‘Run’ on HBO: Who Plays Billy Johnson, Ruby’s College Sweetheart?

HBO’s new comedy-thriller series, Run, follows the story of two ex-flames who abandon their lives to fulfill a pact they made 17 years prior. Domhnall Gleeson plays Billy Johnson on the show, but who is the actor and what else has he been in? 

Domhnall Gleeson
Domhnall Gleeson in ‘Run’ | Ken Woroner/HBO

Who is Domhnall Gleeson and where have you seen him before?

Gleeson is the son of award-winning actor Brendan Gleeson who grew up with his parents and three brothers, including actor Brian Gleeson, in Dublin, Ireland. After pursuing a degree in arts from the Dublin Institute of Technology, Gleeson went on to act in a number of theater productions and landed a part in the British TV series Rebel Heart in 2001.

Since then, Gleeson has appeared in a variety of popular films and TV projects including True Grit, Anna Karenina, Frank, and Black Mirror. In 2010 and 2011, he starred Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 as Bill Weasley opposite his father, Brendan, who played Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody.

Domnhall Gleeson
Domnhall Gleeson | Matt Crossick/PA Images/Getty Images

Gleeson’s most notable recent role was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker. In the trio of films, the 36-year-old actor plays General Armitage Hux, the commander of the First Order’s Starkiller Base who tries to usurp Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) command. 

Other notable films Gleeson has starred in include Ex Machina, Goodbye Christopher Robin, American Made, The Revenant, Mother!, Peter Rabbit, and The Kitchen

Gleeson plays Billy Johnson on HBO’s ‘Run’

On Run, Gleeson plays the role of Billy Johnson, a famous self-help guru who texts his former college sweetheart Ruby (Merritt Wever) the word “RUN.” Billy’s message prompts Ruby to immediately abandon her mundane suburban life and jump on a plane to New York. 

Once there, she meets Billy on a train, just as the two had planned 17 years prior. He tells Ruby that he texted her while drunk because she is the only person in the world he cares about seeing. However, from the texts he’s getting from his personal assistant Fiona (Archie Panjabi), it looks like there’s more to his story than he’s letting on.

 ‘Run’ was created for HBO by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vicky Jones

Killing Eve writer Vicky Jones and her longtime friend and collaborator Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame are the masterminds behind Run.  Waller-Bridge, who plays Laurel on the series, also serves as the show’s executive producer.  

In an interview with Refinery 29, when talking about the series and its characters, Jones revealed that Billy might seem like the instigator, but it was Ruby who created the pact as a “tiny insurance policy.” 

“It was probably Ruby who started it because she was the one who was succeeding at that time,” Jones told the outlet. “She came up with [the pact] at a point when she felt that she needed to give Billy something, but she probably didn’t think she was going to have to wait for 15 years for them to get back [to each other] — A lot of time passes of course before they come back together.”

New episodes of Run air Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.