10 Best Domhnall Gleeson Movie Roles That Aren’t Star Wars (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

Domhnall Gleeson’s career may have received a boost thanks to his part in the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy, but the Irish actor was already on the scene for quite some time when he landed the role of General Hux. As the son of Brendan Gleeson, he was born into the industry.

RELATED: Jamie Dornan’s 10 Best Roles, According To Rotten Tomatoes

Since his breakout role as Rodney in 2005’s Never Let Me Go, Gleeson has oscillated between mainstream franchises and independent gems. Outside of the Star Wars universe, Gleeson moves from genre to genre with ease. From science fiction to horror to action, the actor digs into complex roles, always entertaining audiences with his quirky acting style.

Updated on September 29, 2021 by Colin McCormick: With Domhnall Gleeson’s performance as General Hux well behind him now, he continues to prove that he is an incredibly versatile actor. Since ending his run in the galaxy far, far away, Gleeson has appeared in diverse projects like Frank of Ireland and Peter Rabbit 2 while also preparing for his upcoming role in the miniseries The White House Plumbers. And with such a successful young career, there are plenty of great roles in his past that have earned Gleeson plenty of acclaim and are worth highlighting.

15 Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021) – 67%

Peter kicks Thomas in the face in Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Gleeson returned to his role of Thomas McGregor in the sequel to the popular family comedy Peter Rabbit. James Corden also came back to voice the titular role of the mischievous rabbit. The new adventure finds Peter unable to kick his rebellious habits as he heads out for an adventure in the big city.

Peter Rabbit 2 continues to deliver the family-friendly fun that made the first movie a hit in 2018. Critics praised the movie for its sense of humor and self-aware style that lived up to the promise of the original.

Available to rent on Apple TV

14 A Futile And Stupid Gesture (2018) – 67%

Henry Beard in the National Lampoon office in A Futile and Stupid Gesture

One of the comedy’s most influential voices is examined in A Futile and Stupid Gesture. The movie explores the creation of the comedy magazine National Lampoon with Will Forte and Gleeson playing the minds behind its success, Doug Kenney and Henry Beard, respectively.

The movie is a wild and hilarious look at the boundary-pushing exploits of these geniuses while also featuring glimpses of other big comedy stars of the ’70s and ’80s from Chevy Chase to Bill Murray to John Belushi. Though it was an ambitious story to take on, the movie’s unique approach worked for many critics.

13 Mother! (2017) – 68%

Javier Bardem pushing Domhnall Gleeson against the wall in mother!

Acclaimed auteur Darren Aronofsky delivered perhaps his most controversial movie with the psychological horror story mother! Jennifer Lawrence gives a powerhouse performance as the wife of a struggling writer (Javier Bardem). When he invites strangers into their home, her world is turned into a chaotic nightmare.

Gleeson and his brother Brian Gleeson play very creepy brothers who are added to the list of unwelcomed guests. The movie proved to be very divisive, but many critics found it to be a thought-provoking and surreal journey worth taking.

12 About Time (2013) – 69%

About Time

Richard Curtis, the writer-director behind such rom-com classics as Notting Hill and Love, Actually, directed About Time, a heartwarming time travel story. Gleeson stars as a young man who learns that he has inherited his father’s gift of time travel which he uses to find romance and make his life better.

It is an interesting take on the time-travel genre that critics seemed to appreciate. Though some found About Time to be too sentimental in its emotional story, others commended the movie for embracing those aspects wholeheartedly. Gleeson also shone in a rare romantic leading man role.

11 Never Let Me Go (2010) – 69%

Ruth and Kathy looking through a window in Never Let Me Go

Based on the acclaimed novel, Never Let Me Go is a grounded sci-fi drama that follows children at a seemingly idyllic school who are exposed to the world outside and the reality of their lives. Gleeson has a supporting role as a young man they meet when getting out into the real world.

The movie’s incredible cast of young actors, including Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield, elevated the material in the minds of many critics. It was also seen as a worthy adaptation to a beloved book.

Available to rent on Apple TV

10 The Revenant (2015) – 78%

Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the infamous 19th-century frontiersman Hugh Glass, who was left for dead after being mauled by a grizzly bear. Gleeson plays Captain Andrew Henry, a fur trapper whose men are led through the present-day Dakota by Glass.

RELATED: 10 Best Survival Movies Like The Revenant

DiCaprio won his first Oscar for his intense and riveting performance in the lead role. Tom Hardy also earned acclaim as the movie’s villain while many critics were stunned by the long-take action sequences and beautiful cinematography.

Available to rent on Apple TV

9 Dredd (2012) – 79%

Lena Headey standing behind Domhnall Gleeson in Dredd

Dredd is a contemporary adaptation of the Judge Dredd comic strips featured in the science fiction magazine 2000 AD. Karl Urban plays the title character, a cop in Mega-City One, a large city that lies within a vast dystopian wasteland. Gleeson again has a supporting role here, playing an unnamed computer expert working for villains.

Despite being a smaller-scale sci-fi action movie, Dredd was praised for its unique style and non-stop pace. Urban made for an effectively badass hero while the movie was seen as a much more faithful adaptation to the material than the 1995 Sylvester Stallone version.

