Popularly known as the twisted Joffrey Baratheon in HBO’s Game of Thrones, Jack Gleeson is an Irish actor and theater producer. Gleeson has appeared in dozens of film and television projects spanning twenty years, making him a familiar face everywhere.
Born to lawyers in Cork, Ireland, Gleeson started acting at 8 years old. Like his sisters Rachel and Emma, he took drama lessons and acted in youth theater groups. Even at that young age, Gleeson showed strong dramatic chops that propelled him quickly into film roles.
Gleeson has appeared in dozens of projects since he was a child. Although uncredited for his performance, he was “Kid”, one of the apocalypse survivors, in 2002’s Reign of Fire opposite major Hollywood stars like Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Gerard Butler.
When Gleeson was 13 years old, he acted again with Christian Bale; this time, the movie was Batman Begins (2005). His brief appearance as “Little Boy” was a pivotal moment in the film, and Gleeson later joked about the character’s name, saying in a Vulture interview, “His dad is John Boy.”
In 2007, he played both Lonely Twins in the psychedelic 2007 horror flick Shrooms. However, he doesn’t seem to be much of a fan of the movie, stating in the same Vulture interview, “For the whole movie I had to wear a bag over my head . . . Anyway, let’s not get into it, it’s not a good movie.”
Good movie or not, Gleeson was beginning to make a name for himself in the acting world.
Game of Thrones
Of course, the role that turned Jack Gleeson into a household name was Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones. Joffrey was the oldest son of Cersei Lannister and her brother Jamie Lannister, although the entire kingdom believed him to be the son of King Robert Baratheon.
After King Robert’s death, Joffrey inherited the Iron Throne and began his reign of terror. As bastard king of Westeros, Joffrey used his power to satisfy his own desire for vengeance and bloodlust.
To help him harness his sadistic performance, Gleeson credits villains like Joaquin Phoenix’s Commodus in Gladiator (2000) as well as the big bad Hexxus in FernGully (1992). In fact, Gleeson affected viewers so much that CBR.com ranked his entire portrayal in its top ten best of the whole series.
Fans were happy to see Joffrey get his own version of the Red Wedding as a final come-uppance; still, they were sad to see Gleeson exit the series.
Despite the universal hatred of his Game of Thrones character, Gleeson has said in the past that “people aren’t mean to me on the street” and “Nobody’s ever said a mean thing to me.”
It seems that while Joffrey had a knack for twisted behavior, the actor who played him is well-loved by fans as well as his fellow actors.
While acting on Game of Thrones, Gleeson continued his studies of philosophy and theology at Trinity College Dublin.
It was during this time that he met Matt Smyth, Eoghan Quinn, and Aaron Heffernan, who would work with Jack to form The Collapsing Horse Theatre Company in 2012.
Why did he retire from acting?
In 2014, after four seasons on Game of Thrones, Gleeson decided to retire from acting, saying “I stopped enjoying it as much as I used to.”
He completed his studies at Trinity College and even took up baking! During this five-year hiatus from film and television, Gleeson focused much of his effort into establishing The Collapsing Horse Theatre company with his friends from college.
The group has performed a number of original and adapted stage productions. In 2019, he appeared at Trinity Brawl 2, a wrestling event where he got the chance to step outside of his association with Joffrey and play himself.
What is Jack Gleeson doing now?
In 2020, Gleeson decided to return to acting. Fans of his Game of Thrones performance will be surprised to see him playing a ghost for two episodes of the BCC sitcom Out of Her Mind.
And in his most recent film credit Rebecca’s Boyfriend (2021), he plays the protagonist’s coked-out banker brother. Both of these roles highlight Gleeson’s range and ability to continue to push the boundaries of his own artistic expression.
For now, he continues to pursue his passions for theater and has plans to continue dipping his toes back into the world of film and television. Big fans of Jack Gleeson will be happy to hear he will be featured in the upcoming film In the Land of Saints and Sinners starring alongside Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, and Kerry Condon.
He is also scheduled to attend a panel at the Game of Thrones Official Fan Convention with beloved cast members from both Game of Thrones and its prequel House of the Dragon.
In his humanitarian efforts, Jack, traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine in February of 2023 to deliver a pickup truck for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The actor also took part in a charity film intensive at the Theater of Young Spectators on Lipki, and the funds from the event went to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Gleeson married his girlfriend Róisín O’Mahony in a quiet ceremony. Followers of Gleeson commented how the simple ceremony reflected the actor’s grounded nature.
We are excited to see where his career takes him next!