In 2003's Cold Mountain, Brendan Gleeson plays Stobrod Thewes, the father of Ruby Thewes played by Renée Zellweger. His character is a traveling minstrel, and according to imdb, Gleeson is a fine fiddle player who plays the violin pieces himself. His bandmate in the movie is Georgia, played by Jack White of the White Stripes, who also performs several songs for the soundtrack. He first appears in somewhat near the end of the film.

Here is a still of Brendan Gleeson as Stobrod Thewes:


In a scene very near the beginning of the movie, a fiddlist plays a song called Bonaparte's Retreat for a dying Confederate soldier in a field hospital, and then a second more sweet song. According to this youtube the second song is either Great High Mountain or Am I Born to Die.

Here is a still of the field hospital fiddlist:


Is this other character also played by Brendan Gleeson or someone related to him? On the one hand,

  1. He kind of looks like Brendan Gleeson
  2. Brendan Gleeson is listed as having performed his violin piece Bonaparte's Retreat in the soundtrack credits on imdb
  3. I can't figure out what this character's name is, but there is a character named Pistol played by a Sean Gleeson according to the extended credits on imdb, so maybe it's not Brendan but a brother or something?

On the other hand,

  1. When you watch him more carefully, he is clearly not the same person. And the facial hair is definitely different, as is his Southern accent.
  2. The Sean Gleeson on imdb doesn't appear to be the character in question, nor any relation of Brandon Gleeson.

So what is that character's name, and which actor portrays him? Is it Brendan Gleeson? Or some relation of his?

  • 1
    I've not seen the movie. Are you sure they are not the same character? Seems too much of a coincidence ... he's also a musician and certainly appears to be played by Brendan Gleeson or someone very much like him. (again not having seen the movie) why do you assume they are not the same. Facial hair changes over time, and accents in movies (especially when performed by someone from another country) have been known to change from scene to scene.
    – iandotkelly
    Nov 6, 2018 at 0:26
  • The video you link to has Brendan Gleeson and Jack Black credited. I can only conclude that this is Brendan Gleeson and since the characters are so similar in appearance, that they are both Stobrod Thewes.
    – iandotkelly
    Nov 6, 2018 at 1:27
  • Because when you watch the full scene, and see his face from every angle, it just doesn't appear to be the same actor.
    – ziggurism
    Nov 6, 2018 at 2:25
  • So how do you explain the IMDB credits for the song say that it is Brendan Gleeson? Again, it seems like a strong coincidence that they have an almost Brendan Gleeson lookalike for a song that IMDB claim is performed by Brendan Gleeson, a known violin player.
    – iandotkelly
    Nov 6, 2018 at 5:40
  • 1
    Wikipedia's summary of the plot has (early in the description) "while fellow soldier Stobrod Thewes plays a tune on his fiddle". This is Brendan Gleeson playing Stobrod Thewes.
    – iandotkelly
    Nov 6, 2018 at 5:47

1 Answer 1


The character at the starting of the movie, the one who is comforting the dying soldier at the field hospital and the one appearing at a later time as Ruby's father is the same one.

Both are Brendan Gleeson playing Stobrod Thewes.

From the Wiki:

Three years later, Inman fights in the Battle of the Crater and survives; he then comforts a dying acquaintance from Cold Mountain, while fellow soldier Stobrod Thewes plays a tune on his fiddle.

Also this explains:

By the time the story starts, he's gone off to fight in the war, and Ruby thinks he may be dead. Stobrod turns up partway through the story, having deserted the army......Eventually, the Home Guard finds Stobrod and Pangle and brutally shoots them. Astonishingly, Stobrod survives this....

Also if you are still in doubt here's movie script by the director. A search for Stobrod Thewes and we get him at the beginning of the movie:

Inman turns away, sees another Rebel, extravagantly costumed, a strange FIDDLE head protruding from his knapsack. This is STOBROD THEWES. He's bent over a dead Federal, examining his mouth. He reaches behind his back and roots around in the knapsack, producing A PAIR OF PLIERS, WHICH HE INSERTS INTO THE CORPSE'S MOUTH. He's yanking away when A SWINGING BOOT connects with his head and knocks him to the ground. ......


               Stobrod stands over Oakley. Consults with Inman.

                         What about Bonaparte's Retreat? That's 
                         one I play.

                         Play me something sweet. Like a girl's 
                         waiting for me.

So, he IS Ruby's father at the beginning of the movie, with whom you are having doubt.

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