A child actor in Ireland from the age of 8, before “Game of Thrones” Jack Gleeson was best known as a small boy with impossibly large eyes in “Batman Begins.” In the first chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, he shares a brief, adorable scene with the caped crusader — a role credited as “Little Boy on the Balcony.”
In 2011, Gleeson was cast on “Game of Thrones” as Joffrey Baratheon, and quickly became the character viewers loved to hate the most. We watched him grow from the whiny, spiteful, and vengeful Prince of the Seven Kingdoms into the whiny, spiteful and vengeful King of the Seven Kingdoms after the death of his (supposed) father, King Robert Baratheon. His selfish antics cause the death of Arya’s friend the stable boy, Sansa’s direwolf Lady, and eventually the most shocking death of the first season, the execution of former Hand of the King Ned Stark. This would turn out to be the act of cruelty that famously made it clear that no one is safe from death on “Game of Thrones,” not even the lead billed actor in the credits. Jack Gleeson’s face would go on to become the embodiment of evil for many.
In yet another twist, King Joffrey dies abruptly in Season 4 at his own wedding. As it turns out, Jack Gleeson was glad to leave the role — and stardom itself — behind. At the time, he told Entertainment Weekly, “I’ve been acting since age 8. I just stopped enjoying it as much as I used to.” He’s since stayed active in the theater as a producer, co-founding the Collapsing Horse Theatre Company, and attended college at Trinity University in Dublin. Recently he did return to television in a brief role on comedian Sara Pascoe’s series “Out of Her Mind,” but even that was a sort of meta-commentary on the villainous role that led him to turn away from the spotlight. Gleeson plays the ghost or vision of a pregnancy the main character chose not to carry to term years before — Pascoe told the Independent that she specifically decided to “choose an actor that everyone wishes was dead.”