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You Don't Know Jack
Still in his teens, he’s one of television’s hottest properties – but for Jack Gleeson, it seems there’s more to life than red carpets and critical acclaim.
Dave Hanratty, 04 May 2012
At 19 years old, Jack Gleeson has a prominent role in one of television’s biggest shows, movie scripts are piling up and slick Hollywood agents are clamouring to turn him into a megastar. But this young man, long earmarked for ‘Next Big Thing’ status, isn’t having any of it.
In his role as the sadistic Joffrey Baratheon, chief antagonist in HBO’s hugely popular fantasy epic Game Of Thrones, the Dublin native cuts a particularly loathsome figure. In person, however, he couldn’t be more removed from his onscreen persona. Friendly and down-to-earth, he displays not a hint of ego during the course of our conversation. Even the remarkable revelation that he’ll be hanging up the acting boots once his Game Of Thrones contract is honoured is so nonchalant that he doesn’t even pause for a reaction.
But I need to make sure that I heard him right. He’s about to hit his 20s, is on the cusp of potential global stardom – and he’s going to walk away from it all? Alright. What’s her name?
“No, there’s no girl involved, unfortunately,” he laughs. “I really wanted to be an actor for ages but I just changed my mind, as young people do. I just realised that I love acting but I don’t want to depend on it for my living. Obviously Game Of Thrones is an incredible experience and it’s not that I had a bad time on it and that’s why I don’t want to be an actor – it’s just that when I was doing the show I thought, ‘This is great fun, but it’s not fulfilling’. I want to pursue other occupations that I feel would give me more satisfaction in life.
“It’s such a weird concept,” he adds, “that we need a purpose in our life and we need an occupation to validate that purpose. It just kind of struck me, not in any immediate way, that even though I love acting and it’s enjoyable to do, that ‘professionalising’ it makes it less enjoyable, when you have to depend on it.”
Jack first tread the boards at the tender age of seven as a member of Dublin’s Independent Theatre Workshop, so perhaps it’s no surprise to find him musing philosophically on his current line of work: he knows what he is talking about. His casual attitude is mirrored by his attire, having come straight from the Smock Alley Theatre, where he’s been hard at work rehearsing for Collapsing Horse Theatre’s debut musical MONSTER/CLOCK: A Play On Time. Decked out in patchwork pants and colourful braces, he looks positively Dickensian. It’s a good look for Jack, considering the rest of the cast are made up of puppets!