Domhnall Gleeson on the hit show Run: 'It might offer a nice bit of escapism'


The first four episodes of Run, NPR's "best new show of 2020", have just arrived first on Showmax, with the remaining four episodes coming every Monday.

Seventeen years ago, college sweethearts, Ruby and Billy made a pact: if either of them ever texted the word "RUN" and the other replied with the same, they would drop everything, board the first train after 17:00 out of Grand Central Station, and travel across America together. But they're about to discover that the reality of taking that leap may not be quite how they pictured it...

Berlin Shooting Star winner Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Ex Machina) stars as Billy, opposite Emmy winner and Golden Globe nominee Merritt Wever (Unbelievable, Godless, Nurse Jackie) as Ruby. The cast also includes Emmy and Golden Globe winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), who's also executive producer; Golden Globe nominee Archie Panjabi (HBO's upcoming I Know This Much Is True, The Good Wife); Screen Actors Guild nominee Rich Sommer (Mad Men, Glow); and Sundance jury prize winner Tamara Podemski (Coroner).

HBO's genre-defying rom-com thriller has an 83% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics' consensus praises its "sharp subversions of rom-com clichés" and "Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson's electrifying performances."

Run is the brainchild of Vicky Jones, who was a writer on Killing Eve, directed the original stage production of Fleabag and went on to script edit that series, which won Best Comedy at both the 2019 Emmys and 2020 Golden Globes.

We chat to Domhnall to find out more about his role in show.  

Why did you want to be part of this?

I was already a massive fan of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vicky Jones, so I went to meet them and liked what they had to say about how the show would unfold. It was about love, and it had endless possibilities. The chance to work with those brilliant people on something so funny, fresh and exciting was too good to pass up.

Tell us about your character, Billy.

He's a successful life guru, but he tells a lot of lies, both to himself and other people.

I've played a couple of bad guys, but I never thought of Billy that way. I understand there are parts of his character which are awful, but I think he's trying to get better. That's no excuse for people in real life, but in drama it is! He may be capable of change and, if he is, Ruby is the person he should be with.

The only person he's honest with is Ruby. He lies to her too, but if he's honest with anybody, it'll be with Ruby. That's a good counterpoint for all the other stuff going on with him and all the lies elsewhere.

And Ruby?

I don't think Ruby's perfect either. There are also aspects of her personality, which are more anti-hero than hero. They're a good pairing that way. They both have an edge, but the story doesn't knock those edges off, it accentuates them, which I thought was really smart.

Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson in Run. (Showma
(MEET ME AT GRAND CENTRAL STATION: Merritt Wever (Ruby) and Domhnall Gleeson (Billy) in Run. Photo: Showmax)

Is Billy a romantic at heart?

Billy does his best until it's too difficult. That's how he is in every aspect of his life, except for when he's with Ruby. The reason he's like that is partly shaped by their relationship. He genuinely thought they'd be together forever. I think he spent 17 years thinking if he was back with Ruby, his life would be better - and then, all of a sudden, it seems to be happening.

Was it a treat to keep your own Irish accent and do some quite robust swearing?

Generally, I prefer to do accents, as perverse as that sounds. It's a nice way into a character. But it was a treat not to have to think about it for change. It's one less thing to get in the way. As for the swearing… Well, that's not entirely different to how it was on-set, to be honest!

Did you enjoy all the train travel?

I took a train across America when I was younger, at a time of great flux and discovery in my life. When I read the script, I was blown away by the similarities to my own experience and the questions I was asking myself at that time.

Have you ever wanted to make a run for it?

Well, I can't run anywhere at the moment, with the lockdown going on! But I understand the appeal of hopping on a train across America. Everybody gets overwhelmed at times, worries about the choices they've made, and feels they've made a prison for themselves. I understand where Billy and Ruby are coming from, although I'm not sure I'd ever have the balls to do what they do.

Merritt Wever and Domhnall Gleeson in Run. (Showma

(ON THE RUN: Merritt Wever (Ruby) and Domhnall Gleeson (Billy) in Run. Photo: Showmax)

How do you feel about the show's release at this very strange time?

There are obviously far more important things happening in the world right now, but it might offer a nice bit of escapism. The stuff that attracted me to Run - the fact that it's different, funny, exciting and about love - are still reasons to watch it. I worked as hard as I could on it, and I'm proud of it. I just hope people like it.



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