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When you go to ‘Goblet,’ keep an eye out for Gleeson

Susan King Los Angeles Times

In the fourth “Harry Potter” book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” J.K. Rowling introduced the latest Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Mad-Eye Moody.

Moody possesses a swiveling blue eye that seems to have a life of its own. Always on the lookout for evil forces, he tells his students to be constantly vigilant.

Bringing Mad-Eye vividly to life in the new “Goblet of Fire” film is burly Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, a 50-year-old former teacher who has given memorable performances in such films as “Braveheart,” “Michael Collins,” “Artificial Intelligence: AI,” “Gangs of New York” and “Kingdom of Heaven.”

Q. Is it true you’re the first “Harry Potter” cast member who plays a teacher who actually was a teacher?

A. Yeah! That was quite a bit of fun, actually.

Q. Did you feel like you were returning to your teaching days?

A. It was kind of bizarre because I found myself kind of playing teachers I had myself, rather than – hopefully – myself as a teacher.

Q. So you had teachers as off-the-wall as Mad-Eye in school in Dublin?

A. Oh, yeah. They weren’t necessarily priests. Most of the real lunatics were laymen.

Q. Did you teach the same age students as Harry, Ron and Hermione?

A. I did, actually. It was all boys from about 12 to 18. You know, that interesting time of life!

Q. What did you teach?

A. I taught English and Irish – Gaelic. I had a good 10 years, and I really did enjoy it. You kind of make great friends with some of the kids too. It is a time in their life they prefer to forget, but if you like them to begin with, it kind of helps.

Q. Were you familiar with the “Harry Potter” books and movies before being cast as Mad-Eye?

A. I have four lad boys – they are not kids anymore, either. The youngest is 16 now. But they were mad for the books. There was a big shout when they heard there was a possibility of it, even.

Q. Your mad eye was just a hoot.

A. I’m glad you liked it. There were so many different ways to go with that. I always felt from discussions with (director) Mike (Newell), we kind of wanted this man to be the man of the road, and he had his various wars with the dark side and he had been out in the wilderness and had gone slightly barking mad. We devised that notion he was self-sufficient and he would have almost everything packed in that big coat of his that he needed, and he would fashion the eye himself with a little bit of magic. But also, it should look handmade and a little bit rough.

Q. Will you be doing the next “Potter” film – “The Order of the Phoenix”?

A. We are still talking about it. … I don’t know what’s involved yet, really. But the experience was great, and I hope to be back.

The birthday bunch

Singer Little Richard is 73. Guitarist J.J. Cale is 67. Opera singer Jose Carreras is 59. Singer Jim Messina (Loggins and Messina, Poco) is 58. Actress Morgan Brittany (“Dallas”) is 54. Country singer Tyler England is 42. Singer-guitarist John Rzeznik (The Goo Goo Dolls) is 40. Country singer Gary Allan is 38. Comedian Margaret Cho is 37. Actress Amy Acker (“Angel”) is 29. Actor Frankie Muniz is 20. Actor Ross Bagley (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) is 17.

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