'Peaky Blinders' star Aidan Gillen puts the alt-right-meme episode behind him as he wins fans with his iconic roles on TV
Aidan will return as Aberama Gold on Season 3 of Peaky Blinders but before that, let us take a look at his career trajectory.
Aidan Gillen was not an unknown face when he appeared as the skilled manipulator and an owner of brothels in HBO's 'Game of Thrones', and it certainly was relieving to see the Irish actor join the starring cast of BBC One's 'Peaky Blinders'. Gillen has been a popular face on both television and on the big screen but unfortunately, for some time, he was the subject of a hilarious meme. That said, whatever character Gillen embodies he makes sure that he gives it his all in order to live in the skin of the character he plays. Perhaps that is why everytime we see Littlefinger in 'Game of Thrones' we want him to die so bad but then when he becomes the gypsy Aberama Gold in 'Peaky Blinders' we literally want Polly (Helen McCrory) to run away with him.
Born in Dublin, Gillen's acting career sky-rocketed as a teenager when he played the role of Nick Bottom, from Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', with the Dublin Youth Theatre. However, he gained immense popularity when he played Stuart Alan Jones in the Channel 4 television series 'Queer as Folk' and its sequel, for which he received a British Academy Television Award nomination for Best Actor. Gillen loved his role in the series since the sex scenes crossed every limit in broadcasting shows. For Gillen, coming from a conservative background, the role was the most revolting for him. He had explained in an interview with Guardian that he had "half expected some backlash and grief" from Catholic Ireland.
He made his entry to another big role as Tommy Carcetti in the acclaimed HBO series 'The Wire', for which he received an Irish Film & Television Award for Best Actor in a Lead Role in Television. The role was challenging for Gillen since, by the time he made his entry, the show was already three seasons old. "Most of the characters in that spend most of their time off screen, so you have to be able to fill it in. It's like opening a book in the middle and trying to understand a chapter. David Simon, the creator, made himself available to answer any questions about what had happened in the past, where a particular character had been."
2011 saw him pick up his legendary role as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Although this was a major role, due to the huge cast Gillen did not feel half the pressure which he had felt while working for 'The Wire'. He explained in an interview, "It's one of the biggest TV series in the world now. But again, it's a huge ensemble thing; you're never carrying too much of that weight. Nobody is. I'm in and out of it." Having read the whole of George R.R.Martin's 'A Song of Fire and Ice', Gillen mocked that the success of the show lies in "Tits. Beheadings. Wizards." However, he also acknowledged, "Big story, real characters rooted in reality with magic and sorcery on the periphery but family, war, death, power… all these things, they're universal themes."
The following year, however, was a different one. As he took up his role as CIA agent Bill Wilson in 'The Dark Knight Rises', Gillen's character was particularly noted in some Internet circles for his supposedly awkward dialogue delivery in the film's opening scene. In the scene, Gillen’s character is seen explaining to three hooded men that the first one to talk gets to stay on the plane. One of the men in question is Bane, played by Tom Hardy. While a line from their dialogue exchange was slightly twisted by Hardy to make it sound like, "I am a big guy for you", unfortunately, Gillen's buttocks became quite popular among users of 4chan. There’s a concept called “Baneposting” where trolls fill comment sections with references to a line spoken by Tom Hardy’s character, Bane, to Aidan Gillen’s character during the opening scene of 'The Dark Knight Rises'.
During Shia LaBeouf’s He Will Not Divide Us protest, there were some who showed up dressed as Gillen’s character from The Dark Knight Rises and reenacted the scene on the live stream.
Thankfully, all of that fell way behind as Gillen took up the role of the gypsy in 'Peaky Blinders' who asked Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) to make a boxing champion out of his son in exchange for the number of murders he had to commit for the Shelbys. It was around this time, that Gillen seemed to be juggling between extremely contradicting roles. On one hand, as Littlefinger he was playing the sly manipulator who was never loyal to anyone but himself, on the other hand, he was playing the recurring character Gold who was known for his savage method of slaying. However, his most unique performance was delivered when he picked up the role of Dr J Allen Hynek in History Channel's 'Project Blue Book'.
While keeping its appearance of the post-war '50s subtle and intact, the Robert Zemeckis-produced show has skillfully picked up incidents which were thoroughly investigated by Project Blue Book. Led by Dr. J Allen Hynek (played by Gillen) and Captain Edward J. Ruppelt (represented by Michael Quinn played by Michael Malarkey), the project was set up to help the government prove to people that the strange sightings on the sky are nothing more than phenomena with scientific explanations behind them. It was an interesting role for Gillen as he had explained, "If you don't have people like Galileo or Carl Sagan or Hynek looking for this stuff, really looking for it, we may never find it. We may never get told about it. So I'm drawn to these kinds of adventurers and seekers and dreamers, even if it's fantasy."
Gillen is set to return as Aberama Gold on BBC One's 'Peaky Blinders', Season 5, later this spring.