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The Best Domhnall Gleeson Movies And How To Watch Them

Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson in About Time.
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

There are actors who play protagonists we just can’t help but root for, and there are others who are so effective as villains we just can’t help but root against. And then there those like Domhnall Gleeson, who can, at one moment, portray characters like a hopelessly romantic time-traveler in About Time and then go on to take on the role of the ruthless First Order officer, General Hux, in the Star Wars universe. 

Gleeson has proven time and time again that he is capable of giving dynamic performances in a variety of roles. And, since we love exploring actors and their best screen appearances, this seems like a golden opportunity to look at some of the Domhnall Gleeson’s best movies. 

Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy in About Time

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

About Time (2013)

On his 21st birthday, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) learns of a life-changing secret: the men in his family can travel back in time and relive major moments from their past. But, it isn't all fun and games, as there are some major rules as well as consequences if they are broken.

What makes Richard Curtis’ 2013 romantic comedy About Time such a gem of a movie is Domhnall Gleeson’s approach to the everyman character. He is charming, believable, and just easy to root for in his quest to find the secret to love, life, and happiness. It also helps this movie play out like an emotional thrill ride.

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Alicia Vikander and Domhnall Gleeson in Ex Machina

(Image credit: A24)

Ex Machina (2015)

After winning a contest to spend a weekend at the estate of eccentric CEO Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac), programmer Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) realizes that things aren’t as they seem with his boss' latest experiment.

Alex Garland, who previously worked as a screenwriter, made his directorial debut with the 2015 sci-fi thriller, Ex Machina. Gleeson, once again playing the everyman, is absolutely brilliant in his conversations with Ava (Alicia Vikander in one of her best roles), an advanced android whose capabilities defy logic and reason.

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Saoirse Ronan and Domhnall Gleeson in Brooklyn

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Brooklyn (2015)

After coming to America seeking a better life, Irish immigrant Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) is forced to return home, resulting in a life-changing decision where there are no real winners or losers.

One of four critically-acclaimed movies starring Domhnall Gleeson to come out in 2015, John Crowley’s Brooklyn is right up there with any of Gleeson’s other roles. His portrayal of Jim Farrell, the warm, soft, and charming suitor waiting for Ellis back home is often overlooked but should be near the top of the list.

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Domhnall Gleeson in The Revenant

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

The Revenant (2015)

Frontiersman Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is attacked by a grizzly bear in the Dakotas and left for dead by trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), setting off an emotional and painful rebirth story where the hero is motivated by revenge.

Alejandro Iñárritu’s 2015 epic, The Revenant, is mostly remembered for the tremendous performances by DiCaprio (who won his first Oscar) and Hardy, but the supporting cast is just as remarkable. Such is the case for Domhnall Gleeson, who is absolutely perfect in the role of the group's leader, Andrew Henry.

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Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Fassbender, and Domhnall Gleeson in Frank

(Image credit: Element Pictures)

Frank (2014)

After essentially lying his way into an up-and-coming band on the cusp of fame and fortune, Jon Burroughs (Domhnall Gleeson) finds himself forming an unusual bond with the group’s lead singer, a mysterious man by the name of Frank (Michael Fassbender) who is never seen without a large papier-mâché mask covering his head.

One of the A24 movies streaming for free on Plex, Lenny Abrahamson’s 2014 comedy, Frank, is also one of the most interesting of the bunch, and of Gleeson’s career. The way in which Gleeson carries himself in this quirky feature is something else and again shows the complexity of his range as an actor.

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Domhnall Gleeson in True Grit

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

True Grit (2010)

Following her father's death, 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) decides to pursue his killer, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).

The Coen Brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit is one of the best westerns of the modern era, and like the great westerns of yesteryear, it has an incredible cast. Domhnall Gleeson is among the greats with his portrayal of an ill-fated outlaw who has a change of heart a little too late, and steals the show whenever on screen.

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Domhnall Gleeson in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Parts 1 And 2 (2010 - 2011)

The final two installments in the Harry Potter movie franchise go out with a bang as “The Boy Who Lived” (Daniel Radcliffe) takes on Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) to protect Hogwarts (and the world) from utter destruction, no matter the cost.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was split into two movies, sees heroes and villains of the Wizarding World in a final showdown, including the eldest Weasley brother, Will (Domhnall Gleeson). Though not one one of main players in the story, it’s always nice to see Gleeson’s character swoop in with a helping hand.

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Domhnall Gleeson in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens (2015)

Years after the Battle of Endor, the Galactic Empire’s successor — the First Order — makes its presence known just as a new hope rises from the wastelands of a desert planet, starting her own hero’s journey.

People like to harp on Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, but one thing that can’t be denied is Domhnall Gleeson’s portrayal of the iron-fisted First Order officer, General Hux, with his terrifying yet commanding speech on Starkiller Base being nothing short of brilliant.

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Domhnall Gleeson in American Made

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

American Made (2017)

Renegade pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) gets the job of a lifetime when he is recruited by the CIA to fly in a dangerous mission that leads to a whole mess of trouble.

Doug Liman’s 2017 biographical action drama, American Made, features one of the most unhinged Tom Cruise characters while also one of the more dangerous performances by Domhnall Gleeson. The actor is astounding as Seal’s CIA handler, who will do anything to help the agency and the country.

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Domhnall Gleeson in Calvary

(Image credit: Entertainment One)

Calvary (2014)

After receiving the confession of an unknown man who says he will kill him in seven days, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) spends what could be the final week of his life contemplating his life and the threat while also going about his normal business.

One of the most startling scenes in John Michael McDonagh’s 2014 drama, Calvary, comes when the priest meets with Freddie Joyce (Domhnall Gleeson), a killer who cannot recall where he left his last victim. The younger Gleeson is remarkable in his portrayal of an unhinged cannibal, so much so he feels like a three-dimensional human being as opposed to a character on screen.

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Even though we’ve talked about 10 great movies, this barely scratches the surface of Domhnall Gleeson’s body of work, and doesn’t include some of his great shows like Black Mirror, Run, or Catastrophe. And, then there’s the 2022 TV schedule entry, The Patient, that looks incredibly promising.