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Gabriel Byrne –

Byrne in The Usual Suspects.

About Gabriel Byrne (1950 – )

Gabriel James Byrne, was the first of six children, was born in Walkinstown, Dublin 12, Dublin, Ireland, the son of a cooper and soldier, Dan, and a hospital nurse, Eileen (née Gannon) from Elphin, County Roscommon. He has four siblings: Donal, Thomas, Breda, and Margaret; another, Marian, died at an early age. Byrne was raised a strict Roman Catholic and educated in Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin, where he later taught Spanish and History. About his early training to become a priest, he said in an interview, "I spent five years in the seminary and I suppose it was assumed that one had a vocation. I realized subsequently that I didn't." He attended University College Dublin, where he studied archaeology and linguistics, becoming proficient in Irish. He played football in Dublin with Stella Maris.

In January 2011, he spoke in an interview on The Meaning of Life about being sexually abused by priests during his childhood.

Byrne worked in archaeology when he left UCD. He maintained his love of his language, later writing the first television drama in Irish, Draíocht, on Ireland's national Irish-language television station, TG4, when it began broadcasting in 1996.

Before becoming an actor, Byrne had many jobs, including archaeologist, cook, and Spanish and History schoolteacher at Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin, Dublin. He started acting at age 29, and began his career on stage with the Focus Theatre and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He later joined the Performing Arts Course in Sandymount Dublin 4 (Roslyn Park College) . Byrne came to prominence on the final season of the Irish television show The Riordans, subsequently starring in his own spin-off series, Bracken. His first play for television was Michael Feeney Callan's Love Is ... (RTE). He made his film debut in 1981, as King Uther Pendragon in John Boorman's King Arthur epic, Excalibur.

In 1983, he appeared with Richard Burton in the miniseries Wagner, co-starring Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson. In 1985, Byrne starred in the acclaimed political thriller Defence of the Realm, though he subsequently claimed he had been upstaged by his co-star, veteran actor Denholm Elliott: "I amended the actor's cliché to 'Never work with children, animals or Denholm Elliott'."

In 2007 Gabriel Byrne topped Kerry Film Festival's jury lineup.

Upon his return to theatre in 2008, he appeared as King Arthur in Camelot with the New York Philharmonic from 7 to 10 May, following the footsteps of veteran actors Richard Burton and Richard Harris.

Byrne was cast in a film adaptation of Flann O'Brien's metafictional novel At Swim-Two-Birds, alongside Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy. Actor Brendan Gleeson was set to direct the film. In October 2009, however, Gleeson expressed fear that, should the Irish Film Board be abolished as planned by the Irish State, the production might fall through.

Byrne starred as therapist Dr. Paul Weston in the critically acclaimed HBO primetime weeknight series In Treatment from 2008 to 2010. He was named as TV's "latest Dr. McDreamy" by The New York Times for this role, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series in 2008. He also received his first Emmy Award nomination (Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series) for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad won) that same year.

In 2011, Byrne signed up to appear in the new movie by Oscar-winning director Costa Gavras; Le Capital, an adaptation of Stéphane Osmont's novel of the same name.

He was cultural ambassador for Ireland for a while until he criticized the tourism initiative “The Gathering”, describing it as an attempt by Ireland's politicians and media to fleece wealthy Americans. Byrne also criticized the marketing strategy employed by Guinness known as Arthur's Day as "a cynical piece of exercise in a country which has a huge drinking problem."

Byrne, who retains his Irish citizenship, did not arrive in the United States until 1987, when he was 37. He had begun a relationship with actress Ellen Barkin, and had relocated to New York City to be with her. A year later, in 1988, Byrne married Barkin, with whom he has two children, John "Jack" Daniel (born 1989) and Romy Marion (born 1992). The couple separated amicably in 1993, and then divorced in 1999.

Byrne currently resides in Nolita, a neighborhood in Manhattan.

Byrne is also actively involved in various charities, in addition to being a human rights activist. In 2004, Byrne was appointed a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador. He became a patron of Croí (The West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation) in 1997 in response to the care given to his mother while she was a patient in a Galway hospital.

At the 5th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival in 2007, Byrne was presented with the first of the newly created Volta awards, for lifetime achievement in acting. He also received the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society, of Trinity College, Dublin on 20 February 2007. In November of that same year, he was awarded an honorary degree by the National University of Ireland, Galway; the president of the University, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said that this award is in recognition of the actor's "outstanding contribution to Irish and international film".

Although the actor is noted as a fiercely private person, he released a documentary for the 20th Galway Film Fleadh in the summer of 2008 called Stories from Home, an intimate portrait about his life. It premiered in the US in September 2009 at the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival.

Byrne mentioned in interviews and his 1995 autobiography, Pictures in My Head that he hates being called "brooding". He has been listed by People as one of the "Sexiest Men Alive". Entertainment Weekly has also dubbed Byrne as one of the hottest celebrities over the age of 50.

Byrne married his long term partner, Hannah Beth King, on 4 August 2014 at Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork, Ireland.

Gabriel Byrne's movie credits include...

