ENTERTAINMENT
11/16/2012 08:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2012

Domhnall Gleeson, 'Anna Karenina' Star, On The Worst Thing For An Actor

Domhnall Gleeson is having a bit of a moment. The erstwhile Bill Weasley in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" plays the big-hearted Konstantin Levin in "Anna Karenina," Joe Wright's ambitious adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel.

"I would have never considered myself for a romantic role, that was something Joe decided I was able to do," Gleeson told HuffPost during a recent interview. "He made a big step forward for me in that way, just by trusting me."

Gleeson, 29, has been working as an actor since he was a teenager, but it's only now that he's ready to ascend up the ranks. In addition to "Anna Karenina," Gleeson's next run of movies find him starring opposite Rachel McAdams (in the time-travel romance "About Time"), Michael Fassbender (in the comedy "Frank") and even his father, actor Brendan Gleeson (in the star-studded drama "Cavalry").

HuffPost Entertainment chatted with Gleeson about "Anna Karenina" and his burgeoning career.

How did you get involved with "Anna Karenina"?
I came onboard after somebody else dropped out. I had auditioned for a small part in "Hanna" for Joe, but didn't get it. So we kept in touch, because he's just sort of one of those guys. He said, "Do you want to come and audition?" I couldn't believe that he was letting me audition for it at all. I read the book in four days and went down to meet him and did a five-hour audition. I left the audition thinking, "Well, even if it doesn't happen, I feel like I've gotten better by having him direct me for a few hours." Then I did a table read, and after that, Joe asked me to do the part. I did a little dance in the street. It was one of the great moments.

What did you think of the book when you read it?
It was a pressure situation. I was cramming. It was a mixture of reading and cramming. But, I loved it. I had seen a version of it before, and Joe had talked me through what he thought Levin was. Obviously I was really looking at what was important to Levin's story and what I could take from Tolstoy. But also the book is a masterpiece and easy to read and enlightening.

Levin has a much bigger role in the book. Did having a lot of that unused backstory make it easer for you as an actor?
There is that, but you always have to create a character inside the film, too. You have to make sure the job you're doing is the best job for the film and that you're not trying to bring in stuff from the book that isn't helpful or might muddy the waters. At a certain point you're going to have to put the book down. Of course, it was hugely helpful. It was also just a great excuse to go back and read a fantastic book.

Levin and Kitty are almost a mirror image of Anna and Vronsky.
It's interesting. Levin starts off by putting her on a pedestal and acting she's the sun. He couldn't love her any more [if he tried]. Then he gets to know her and they marry and he gets to know the real her and she becomes a human and he loves her even more. That's a beautiful thing about love which doesn't change. That goes across history. You think somebody can't get better, then flaws appear and you love them even more. I think the "meant to be together" thing is probably incorrect, but the romance element is correct.

Between this film and a bunch of upcoming projects, you're basically holding down a permanent position on those hot, young actor lists. Is that weird?
I'm certainly a young actor. I'm certainly those two things. Actually, I'm not even young anymore; I'm 29. So, I'm an actor. [Laughs] The only thing I care about is the work. The worst thing as an actor is when you're not getting opportunities to try and show what you can do; the best thing is when you get material that really lets you express something and that you're excited about. The wonderful thing about the last couple of years is that I've been working quite a lot and I've been given opportunities. There are plenty of people who are better than me, who haven't gotten those opportunities. I recognize I've been really really lucky at the moment. I'm getting to work with extraordinary people that I can learn great lessons from. I'm trying to get the most out of it, because you never know when it's going to end.

PHOTO GALLERIES
'Anna Karenina' Photos

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