"With 'Harry Potter,' there were books so people largely knew what was going to happen," Gleeson says. "This is different because the fervor not only of the anticipation of seeing the film but in finding out what happens is at a much higher level."
Gleeson's theory on why "Star Wars" has become such a massive part of pop culture is that it was a perfect storm of creative elements. He says it started with the genius of George Lucas, who envisioned the world, coupled with the perfect casting of characters.
And one cast member who helped bridge the "Star Wars" worlds was the late Carrie Fisher. Gleeson was a co-presenter at the BAFTA Awards in London with Fisher. He can't talk about whether or not he worked with Fisher on "The Last Jedi" but can only say that being in the same film with her was "amazing."
"She was a special person. She lasts not only in her work but in her relationships. She put a lot of good out in the world by being herself," Gleeson says. "She was a live wire who just didn't give a (expletive). She was also full of love and generosity."
Generally, Gleeson -- who is the son of actor Brendan Gleeson -- has landed roles that have not had such manias behind them. He started acting when he was 18, appearing in the television miniseries "Rebel Heart." Since then, his credits have included "The Revenant," "True Grit," "Dredd," "Black Mirror" and "Goodbye Christopher Robin."
Unlike so many of the "Star Wars" cast members who became fans of the franchise through seeing the first six movies, the 34-year-old Gleeson's love for the stories that unfold in a galaxy far, far away started in a very different way. He had only seen bits and pieces of the original films before seeing "Phantom Menace" in the theaters.
His first attraction to the "Star Wars" world came through the movie-related toys. Gleeson was fascinated by his cousin's toy version of the At-At Walker that was introduced in "The Empire Strikes Back." And now, the circle is complete, as there have been several General Hux action figure toys.
"That is outrageous. It is absolutely outrageous," Gleeson says of seeing himself as a toy. "And there is a LEGO version of Hux. When I was a kid, LEGO was it. It blows my mind that the children of my friends and family will get to play with a LEGO version of me."
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