"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. Everytime somebody says "He's dark and brooding" I
think: "He's about to lay an egg"." Gabriel Byrne.
Irish actor Gabriel Byrne was first noticed while playing character Pat Barry in
his country’s TV series "The Riordans" (1965) and its spin-off series "Bracken"
(1978). An actor since the 1960s, Byrne won his earliest significant film role
as father of Arthur, Uther Pendragon, in John Boorman's Excalibur (1981). He
continued to portray major roles in films like Gothic (1986), Miller's Crossing
(1990), Little Women (1994) and The Usual Suspects (1995). On stage, he was
nominated a Tony Award (2000) for starring in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "A
Moon for the Misbegotten."
Byrne’s most recent films include Shade, Vanity Fair, P.S.,The Bridge of San
Luis Rey and Assault on Precinct 13. He will soon act in the upcoming films
Wah-Wah, Jindabyne, The Namesake, Leningrad and Played.
Saphire blue-eyed, 5' 11" tall Gabriel Byrne was sweetly linked to supermodel
Naomi Campbell (born on May 22, 1970; dated 1997-1998) and actress Julia Ormond
(born on January 4, 1965; met during filming of Smilla's Sense of Snow (1996)).
He was married to and divorced from actress Ellen Barkin, who gave him two
Childhood and Family:
In Dublin, Ireland, Gabriel Byrne was born on May 12, 1950 to a nurse mother and
a Guinness barrel maker father. The first of six proper Catholic children,
Gabriel desired to be a Catholic priest and studied at a Roman Catholic seminary
in Birmingham, England. Four years later, he was expelled from the seminary
after being caught smoking. Gabriel later won a scholarship to study
archaeology, languages, and phonetics at Dublin's University College.
"I know that I will have a relationship with this woman until the day I die. I
have tremendous loyalty to her. She's the mother of my children. How could I be
nasty or vindictive to her?" Gabriel Byrne.
In a film set of Siesta (1987), Gabriel met actress Ellen Barkin (born on April
16, 1954). The couple tied the knot in the following year, but they divorced in
1993. They shared two children, daughter Romey Marion (born in November 18,
1992) and son Jack Daniel (born in 1989). Gabriel currently lives in New York,
USA and Dublin, Ireland.
"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." Gabriel Byrne.
Originally desiring to be a priest but later was expelled from an English
seminary, Gabriel Byrne then relocated to Ireland and did a string of odd jobs
like a cook, a bullfighter, a teddy-bear-eye installer, an archaeologist and a
Spanish and Gaelic teacher at a Catholic girls school. Meanwhile, he began
participating in amateur theater and then joined with local theaters in Dublin,
the Focus Theatre, an experimental repertory company run by future filmmaker Jim
Sheridan, and the Abbey Theatre (for two years).
In 1965, Byrne won the regular role of Pat Barry in the long-running Irish soap
opera "The Riordans" and reprised his role in its spin-off series "Bracken"
(1978), which nabbed him a Jacob's Awards for Best Actor in a TV Series – Drama.
He also debuted in the British feature On a Paving Stone Mounted and was cast in
the US-Netherlands drama co-production "The Outsider" (starring an aged Sterling
Byrne headed to London in 1979 and signed up with the Royal Court and the
National Theatre. He subsequently scored his first significant role as Arthur’s
father, Uther Pendragon, in John Boorman’s classic King Arthur epic based on
Thomas Malory’s book, Excalibur (1981, starring Nicol Williamson and Nigel
Terry). Besides acting in the miniseries "The Search for Alexander the Great"
(1981) and "Wagner" (1983), as well as the TV movie Joyce in June (1982), Byrne
appeared in the 1983 films like Robert Bierman’s The Rocking Horse Winner,
Constantin Costa-Gavras' Hanna K. and Michael Mann's The Keep.
After starring in Kevin Billington’s adaptation of John Banville’s novel, the
romantic drama Reflections (1984), Byrne played the lead role of a young
reporter for a British daily newspaper, Nicholas 'Nick' Mullen, in David Drury’s
political thriller, Defense of the Realm (1985, costarring Greta Scacchi and
Denholm Elliott). He then portrayed the title role of Christopher Columbus in
the CBS-TV widely received miniseries with the same name and became Mussolini's
son Vittorio in the NBC miniseries "Mussolini: The Untold Story" (both in 1985).
Before moving to New York City, Byrne starred as Lord Byron in Ken Russell's
biopic drama Gothic (1986) and took home an International Fantasy Film Award for
Best Actor. In the subsequent year, he landed roles as merciless slaver Black
Prince in Franklin J. Schaffner’s Lionheart: The Children's Crusade (alongside
Eric Stoltz) and as Kathleen Turner’s husband in Peter Del Monte’s Italian drama
Julia and Julia. He was also cast in films like Shelley Long supernatural comedy
vehicle Hello Again (1987), Mary Lambert’s screen version of Patrice Chaplin’s
novel, the ambitious thriller Siesta (also in 1987, opposite future wife Ellen
Barkin) and Frank Deasy’s action The Courier (1988).
Larry Parr then handed him the leading role of a British soldier who is fighting
in the trenches of France during World War II in his drama movie based on the
novel by M.K. Joseph, A Soldier's Tale (1988, costarring Marianne Basler) and
Nick Broomfield gave him the starring role of Hugo, a heir to a fortune who is
married to Amanda Donohoe, in his psychodrama film Diamond Skulls (1989).
