For actor Domhnall Gleeson, Chicago “remains quite the magnet for me, but a magnet that I have yet to again succumb to its pull!”
Gleeson, who stars as author and playwright A.A. Milnein “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” the new film about the creation of Winnie-the-Pooh, recalled during an interview in London “a truly magical time I spent in your city a number of years ago.”
It was on one of the Irish actor’s first trips to the U.S.“I got on that trans-continental train across America and, when we stopped in Chicago, I got off and stayed for a few days. I had been told that Chicago was the most American of all the American cities — and if I wanted to really understand the States, I had to get to know Chicago.”
There was only one problem. Gleeson became so enamored of our Art Institute (which he called “that glorious gallery next to that wonderful Grant Park”) that he didn’t do much else while in town.
“I was there from the time they opened in the morning, until they threw me out. Oh, my God! Your Art Institute is so amazing. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to,” enthused Gleeson. “I must get back there. The Impressionists alone are enough of a draw, but there is so much more in that building.”
As for”Goodbye Christopher Robin” (opening Friday), the normally quite animated and gregarious actor (also appearing now in “American Made” and “mother!”) admitted he had to pull things back quite a bit to play the Pooh creator.
“He was quite a repressed character and very, very private,” said Gleeson, noting Milne clearly suffered from what today we recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder from his exposure to horrible carnage in World War I. Fortunately, his wife, Daphne, and only child, Christopher (the model for the fictional Christopher Robin in the “Pooh” tales), “plus his son’s vivid imagination helped to bring him out of his fits of depression,” said Gleeson.
In real life, as is shown in the film, Christopher Milne was exploited by his parents to help promote the “Pooh” books — which became a worldwide sensation. Gleeson excuses them “because back then they simply didn’t know about what could happen — what the price of intense celebrity could do to a person, especially a young child.
“As today we understand the intricacies of PTSD, we also know how fame — too much unwanted scrutiny — can have disastrous consequences.”