8 Shadow Dancer (2013) – 83%

Set in 1993 Belfast, Shadow Dancer explores the fallout from the decades-long conflict between Northern Irish nationalists and the United Kingdom. Andrea Riseborough stars as Collette, a Belfastian who is forced to become a spy for the British government. Gleeson plays Connor McVeigh, one of Collette’s brothers.

Riseborough was given a lot of praise for her central performance that held the tense spy tale together. Critics also singled out the direction by James Marsh that helped deliver a thriller that could leave audiences on the edge of their seats while also being thoughtful.

Available to rent on Apple TV

7 American Made (2017) – 86%

In American Made, Tom Cruise plays pilot Barry Seal, a man who flew CIA missions and smuggled drugs for the Colombian Medellín Cartel in the 1980s and then became an informant for the DEA. Gleeson plays a government agent working with Seal.

RELATED: 5 Ways Ethan Hunt Is Tom Cruise’s Best Role (& 5 Better Alternatives)

Cruise delivers another energetic and charismatic performance with a slightly darker edge than he is known for. The movie takes a fun and loose approach to the material, which some found misguided. However, most found that American Made made for a highly enjoyable crime story with a captivating protagonist.

6 Calvary (2014) – 89%

Brendan Gleeson stars in the Irish drama Calvary about a Catholic priest whose life is threatened during confession. As the threat hangs over him, the priest deals with the various characters in his small community. Domnall Gleeson appears opposite his real-life father as a serial killer the priest visits in prison.

The elder Gleeson received high praise for his performance with many calling it one of the best of his career. Writer-director John Michael McDonagh was also credited with his ability to handle the heavy themes of the movie while also adding some biting humor into the story.

Available to rent on Apple TV

5 Frank (2014) – 92%

Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson in Frank

A quirky ensemble comedy, Frank follows Gleeson’s character Jon Burroughs as he becomes the new keyboardist for an experimental band called Soronprfbs. Michael Fassbender plays the title character, the band’s leader who dons a papier-mâché mask over his head at all times.

Though some might dismiss the movie as being gimmicky, critics insisted Frank went beyond its unusual premise to deliver something special. With plenty of humor and a surprising amount of heart, it made for an endearing comedy that embraced its weirdness enough to stand out as wonderfully unique.

Available to rent on Apple TV

4 Ex Machina (2015) – 92%

Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleeson in Ex Machina

Alex Garland’s ambitious science fiction film takes the classic story of the Frankenstein monster into new, technological territory. In Ex Machina, Gleeson plays a talented programmer named Caleb Smith who wins the chance to spend a week with a tech CEO (Oscar Isaac) and is introduced to his ground-breaking new creation.

Critics enjoyed Ex Machina’s stripped-down sci-fi tale that allowed its small cast of characters to interact rather than rely on huge action sequences. And despite its small scale, the movie was hailed for its beautiful look and big ideas. Along with great turns by Gleeson, Isaac and Alicia Vikander were lauded for their performances.

Available to rent on Apple TV

3 True Grit (2010) – 96%

The Coen brothers’ Western adaptation True Grit finds Bridges playing Deputy U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a man with an alcohol problem hired by a 14-year-old girl (Hailee Steinfeld) to track down the man who killed her father (Josh Brolin). Gleeson gets to play one of the great one-scene characters in a Coen Brothers movie as a young outlaw caught by Cogburn.

Though there are many fans of the John Wayne version, many critics found this to be the better take on the material. Bridges impressed many with his funny and gruff performance while Steinfeld gave a breakout performance as the story’s young hero. With exciting action and plenty of wit, True Grit was seen great modern addition to the Western genre.

Available to rent on Apple TV

2 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011) – 96%

Before Star Wars, Gleeson acted in another iconic franchise: Harry Potter. He plays Bill Weasley who appears in the franchise’s epic conclusion. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 finds Harry and his allies defending Hogwarts against Voldemort and his forces in their final battle.

After a decade of movies, critics acknowledged Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as a fitting and satisfying conclusion to the beloved series. From the acting of the now-iconic cast to the stunning visuals to the emotional story beats, it was generally agreed that the film should please most fans as a final chapter.

1 Brooklyn (2015) – 97%

A beloved Irish melodrama, Brooklyn is based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín. An immigrant story, it stars Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey, an Irish woman torn between her new home in America and the life she left behind in Ireland. Gleeson plays a young Irishman and a love interest for Eilis.

Ronan’s lead performance received the most attention from critics who found it grounded, moving, and authentic. The period romance was also highlighted as emotional, funny, and thoroughly satisfying for audiences.

Available to rent on Apple TV

NEXT: Saoirse Ronan’s 10 Best Films (According To IMDb)

Split image of Cedric Diggory, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood

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Harry Potter: The Best Character From Every Movie (That Isn’t Harry)

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Megan Summers
(545 Articles Published)

Megan is a public librarian by trade obsessed with the intersections between art, culture, and society. She’s a nerd for horror, obscure memes, weird history, graphic novels, and binge-worthy science fiction series.

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