In the early 1990s, Byrne became a cool-headed enigmatic organized crime
lieutenant in the Coen brothers' stylized feature Miller's Crossing and was
featured as a fierce pirate in Nils Gaup’s adaptation of O.V. Falck-Ytter’s
book, Hakon Hakonsen (a.k.a. Shipwrecked). He then both served as associate
producer and starred in Mike Newell’s Into the West (1992) and worked as
executive producer in Jim Sheridan’s acclaimed movie In the Name of the Father
(1993, starring Daniel Day-Lewis).
Byrne next portrayed a comic book artist who created and then is seduced by Kim
Basinger in Ralph Bakshi's fusion of animation and live-action Cool World (1992)
and played a government agent who trains Bridget Fonda's convicted murderer to
be a hired assassin in John Badham's remake of French director Luc Besson's La
Femme Nikita, Point of No Return (1993). He also co-starred as an itinerant
handyman in Stephen Gyllenhaal's A Dangerous Woman (1993, with Debra Winger and
Barbara Hershey) and landed featured roles in such films as All Things Bright
and Beautiful, Royal Deceit, A Simple Twist of Fate, Trial by Jury, Little Women
and Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man.
Along with Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollak and Stephen Baldwin,
Byrne portrayed five career criminals in director Bryan Singer's labyrinthine
crime drama The Usual Suspects (1995). The rest of the 1990s watched him acting
in the heartwarming drama Frankie Starlight (1995, as a kindly Irish customs
officer), Dr Hagard's Disease (1996, also served as executive producer), Mad Dog
Time (1996, with ex-wife Ellen Barkin) and Summer Fling (1996, also worked as
co-executive producer and screenwriter). He also could be seen in Somebody Is
Waiting (1996), Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997, opposite Julia Ormond) and the
drama The End of Violence (1997, as a surveillance expert). Behind the screen,
Byrne made his directing debut with The Lark in The Clean Air (1996), which he
also wrote and produced.
In the HBO comedy Weapons of Mass Distraction (1997) Byrne played a rival
executives opposite Ben Kingsley. He followed it up with This Is the Sea (1997,
alongside Richard Harris), Polish Wedding (1998, with Claire Danes and Lena
Olin), The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and the World War II romance The
Brylcreem Boys (1998, also co-produced). Afterward, watch him acting in Tony
Scott's thriller Enemy of the State (1998, as a mysterious surveillance
professional), Stigmata (1999, as a Vatican-sanctioned investigator) and the
apocalyptical End of Days (1999, as the human incarnation of Satan, starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger). Meanwhile, he hosted the "Saturday Night Live" in
October 1995, co-wrote screenplay, co-executive produced and acted for the
1977-set teen romance Last of the High Kings, as well as lent his voice in the
animated feature Quest for Camelot (1998). He also founded production company
Plurabelle Films, named after Anna Livia Plurabelle, a character in James
Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.
The new millennium saw Byrne received a Tony nomination as Actor in a Play after
starring as James Tyrone, Jr. opposite Cherry Jones and Roy Dotrice in the stage
revival of Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten.” On the silver screen,
he astonished moviegoers with his films like the 2000’s Canone inverso - making
love, When Brendan Met Trudy, Virginia's Run and the 2002’s independent feature
Spider (as Ralph Finnes' father), the crime drama Emmett's Mark (helmed by Keith
Snyder) and the spooky thriller Ghost Ship (as a salvaged vessel captain). He
also worked as co-executive producer and co-starred with Dotrice in the ABC fall
sitcom "Madigan Men", which tells about three generations of Irish men living
under one roof in New York and their romantic life. As for his production
company, Plurabelle Films produced the Belfast-set coming of age comedy Mad
About Mambo in 2000).
More recent, Byrne added to his acting resume such films as the poker hustlers
film Shade (2003, opposite Sylvester Stallone and Melanie Griffith), Vanity Fair
(2004), P.S. (2004), an adaptation of Thornton Wilder's 1927 Pulitzer-prize
winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey (2004, with Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates
and Harvey Keitel) and Assault on Precinct 13 (2005). In the following years, he
will still grace the screen in several upcoming films, including Wah-Wah,
Jindabyne, The Namesake, Leningrad and Played. In 1995, he published his
autobiography, Pictures in My Head. He also has released another books, Myths &
Tales Of Ancient Ireland and The Woman Who Danced With JFK.
As for Byrne’s most recent news, he reportedly co-Produces New York premiere of
“The Blowin' of Baile Gall” by Ronan Noone. It will be starred by Ato Essandoh
(has appeared in the films Garden State and Hitch) and will bow at Irish Arts
Center from early September to late October 2005.
"People who believe that being incredibly famous or wealthy or powerful is going
to make them happier are on a fool's mission. I'm famous enough, that suits me
fine. The relentless emphasis on celebrity in this country drives me around the
fucking bend. Everywhere you go. The new religion is celebrity, but nobody stops
to question what it means when you achieve it. Honestly, I'm scared of the whole
notion of fame. You take it on at your own peril." Gabriel Byrne.
Cinequest San Jose Film Festival: Maverick Tribute Award, 1999
Theatre World Award, 1999
International Fantasy Film Award: Best Actor, Gothic, 1987
Jacob's Awards: Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama, Bracken, 1979