Words by Kevin Palmer, who you can follow on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer
It is the transformation that has had the acting world talking throughout 2020 and now we are about to see Brendan Gleeson’s remarkable performance as US President Donald Trump.
The Comey Rule hit our screens yesterday (September 30th, 2020) via Sky Atlantic, with Gleeson taking centre-stage as he takes on the role of a President, in a story outlining his explosive and predictably brief working relationship with FBI Director James Comey, played by Jeff Daniels.
Political dramas are rarely produced while the chief protagonist is still in office, yet Gleeson’s brilliance ensures this ambitious production hits some remarkable heights just a few weeks before what is certain to be a brutal American election; especially if the first Presidential debate of 2020 was anything to go by.
Plotting the story that starts with Trump demanding loyalty from Comey, through to his sacking from the FBI that he was broken to him via CNN, this real-life melodrama provides a gripping script for compelling television and doesn’t disappoint.
With his acting genius shining through on every scene, the darkness of Trump’s inner soul is brought to life by Gleeson and now Daniels has revealed what he believes is the secret behind the on-screen magic the duo have conjured up.
“It was a remarkable performance in so many respects and Brendan Gleeson is the kind of actor I love to work with,” said Dumb and Dumber star Daniels, speaking in a Zoom chat attended by Female First.
“There is no bullls*** with him, no dramas. He comes onto set absolutely prepared, doesn’t want to rehearse, doesn’t want to run lines and just gets on with the job.
“I have always had the same attitude as him and that may be why I loved working with him so much.
“The first scene we did together was the so-called 'loyalty dinner' depicting Trump’s evening with Comey.
“I think we first met each other in the make-up trailer and a few minutes later, without any rehearsal, we are on set filming running through eight pages of Trump and Comey script.. mostly Trump.
“He strolled in and just nailed it because he is such a class act. This is the kind of actor you want to work with, the ultimate professional.
“He puts in so much work to make it look as easy as he makes it look and everything about his version of Trump is incredible.”
The real Trump is almost certain to start firing out his famously venomous tweets in the direction of those involved in The Comey Rule, with respected director Billy Ray suggesting the star of his latest production is well-positioned to avoid the flack that may come his way from the current incumbent of the White House.
“I loved the idea of a non-American playing this part and Brendan is in the best place back in his home in Dublin right now as everyone involved in this project will be getting some flack for the next few weeks,” he joked.
“The first thing you need to know is Brendan turned down this role when he was first approached. I knew he was the right man for the job and thank God he changed his mind and got on board with the project.
“He’s such a great actor and understands nuance so well. He just got this role and what we see on screen is just fantastic.
“Brendan was a dream to work with. He was funny, gentle, he cares about his fellow actors on set and never wanted to play the evil villain version of Trump. He just wanted to be him in the best way he could and the end result is just amazing.
“What does this man want and how he is trying to get it? That was the idea Brendan ran with as he tried to get into Trump’s mind and we knew him on screen with great actors [is a great thing], and we see that when Comey and Trump are on screen together.”
House of Cards star Michael Kelly admits he was ‘in awe’ of Gleeson as he shared a set with him in his role as Comey’s FBI deputy Andrew McCabe, and admits the show would not have worked if the character of Trump fell flat.
“Billy Ray emailed me when Brendan did his first scene as Trump and was so excited,” said Kelly, who's also of Irish heritage courtesy of his Donegal family on his father’s side.
“He was saying how he crushed it, just killed it and from that moment, we all knew we had a pretty good show here.
“Trump could easily have gone badly in the wrong hands, but that was never going to happen when someone as amazing as Brendan was steering things.
“You can’t help but look up to this guy and the way he so perfectly threaded the needle in the way he played Trump was just incredible.
“He just got the essence of Trump and that is what the director Billy Ray wanted from all of us. We didn’t need to become the person we were playing, but we needed to give the audience a flavour of what they are really like.
“Brendan did that better than anyone with Trump. I was blown away by his performance and I sure everyone will be when they see it.”
History is likely to look back on Trump’s presidency with a large helping of confusion and this show helps to illuminate a story that helped to confirm that the truth can indeed be stranger than fiction.
The Comey Rule is on Sky Atlantic now.
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