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Gabriel Byrne

Gabriel Byrne
Gabriel Byrne in 2010
Born Gabriel James Byrne
(1950-05-12) 12 May 1950
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, author
Years active 1978–present
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)

Ellen Barkin (m. 1988–99)

Hannah Beth King (m. 2014)[1][2][3]
Children 2

Gabriel James Byrne (born 12 May 1951) is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he joined London's Royal Court Theatre in 1979. Byrne's screen debut came in the Irish soap opera The Riordans and the spin-off show Bracken. He has now starred in over 35 feature films, such as The Usual Suspects, Miller's Crossing, Stigmata, Spider and End of Days, in addition to writing two. Byrne's producing credits include the Academy Award–nominated In the Name of the Father. He has received much critical acclaim for his role as Dr. Paul Weston in the HBO drama In Treatment.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
  • Stage 5
  • Awards and nominations 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Byrne, 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.[4] He has four siblings: Donal, Thomas, Breda, and Margaret; another, Marian, died at an early age. Byrne was raised a strict Roman Catholic[5][6] and educated in Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin, where he later taught Spanish and History.[7] 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 realised subsequently that I didn't."[8] He attended University College Dublin, where he studied archaeology and linguistics,[9] becoming proficient in Irish. He played football in Dublin with the Stella Maris Football Club, in Drumcondra.[10]

In January 2011, he spoke in an interview on The Meaning of Life about being sexually abused by priests during his childhood.[11][12][13][14]


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,[9] 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,[9] 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.[9]

In 1983, he appeared with Richard Burton in the miniseries Wagner (1983), co-starring Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.[15] 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'."[16]

Byrne holding his Herald Angel, an award given to him at the 2006 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

In 2007 Gabriel Byrne topped Kerry Film Festival's jury lineup.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

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[20] 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,[21] an adaptation of Stéphane Osmont's novel of the same name.

He was cultural ambassador for Ireland for a while until he criticised the tourism initiative “The Gathering”, describing it as an attempt by Ireland's politicians and media to fleece wealthy Americans.[22] Byrne also criticised 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."[23]

Personal life

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.[24]

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".[25]

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.

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.[26]

Byrne married his long term partner, Hannah Beth King, on 4 August 2014 at Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork, Ireland.[1][2][3]


Year Film Role Notes
1978 The Riordans Pat Barry
1978 Bracken Pat Barry Jacob's Award for Best Actor in a Television Series in 1979.
1981 Love Is ... Larry (TV play)
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 Byrne met his future wife, Ellen Barkin, on the set of this movie.
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 Also the associate producer
1992 Cool World Jack Deebs
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 Byrne wrote this Irish-language drama.
1996 Mad Dog Time Ben London
1996 The Last of the High Kings Jack Griffin Also the writer and executive producer
1996 Dr. Hagard's Disease Also the executive producer
1996 The Lark in the Clear Air Executive producer, writer and director
1996 Somebody is Waiting Roger Ellis Also the co-producer
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 Also the co-producer
1998 Quest for Camelot Sir Lionel (animated) (voice)
1998 Enemy of the State Fake Brill
1999 Stigmata Father Andrew Kiernan Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1999 End of Days The Man/Satan Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor
2000 Madigan Men Benjamin "Ben" Madigan Also the co-executive producer
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
2008–2010 In Treatment Dr. Paul Weston Golden Globe Award—Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Nomination—Emmy Award for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series
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) 4 Episodes
2013 Le temps de L'aventure l'homme
2013 Vikings Earl Haraldson (Viking chieftain) 6 episodes
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 Filming
2015 Nobody Wants the Night


Year Theatre Title Role Notes
2000 Roslyn Park A Moon for the Misbegotten James 'Jim' Tyrone, Jr. Nominated for a Tony Award (Best Actor in a Play) and Drama Desk Award (Outstanding Actor in a Play); Winner of the Theatre World Award
2003 Off-Broadway The Exonerated Kerry Max Cooke
2005 Broadway A Touch of the Poet Cornelius Melody Winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play
2008 Off-Broadway Camelot King Arthur Performance for the New York Philharmonic's annual musical event from 7–10 May 2008

Awards and nominations

Year Event Category Outcome Notes
1979 Jacob's Awards Jacob's Award for Best Actor in a TV Series (Drama) Won For Bracken
1987 Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actor Won For Gothic and Defence of the Realm
1995 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures NBR Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble Won For The Usual Suspects
1998 Satellite Awards Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated For Weapons of Mass Distraction
Grammy Awards Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album (Children) Nominated For The Star-Child and The Nightingale and the Rose (Oscar Wilde)
1999 Cinequest Film Festival Maverick Tribute Award Won
2000 Theatre World Awards Theatre World Award for Acting Won For A Moon for the Misbegotten
Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Nominated For A Moon for the Misbegotten
Razzie Awards Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor Nominated For End of Days and Stigmata
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favourite Actor (Horror) Nominated For Stigmata
2005 Irish Film and Television Awards IFTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Feature Film Nominated For Wah-Wah
2006 Inside Film Awards IF Award for Best Actor Nominated For Jindabyne
Australian Film Institute Awards AFI Award for Best Lead Actor Nominated For Jindabyne
Outer Critics Circle Awards Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play Won For A Touch of the Poet
2007 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival Volta Award for Lifetime Achievement in Acting Won This was the first year for the presentation of the award.
2008 Irish Film and Television Awards IFTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Feature Film Nominated For Jindabyne
Primetime Emmy Awards Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated For In Treatment
Dingle Film Festival Gregory Peck Excellence in the Art of Film Award Won This is the first year for the presentation of the award, which was named in honour of the late Gregory Peck.
Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama Won For In Treatment
Satellite Awards Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama Nominated For In Treatment
2009 Primetime Emmy Awards Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated For In Treatment


