My favourite contemporary Irish actor – Domhnall Gleeson – has first caught my eye in the London-based rom-com About Time (2013). Since then, he has delivered some seriously impressive performances in a string of amazing films shot at stunning locations worldwide.
Let’s follow him along his film location journey so far! But first of all…
Who is Domhnall Gleeson?
Dublin born and bred, Domhnall (33) is the son of Irish acting legend Brendon Gleeson (who you may have seen in films such as In Bruges, 2008). Domhnall also has three brothers: Brían (who is an actor as well), Fergus and Rúairí.
In recent years, Domhnall’s career took off big time. According to this feature post about him, every movie Domhnall chose in 2015 was nominated for an Oscar!
Although most of his recent roles were very serious ones, Domhnall actually has a great sense of humour! You will notice this straight away when you watch any interview with him or see his early works in an Irish comedy sketch show called Your Bad Self. Here is a teaser:
So now, let’s look at all the cool places that Domhnall’s film career has taken him to…
About Time (2013) – filmed in London and Cornwall, UK
In one of my favourite rom-coms ever, Domhnall plays an English guy called Tim. Like many young professionals, Tim moves from the countryside to the capital London. At the “Dans le noir” restaurant, which actually exists in London’s nightclub district Soho, he has his first blind date with Mary (Rachel McAdams).
Although immediately smitten with the American expat, Tim forgets to ask for Mary’s number. When he sees her a few weeks later, she’s got a new boyfriend. How handy that Tim has just learnt from his father (Bill Nighy) that he inherited the ability to travel back in time (at least within his own life time). Thus, Tim can conveniently go back and forth to fix all the situations that went wrong for him.
Most of the scenes in About Time have been filmed on location in London. The underground station Maida Vale, for example, features quite heavily as this is the local tube station where Mary and Tim head to in order to get to work in the mornings.
Other London shooting locations include Notting Hill, Bayswater and Earl’s Court. For a detailed overview of all the places where you can trace the film in London, check out this post.
Meanwhile, the scenes at Tim’s family home have been filmed in picturesque Cornwall, for example at Vault Beach, Gorran Haven.
Unbroken (2014) – filmed in Australia
Despite the beautiful surroundings, true story WW2 drama Unbroken demanded all actors, including protagonist Jack O’Connell, to go to the extremes. Domhnall played a shipwrecked air force captain. After his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean, he survives in a small life boat for several days, but is nothing more than flesh and bones when captured by America’s war enemy – the Japanese.
As a means of humiliation, the captured Americans had to strip naked in front of the Japanese, so there was really nowhere to hide for Jack and Domhnall: They had to lose an incredible amount of weight in preparation for these scenes.
Pretty much all filming of Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken took place down under. The scenes at sea, for example, were shot Moreton Bay. Further filming took place at Werris Creek and Cockatoo Island in New South Wales.
Ex Machina (2015) – filmed in Norway
In this stunning drama, Domhnall plays young programmer Caleb who is selected to participate in a ground-breaking synthetic intelligence experiment by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid (brilliantly portrayed by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander).
For this mission, Caleb leaves his office in the city and moves in with the Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the seclusive boss of his company.
Even though the film is supposed to be set somewhere in America, the actual filming took place in the beautiful fjord nature of Norway.
More specifically, the crew filmed at the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Alstad, Valldal, Norway (Nathan’s mountain retreat) as well as at the Sognefjord and Briksdalen in the Jostedalsbreen National Park, Norway.
The Revenant (2015) – filmed in the USA, Canada, Argentina and Mexico
In this brilliant flick, Domhnall is the leader of a hunting pioneer team that sets out to explore the wild, undiscovered west in today’s Canada and the USA at some point in the 1820s. One of the frontiersmen (Leonardo DiCaprio) has to fight for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
Most of the scenes for the Oscar-winning film were shot on location in the ice cold winter wilderness of Alberta and British Columbia, Canada. Further filming took place in the USA, for example at Libby, Montana (waterfall scene at Kootenai Falls) or the White Mountains, Arizona. Plus, a few scenes were even filmed in Argentina (Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego is where the final fight between Glass and Fitzgerald takes place) as well as in Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico.
What all of these locations have in common was the real-life element. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was very strict about exclusively shooting in natural light and real-life locations outdoors. I think we’re talking about method acting extreme here… and Domhnall was once again fantastic in his tragic role as “the good leader”!
Brooklyn – filmed in the USA and Ireland (2015)
In Brooklyn, a 2015-film that follows an Irish girl emigrating to New York and returning on a home visit to Ireland, Domhnall finally gets to be an Irishman! A really dull one though. But he even pulls that one off brilliantly!
After Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) has set up a new life in America and even got married to an Italian-American, she returns back home to Ireland where “Irish fella” Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson) starts to court her.
The scenes of Eilis and Jim visiting an Irish beach were shot at Curracloe Beach in County Wexford, Ireland. The setting for Eilis’ Irish home town was the 10,000 inhabitants village of nearby Enniscorthy in South-East Ireland.
In an interview for the film, Domhnall proved to be everything else than “dull”. He told Irish co-star Saoirse Ronan to “shut up”, adding that “people have kissed your ass for long enough”.
But of course, all that was meant in a non-threatening, “sibling rivalry” kind of way. In fact, the two Irish actors really like each other and Domhnall has even stated that he chose to star in Brooklyn specifically because he wanted to work with Saoirse. Aw…
Some Irish humour there for you, hey…! After all of Domhnall’s serious on-screen roles, it was about time for some jokes off-screen! Pardon the pun! 🙂
For 2017, Domhnall Gleeson has currently lined up six new films to be released, including the next part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Part of the new sequel was filmed on the uninhabited island Skellig Michael, which you can see on a scenic drive along the coastline of County Kerry, Ireland.
So Domhnall finally got some time to spend in the beautiful nature of his home country Ireland. And we can be sure to hear lots more about him…