Out of all the celebrity dynasties reigning in Hollywood (from the Kardashians to the Skarsgårds), one that does not get enough attention these days is the Gleesons — namely veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson and his sons, Domhnall and Brian. Having already covered the best things to watch starring Domhnall Gleeson, we figured now was a good time to put the spotlight on his father, following the release of his new 2022 movie, The Banshees of Inisherin. We shall start off our recommendations for great Brendan Gleeson movies and TV shows with another dark comedy from writer and director Martin McDonagh also starring Colin Farrell.
In Bruges (2008)
Two Irish hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are sent to a quaint Belgian town to hide out in the aftermath of a job gone horribly wrong.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Years before reuniting with both Martin McDonagh and Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin, Gleeson first worked with the fellow Irish actor and the English filmmaker for his feature-length debut, In Bruges, a brilliant dark comedy film that offers a moving meditation on guilt and a hilariously cynical culture clash satire.
Rent/Buy In Bruges on Amazon (opens in new tab).
An Irish priest (Brendan Gleeson) begins to fall under a personal and spiritual crisis while trying to identify the person who threatened his life in a confessional booth.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Gleeson has also collaborated with Martin McDonagh’s brother, writer and director John Michael McDonagh, on a few occasions — such as for the thought-provoking mystery thriller, Calvary, which also saw the actor share the screen with his son, Domhnall.
Rent/Buy Calvary on Amazon (opens in new tab).
The Harry Potter Movies (2005-2010)
An orphaned wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) practices his magical skills at a boarding school for other youngsters like him where he also learns more about the dark secrets surrounding his parents’ tragic death.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Domhnall (as Bill Weasley) also co-starred alongside his father in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which was the last installment of the Harry Potter movies to feature Brendan Gleeson in, arguably, his best-known role as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody after first appearing in Goblet of Fire and retuning again for Order of the Phoenix.
A vengeful warrior (Mel Gibson) puts his life on the line to lead a revolt against England’s tyrannical rule over Scotland in the 13th Century.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: One of Brendan Gleeson’s earliest mainstream roles was as William Wallace’s childhood friend and trusted right hand, Hamish Campbell, in star and director Gibson’s epic Best Picture Oscar winner, Braveheart.
Lake Placid (1999)
A game hunting and fishing officer (Bill Pullman), a paleontologist (Bridget Fonda), a reptile enthusiast (Oliver Platt), and others try to prevent further bloodshed after discovering an unusually large, man-eating crocodile inhabiting a local lake in Maine.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: One of Brendan Gleeson’s most badass roles was Sheriff Hank Keough in one of the most fun and thrilling movies of his career, Lake Placid — a classic creature feature from director Steve Miner that also stars a feisty Betty White.
Rent/Buy Lake Placid on Amazon (opens in new tab).
28 Days Later (2002)
A month after a strange virus turning average people into deadly, feral beings leaves the United Kingdom uninhabitable, a young man (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma into this nightmare and searches for sanctuary with a small band of survivors.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Perhaps the greatest horror movie on Brendan Gleeson’s resume, however, is 28 Days Later — a refreshingly realistic reimagining of the zombie subgenre from director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland.
Mr. Mercedes (2017-2019)
Shortly after entering retirement, a former detective (Brendan Gleeson) is obsessively drawn into the case of a killer whose weapon of choice is a stolen Mercedes.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: While not definitively a “horror” title, Mr. Mercedes (which is available to stream with a Peacock Premium subscription) is an undeniably intense, haunting, and uniquely crafted crime series developed by David E. Kelley and based on a novel by a master of scary stories, Stephen King.
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
An android (Haley Joel Osment) uniquely designed to resemble and act like a child crosses paths with a robotic sex worker (Jude Law) who tries to help guide him on a quest to become a real boy.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Following the passing of Stanley Kubrick, director Steven Spielberg stepped in to finish the Oscar-nominated futuristic fairy tale, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, in which Brendan Gleeson plays an outspoken technophobe named Lord Johnson-Johnson.
Stream A.I.: Artificial Intelligence on Paramount+ (opens in new tab).
Rent/Buy A.I.: Artificial Intelligence on Amazon (opens in new tab).
Edge Of Tomorrow (2014)
While humanity is at war with a race of nearly unstoppable extraterrestrial invaders, a cowardly soldier (Tom Cruise) mysteriously starts reliving the same day over and over again, allowing him the chance to perfect his combat skills with the help of a fierce veteran (Emily Blunt).
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Director Doug Liman’s fun and action-packed time loop thriller, Edge of Tomorrow — based on the popular manga, All You Need is Kill — is another sci-fi flick that stars Brendan Gleeson as a man who lives in fear of a non-human species, but for an even more understandable reason.
Rent/Buy Edge Of Tomorrow on Amazon (opens in new tab).
Cold Mountain (2003)
Driven to reunite with his lover (Nicole Kidman), an injured soldier (Jude Law) struggles to return to his home in North Carolina in war-torn, mid-19th century America.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Another one of Brendan Gleeson’s best war films and another time he worked with Jude Law was on Cold Mountain — director Anthony Minghella’s Oscar-winning adaptation of author Charles Frazier’s Civil War-era romance, in which the actor did all of his own fiddle playing for the role of Stobrod Thewes.
Kingdom Of Heaven (2005)
With his faith hanging by a thread after tragically losing his family, a young blacksmith (Orlando Bloom) becomes roped into violent conflict between Europe and the East over religious beliefs during the 12th century.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Another war film on Brendan Gleeson’s resume that is set far deeper into the past is the epic Kingdom of Heaven — director Ridley Scott’s fictionalized depiction of the turbulent days of the Crusades in which the actor plays real-life French warrior, Raynald of Châtillon.
Stream Kingdom Of Heaven on Amazon Prime (opens in new tab).
Stream Kingdom Of Heaven (Director’s Cut) on Amazon Prime (opens in new tab).
Into The Storm (2009)
An in-depth look at the life and career of former British prime minister Winston Churchill (Brendan Gleeson) in the midst of World War II’s end.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: Another powerful historical drama set around a time of war is the HBO original movie, Into the Storm — a follow-up to 2002’s The Gathering Storm, for which Gleeson takes over the role of Churchill with a performance that earned him an Emmy award.
Gangs Of New York (2002)
A man (Leonardo DiCaprio) travels to New York City, seeking vengeance against the vicious and manipulative gang leader (three-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis) who killed his father years earlier.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: A whole different kind of period drama related to the subject of “war” is director Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated, star-studded drama, Gangs of New York, in which Brendan Gleeson plays sheriff candidate Walter “Monk” McGinn.
Paddington 2 (2017)
After officially becoming a part his new human family, a precocious, adventurous, talking bear (Ben Whishaw) works hard to get ahold of the perfect gift for his aunt, only for it be stolen.
Why it’s worth checking out if you like Brendan Gleeson: One of the more heartwarming and thoroughly jovial titles on Brendan Gleeson’s filmography (if not his single most positive credit) is Paddington 2 — the widely acclaimed second film based on the classic children’s book character in which the actor stars as an ill-tempered prison chef named Knuckles McGinty.
Brendan Gleeson made his debut as a Saturday Night Live host for Season 48’s second episode, which you can stream on Peacock Premium (opens in new tab) right now. The actor also recently joined the cast of Joker: Folie à Deux — director Todd Phillips’ upcoming, musical follow-up to his disturbing, Oscar-winning comic book adaptation — so keep an eye out for that, too.