The embodiment of the line "when Irish eyes are smiling, they're up to something bad," Aidan Gillen oozed ruthless charisma and wicked sex appeal in his role as the sexually prolific Stuart Alan Jones in the 1999 British TV series Queer As Folk. Bringing wry humor and understatement to a potentially over-the-top role, Gillen earned a reputation as one of the U.K.'s most compulsively watchable new performers.
Born in Dublin, Gillen got his professional start in the late '80s, appearing in minor film roles. He worked steadily through the 1990s, in film and on television, popping up in such diverse offerings as Circle of Friends (1995), Some Mother's Son (1996), and Jez Butterworth's Mojo (1997). His major breakthrough role was inarguably that of Queer As Folk's Stuart, an arrogant, vain, and thoroughly sexy PR executive who strips countless men of both their clothing and resistance. The success of the controversial miniseries ensured that it -- and its talented actors -- would be back for a second go-round, which followed in 2000. That same year, Gillen found accompanying acclaim on the big screen, in Jamie Thraves' acclaimed directorial debut The Low Down, in which he starred as an amiable but frustrated commercial artist whose life changes when he meets a radiant, ambitious woman. He appeared in both My Kingdom and Lorna Doone, as well as the action comedy Shanghai Knights before joining the cast of the revered HBO series The Wire in that show's third season. When his time on that program came to a close he was in the action film 12 Rounds, and then was cast in the series Identity.