  1. ^ a b English, Eoin (7 August 2014). "Gabriel Byrne’s secret wedding finalised over coffee and scones in popular Cork restaurant".  
  2. ^ a b Stack, Sarah (6 August 2014). "Actor Gabriel Byrne weds girlfriend Hannah Beth in secret Cork ceremony".  
  3. ^ a b McBride, Caitlin (19 August 2014). "The look of love: Newlyweds Gabriel Byrne and Hannah King stroll hand in hand".  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Mottram, James (2007-05-18). "Gabriel Byrne: Not one of the usual suspects".  
  6. ^ George Rush, Joanna Molloy, Jo Piazza, Chris Rovzar (2004-12-06). "Nelly's sure been catering to Ashanti". Preen not Gabriel Byrne 
  7. ^ "Old boy Gabriel's starring role in city school reunion". 
  8. ^ "Coming out as atheist: Noel Gallagher & Gabriel Byrne".  
  9. ^ a b c d Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 2000
  10. ^ Wright, Alice (2 August 2013). "One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson signs for Doncaster plus 10 other sporting celebs".  
  11. ^ "Gabriel Byrne: I was abused as a child". London: 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  12. ^ McDonald, Henry (2010-01-19). "Gabriel Byrne tells of childhood sexual abuse". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  13. ^ "Actor Gabriel Byrne tells of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy". London: 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  14. ^ Dziemianowicz, Joe (21 January 2010). In Treatment's' Gabriel Byrne reveals he was sexually abused while attending Irish seminary school"'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  15. ^ "A flame of love never quenched". The Irish Times. 2010-08-08. Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  16. ^ "Obituary: Denholm Elliott". The Independent. 7 October 1992. 
  17. ^ Gabriel Byrne Tops Kerry Film Fest Jury Lineup
  18. ^ Jaafar, Ali (2 September 2009). "Parallel eyes Irish projects". Variety. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  19. ^ Ryan, Conor (2009-10-15). "Gleeson: Film plans will collapse if Bord Snip implemented". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  20. ^ Ferla, Ruth La (2008-02-28). "'"New York Times Article – 'He Listens. He Cares. He Isn't Real.. Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  21. ^ "Gabriel Byrne Enters 'Le Capital', Irish Actor in Talks To Star". IFTN. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  22. ^ "Gabriel Byrne: Religion didn't do me any good". Irish Independent. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  23. ^ O'Shea, James (4 December 2012). "Gabriel Byrne again slams The Gathering and Arthur's Day: Actor says Ireland needs a real relationship with the Diaspora". Irish Central. Retrieved 4 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Polsky, Sara (April 30, 2010). "Actor Gabriel Byrne Buys in Nolita's 211 Elizabeth". Curbed.
  25. ^ "Honorary degree for Irish star". 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  26. ^ D'Angelo, Beverly. "GILFy Pleasures: 33 Hotties Over Age 50". Retrieved 2010-08-14. 

Further reading

  • Barton, Ruth (May 2006). Acting Irish in Hollywood: from Fitzgerald to Farrell. Dublin: Irish Academic Press. pp. 163–179.  
  • Byrne, Gabriel (1995). Pictures in My Head. Boulder, Colombia: Roberts Rinehart.  
  • Grunert, Andrea (2006). "La lumière derrière le masque : une approche du jeu de Gabriel Byrne". In Starfield, Penny. Masque et lumière (in French). Corlet: Corlet éditions Diffusion. pp. 222–229.  
  • O'Connor, Áine (1996). Leading Hollywood: Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea, Patrick Bergin, Pierce Brosnan. Dublin: Wolfhound Press.  
  • O'Connor, Áine (1997). Hollywood Irish: In Their Own Words; Illustrated Interviews with Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and Patrick Bergin. Boulder, Colombia: Roberts Rinehart.  

External links

  • Gabriel Byrne at the Internet Movie Database
  • "Star Bio's: Gabriel Byrne". Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. 
  • Gabriel Byrne's entry in Art of Amnesty
  • Gabriel Byrne video interview on Jindabyne and In Treatment
  • : The Art of ListeningFresh AirNPR Gabriel Byrne discusses his role on "In Treatment" (30 May 2009)
  • Gabriel Byrne tells of childhood sexual abuse at
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