Domhnall Gleeson on Acting: “I think the key is not to be comfortable”

Actor Domnhall Gleeson

“As an actor, you should feel like you’re wrestling the material, like it’s using up your energy and your resources.” – Domnhall Gleeson

The Winnie-the-Pooh stories have entertained children for nearly a century, but what many people don’t know is that author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher — the namesake for Pooh’s friend Christopher Robin — had a difficult relationship, and the success of the Winnie-the-Pooh books only developed a bigger rift between father and son. In Goodbye Christopher Robin, Domhnall Gleeson plays A.A. Milne. In an interview with Time, Gleeson talks about how he got into character — and why for him acting is a totally encompassing process.

Gleeson explains that he feels that acting should be a draining process. He says, “As an actor, you should feel like you’re wrestling the material, like it’s using up your energy and your resources. You should be drained by the process. I think the key is not to be comfortable.”

As an Irish actor, Gleeson had to work on his natural accent to ensure it didn’t creep into his portrayal of the character. His main technique was to use poetry to practice Milne’s voice. He explains, “I would recite poems with my dialogue coach to help practice my voice.” Gleeson used Milne’s accent from waking up to going to bed, believing this would help him portray Milne’s PTSD. He explains, “Portraying PTSD onscreen terrified me. I didn’t want it to come across as a melodramatic thing. I wanted it to feel contained and real.”

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