Brendan Gleeson Wants to Change Television Forever

Brendan Gleeson Wants to Change Television Forever

There’s an intimacy there, particularly with films like Calvary or In Bruges.

I love the microscopic attention to detail that you don’t have a lot on TV. I also found that the quality of the old television flattened everything out in a way that was very unappealing.

So what brought you into Mr. Mercedes?

I hadn’t worked in television for a long time until this came up. I did one pilot for a thing called The Money for HBO. That didn’t take off. Also that long-term commitment to working away from home wasn’t something that particularly appealed. But I loved working on Lake Placid with David [E.] Kelley. I always wanted to work with him again. And in the meantime, he’s become the maestro of TV writing.

And so when this came along, it was kind of oh God, I’d love if this was to work.

I suppose there’s not much more you can ask for: David Kelley, Stephen King, detective story.

And it was a really properly fleshed-out character. Not just a curmudgeon but very soulful in a way. He’s on the point of suicide with regard to the emptiness in his life. He had sacrificed his family and everything he has for his work. I did a limited amount of research on retired detectives, particularly on the huge suicide rates amongst people who have given themselves over to that kind of work, watched all the detritus of humanity, tried to do something about it and fell short or actually achieved something, but then suddenly they’re not allowed to anymore. At the beginning of the show, Bill Hodges’s family was gone, [along with] that whole notion of a lack of sense of purpose. It’s horrible but fascinating.

What was it you think that endeared you, and Stephen King for that matter, to Bill Hodges more than the other 80,000 hardened retired detectives we’ve seen over the years?

It was his first venture I think into the hard-boiled detective genre against, you know, the otherworldly stuff he’s known for. The part of it that drew me was talking to Jack Bender about it and how it’s about the demons inside as against the demons outside us. We wanted to keep it firmly on the ground. But.


But. Stephen King is Stephen King and, and there was no question we’d get to the supernatural, too. I was always a little bit worried about, you know, horror porn and all that kind of stuff but there’s no question when you bring that element to life, it’s so visceral. To me, I was much more interested in the terrestrial human-based malignancies that are causing all the damage. But throwing that Stephen King… spin-ball? Curveball? It ups the ante, in terms of people needing to see what happens.

When it played in Ireland someone came up to me in Dublin and told me it’s a great “follow-your-roper.” In other words, it’s the show people need to follow and need to see what comes next. Lots of people come up to me and say did I catch that guy yet? It’s in good humor, but also it absolutely frightened the daylights out of people.

You don’t get much actual face-to-face time with Harry Treadway in the first season even though the—for lack of a better word—chemistry is very important between these two characters. How did you work with that?

You’ve reminded me, in In Bruges I have a long phone call scene with Ralph Fiennes, and he flew in from London purely to do the other side of the phone call. He wasn’t supposed to come for another week. It was far more personal, you know. We could have done over the phone if he was in London, but he insisted.

Source : Tom Philip Link

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