Jack Deebs

Year Movie Role
1978 The Riordans Pat Barry
1978 Bracken Pat Barry
1981 Love Is ... Larry
1981 Excalibur Uther Pendragon
1983 Hanna K. Joshua Herzog
1983 The Keep Sturmbannfuhrer Erich Kaempffer
1983 Wagner Karl Ritter
1984 Reflections William Masters
1985 Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus
1985 Defence of the Realm Nicholas 'Nick' Mullen
1986 Gothic Lord Byron
1987 Lionheart The Black Prince
1987 Hello Again Dr. Kevin Scanlon
1987 Julia and Julia Paolo Vinci
1987 Siesta Augustine
1987 The Courier Val
1988 A Soldier's Tale Saul
1989 Dark Obsession Lord Hugo Bruckton
1990 Miller's Crossing Tom Reagan
1990 Shipwrecked Lt. John Merrick
1992 Into the West Papa Reilly
1992 Cool World
1993 Point of No Return Bob
1993 A Dangerous Woman Colin Mackey
1994 A Simple Twist of Fate John Newland
1994 Trial by Jury Daniel Graham
1994 Little Women Professor Friedrich Bhaer
1994 Prince of Jutland Fenge
1995 The Usual Suspects Dean Keaton
1995 Buffalo Girls Teddy Blue
1995 Dead Man Charlie Dickinson
1995 Frankie Starlight Jack Kelly
1996 Draíocht Father
1996 Mad Dog Time Ben London
1996 The Last of the High Kings Jack Griffin
1996 Dr. Hagard's Disease
1996 The Lark in the Clear Air
1996 Somebody is Waiting Roger Ellis
1997 Smilla's Sense of Snow The mechanic
1997 The End of Violence Ray Bering
1997 Weapons of Mass Distraction Lionel Powers
1997 This Is the Sea Rohan
1998 Polish Wedding Bolek
1998 The Man in the Iron Mask D'Artagnan
1998 The Brylcreem Boys Sean O'Brien
1998 Quest for Camelot Sir Lionel
1998 Enemy of the State Fake Brill
1999 Stigmata Father Andrew Kiernan
1999 End of Days The Man/Satan/Choirboy
2000 Madigan Men Benjamin "Ben" Madigan
2000 Canone inverso Jeno Varga
2002 Virginia's Run Ford Lofton
2002 Spider Bill Cleg
2002 Emmett's Mark Jack Marlow/Stephen Bracken
2002 Ghost Ship Captain Sean Murphy
2003 Shade Charlie Miller
2004 Vanity Fair The Marquess of Steyne
2004 P.S. Peter Harrington
2004 The Bridge of San Luis Rey Brother Juniper
2005 Assault on Precinct 13 Captain Marcus Duvall
2005 Wah-Wah Harry Compton
2006 Played Eddie
2006 Jindabyne Stewart Kane
2006 Emotional Arithmetic Christopher Lewis
In Treatment Dr. Paul Weston
2009 Butte, America Narrator
2009 Perrier's Bounty Voice of The Reaper
2009 Leningrad Phillip Parker
2012 Le Capital Dittmar Rigule
2012 I, Anna Detective Bernie Reid
2012 Secret State Tom Dawkins (Deputy Prime Minister/Prime Minister)
2013 Le temps de L'aventure l'homme
2013 Vikings Earl Haraldson (Viking chieftain)
2013 All Things to All Men Joseph Corsco
2014 Vampire Academy Victor Dashkov
2014 Quirke Quirke
2014 The 33 Andre Sougarret
2015 Louder Than Bombs
2015 Nobody Wants the Night

Memorable Quotes

“I would like to break out of this "dark, brooding" image, cause I'm actually not like that at all. In Ireland, brooding is a term we use for hens. A brooding hen is supposed to lay eggs. Every time somebody says "He's dark and brooding" I think: "He's about to lay an egg".”

“The truth is that actors don't really have any control over the end product. To think that you have control is a delusion and it's also incredibly frustrating to be investing that much hope into something that essentially boils down to marketing. So you try to do movies that you feel connected with and you work with directors and actors you admire.”

“Sometimes, the vanity of actors is that we imagine we're so completely different on screen from who we are in real life. When really, all actors play themselves.”

“It's the job of the director to be like a great orchestra leader, and bring out the music that the writer wrote, through the instruments, which are the actors.”

“[on dealing with depression] - A single negative thought begins in your head. That single negative thought interacts with another negative thought and becomes a reality. And the world seems like the darkest, bleakest, blackest place that you can possibly be. And it has nothing to do with logic, it has nothing to do with reality.”

“[on being beaten in school, specifically in math class] - I feared being beaten, and I was beaten very regularly. It did affect my sense of myself. ... I didn't feel that I suffered at the time. I just felt it was the way of the world. It took many years to come to terms with and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.”

Did You Know

Before becoming an actor, he was an archaeologist, a schoolteacher, a short-order cook, and a bullfighter.

In a November 1999 interview with the New York Post, he claimed to have been molested by his Latin teacher while at an English seminary preparing for priesthood.

He went from a priest in Stigmata (1999) to Satan in End of Days (1999).

Was nominated for Broadway's 2000 Tony Award as Best Actor (Play) for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten."

He has Irish citizenship and resident alien status in the United States.

Learned to speak Gaelic in college and still speaks it fluently.

Gabriel Byrne in All Things to All Men (2013).
Gabriel Byrne in Defence of the Realm (1985).
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Byrne and Charlotte Rampling in I, Anna (2012).
Gabriel Byrne in In Treatment (2008-2010).
Byrne in Miller's Crossing (1990).
With Ellen Barkin in Siesta (1987).
In Stigmata (1999).
As corrupt cop Dean Keaton in The Usual Suspects (1995).
Byrne in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998).
Byrne in The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004).
Gabriel Byrne in The 33 (2014).
In Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997).
Byrne in Enemy of the State (1998).
Gabriel Byrne in End of Days (1999).
In Assault on Precinct 13 (2005).
Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson in Vikings (2013).
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Byrne in Vampire Academy (2014).