At 68 years old, Brendan Gleeson has this physical status:
As a member of the Dublin-based Passion Machine Theatre company, Gleeson appeared in several of the theatre company's early and highly successful plays such as Brownbread (1987), written by Roddy Doyle and directed by Paul Mercier, Wasters (1985) and Home (1988), written and directed by Paul Mercier. He has also written three plays for Passion Machine: The Birdtable (1987) and Breaking Up (1988), both of which he directed, and Babies and Bathwater (1994) in which he acted. Among his other Dublin theatre work are Patrick Süskind's one-man play The Double Bass and John B. Keane's The Year of the Hiker.
Gleeson started his film career at the age of 34. He first came to prominence in Ireland for his role as Michael Collins in The Treaty, a television film broadcast on RTÉ One, and for which he won a Jacob's Award in 1992. He has acted in such films as Braveheart, I Went Down, Michael Collins, Gangs of New York, Cold Mountain, 28 Days Later, Troy, Kingdom of Heaven, Lake Placid, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Mission: Impossible 2, and The Village. He won critical acclaim for his performance as Irish gangster Martin Cahill in John Boorman's 1998 film The General.
In 2003, Gleeson was the voice of Hugh the Miller in an episode of the Channel 4 animated series Wilde Stories.
While Gleeson portrayed Irish statesman Michael Collins in The Treaty, he later portrayed Collins' close collaborator Liam Tobin in the film Michael Collins with Liam Neeson taking the role of Collins. Gleeson later went on to portray Winston Churchill in Into the Storm. Gleeson won an Emmy Award for his performance. Gleeson played Hogwarts professor Mad-Eye Moody in the fourth, fifth and seventh Harry Potter films. His son Domhnall played Bill Weasley in the seventh and eighth films.
Gleeson provided the voice of Abbot Cellach in The Secret of Kells, an animated film co-directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey of Cartoon Saloon which premiered in February 2009 at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.
Gleeson starred in the short film Six Shooter in 2006, which won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. This film was written and directed by Martin McDonagh. In 2008, Gleeson starred in the comedy crime film In Bruges, also written and directed by McDonagh. The film, and Gleeson's performance, enjoyed huge critical acclaim, earning Gleeson several award nominations, including his first Golden Globe nomination. In the movie, Gleeson plays a mentor-like figure for Colin Farrell's hitman. In his review of In Bruges, Roger Ebert described the elder Gleeson as having a "noble shambles of a face and the heft of a boxer gone to seed."
In July 2012, he started filming The Grand Seduction, with Taylor Kitsch, a remake of Jean-François Pouliot's French-Canadian La Grande Séduction (2003) directed by Don McKellar; the film was released in 2013. In 2016, he appeared in the video game adaptation Assassin's Creed and Ben Affleck's crime drama Live by Night. In 2017 he finished Psychic, a short he directed and starred in.
Gleeson is a fiddle and mandolin player, with an interest in Irish folklore. He played the fiddle during his roles in Cold Mountain, Michael Collins and The Grand Seduction, and also features on Altan's 2009 live album. In the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), Gleeson sings "The Unfortunate Rake". He has also made a contribution in 2019 to the album by Irish folk group Dervish with a version of Rocky Road To Dublin.