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The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Pillowman scribe Martin McDonagh's black comedy gets a transfer to Broadway.

Domhnall Gleeson

Age: "I just turned 23."

Currently: Playing Davey, the long-suffering, well-meaning neighbor of an obsessively cat-loving terrorist in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Gleeson earned a 2006 Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance.

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland. He arrived in New York in January for the Atlantic Theater Company's off-Broadway production of Inishmore, which moved to Broadway in April. "I've got an agent here now but I haven't got a green card," he says. "I'd love to keep working here."

In His Father's Footsteps: Gleeson's father, Brendan, is a successful character actor well-known for his tough-guy roles in Braveheart, Gangs of New York and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, among many others. Fear of nepotism initially steered young Dom toward a career in writing and directing rather than performing. "I'd been very certain about not wanting to do the acting thing because of my father," he says now. "I thought I'd always have the father-son thing of 'He got you the part.'" But everything changed when the younger Gleeson read the script of Inishmore at 18. "It's the perfect blend of story and plot and character, which is quite unusual these days," he says of Martin McDonagh's script. "I hope to play most of the parts in the play someday." He made his professional acting debut as Davey in London, and also managed to earn a bachelors degree in media arts from the Dublin Institute of Technology. "I feel I've learned enough in the meantime to actually give the acting thing a shot and to try and be good at it."

The McDonagh Connection: Gleeson appeared with his dad and his Inishmore co-star and fellow Tony nominee David Wilmot in McDonagh's Oscar-winning short film Six Shooter. "I was only in it for a brief, tiny scene," says Dom, who played a food vendor. The Gleesons and Wilmot will also be seen in the upcoming film Studs. On Oscar night, cries of "He won! He won!" could be heard backstage after the first act of Inishmore. "It was fantastic; Martin's [full-length] movies are going to be even better."

A Fecking Good Time: Inishmore, which is nominated for five Tony Awards, is memorable for its unprecedented amount of onstage blood—and also for its unexpected hilarity. But that doesn't mean the actors are playing around up there. "The only time I have fun is when I hear the applause at the end of the show," Gleeson says. Of course, many of the laughs come at Davey's expense. "During the play I'm constantly under pressure and feel like everyone is treating me like the lowest of the low—like a moron," he says. Sounds more pathetic than hilarious, doesn't it? "I think the reason the play is funny is because the people onstage are completely serious about what they are saying," Gleeson explains. "If it was treated as a comedy by the players of it, it would just stink!"

Do You Like My Hair?: This real-life redhead sports a distinctive long wig in the play, which figures into the plot at one point. "It's not an attractive headpiece," he says with a laugh. "My girlfriend wouldn't kiss me when she saw me in it. But when you put it on and see yourself in the mirror with the Motorhead T-shirt and the sneakers with the tongue pulled up, you're like, 'Ah!'" It's a look that so out, it's almost in. "Back home, all these bands are kind of doing that '80s thing. Some of these clothes are kind of cool in London now, which is weird. It's not cool here yet, but it's coming."

Bloody Peanut Butter: As with McDonagh's other work, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lonesome West and The Pillowman, Inishmore is a black comedy, but unlike the others, this play is distinctly bloody. "It's freakin' disgusting!" Gleeson exclaims. "It has to be edible because two of us get blasted in the face with it. It gets in your fingernails and you can't get it out. You smell like a Snickers going home." The ingredients of the Inishmore blood include chocolate syrup, peanut butter and corn syrup. In short, it is a sticky mess. "Some people stay back [after the show] and give the clean-up crew a round of applause." Downtown at the Atlantic, where the new musical Spring Awakening has just begun, "Their first time on stage, there was blood still coming up through the sets."

The Tony Code of Conduct: Gleeson is thrilled by his Tony nomination and other accolades, but with the big night approaching, he's a little confused by the attention. "How do you get ready for the Tonys?" he asks. "I'm trying to decide what to do. Do I go up to people like Mark Ruffalo and Ian McDiarmid [two of the other nominees in the Best Featured Actor in a Play category] and say, 'I'm a huge fan; I think you're fantastic'? Or do I try and pretend this is normal? I don't know the etiquette." It's still up in the air what protocol Gleeson will follow for the many glittering events surrounding the Tonys, but he does have at least one plan in place for Broadway's biggest event: "I'm going to go stare at Julia Roberts and enjoy my night!"

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