x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 12 November 2018

Star Wars villains: Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux

Gleeson says he was never a Star Wars nut as a child.
Domhnall Gleeson. Disney / Lucasfilm 2015 via AP Photo
Domhnall Gleeson. Disney / Lucasfilm 2015 via AP Photo

For an actor about to appear in the new Star Wars movie – one of the most eagerly awaited films of all time – Domhnall Gleeson is playing it remarkably cool.

“I don’t feel any new responsibility because I happened to have worked on a Star Wars film,” says the genial, red-haired Irish star. “My life hasn’t changed. Why would it?”

To be fair, he’s no stranger to being in a smash-hit international film franchise – he played Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films and lived to tell the tale.

While Episode VII – The Force Awakens has the potential to be the biggest box-office hit of all time, 32-year-old Gleeson is not one to get carried away by the hype. It helps that, unlike many of the young stars of the new film, he wasn’t a Star Wars obsessive as a child, growing up in Dublin, the son of actor Brendan Gleeson. Just 13 days old when Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, was released in 1983, he says: “I wasn’t a nut the way some of my friends were.”

Added to the cast just a day before the famous table-read photo of the new cast was released in April last year, to prepare for his role Gleeson asked if he could borrow prints of the original trilogy.

Granted his wish, he hired a screen in Dublin, where he still lives. “That was amazing. That was one of the big joys – letting the magic seep in.”

Like everyone connected with The Force Awakens – which sees the return of original stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher – Gleeson is sworn to secrecy about his character.

All we know is that he plays General Hux, a high-ranking member of The First Order – a new, nefarious organisation that has risen from the ashes of the Empire, defeated at the end of Return of the Jedi, about 30 years before The Force Awakens takes place.

Seen wearing a grey military uniform in official stills, Hux is said to be aligned with the villainous Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), so can we at least presume that Hux is not one of the good guys?

“If a good guy is wearing that overcoat,” he says, “we’re all in trouble.”

Gleeson adds that director J J Abrams was brilliant at imbuing the set with a positive ­atmosphere.

“Every time, before they called ‘action’, if the adrenalin had dropped a little bit, if the energy was down at the very end of the day, it would be like: ‘Everybody – Star Wars! Stand up straight! Come on! How great is this!? Come on! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go! Action!’”

Soon to be seen in The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, which is due for release in the UAE next month, and Mena, with Tom Cruise, Gleeson laughs when I ask if he gave any tips to The Force Awakens’ younger stars – John Boyega and Daisy Ridley – on surviving fan expectations.

“If they were going to get advice from anybody, it wasn’t not going to be from me,” he says. “You’ve got the three people who were in the original Star Wars movies who are a lot more well-known.”

That, whether Gleeson believes it or not, is about to change.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is out now in cinemas

artslife@thenational.ae