Gabriel Byrne

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Gabriel Byrne
Gabriel Byrne 2010.jpg
Gabriel Byrne in 2010
Gabriel James Byrne

(1950-05-12) 12 May 1950 (age 72)
Dublin, Ireland
OccupationActor, film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1978–present
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
(m. 1988; div. 1999)
Hannah Beth King
(m. 2014)

Gabriel James Byrne (born 12 May 1950)[1] is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, screenwriter, audiobook narrator, and author. 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 drama serial The Riordans and the spin-off show Bracken.

He has starred in more than 70 films for some of cinema's best known directors. For his Broadway work, he has received two Tony nominations for roles in the work of Eugene O'Neill as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award for A Touch of the Poet. For his television work, Byrne has been nominated for three Emmys. For his performance in HBO's American drama In Treatment (2008–2010) in the role of Paul Weston, one of his most identifiable roles, he won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmy Awards and two Satellite Awards.

He has starred in many films, including: Excalibur (1981), Miller's Crossing (1990), The Usual Suspects (1995), Stigmata (1999), End of Days (1999), Spider (2002), Jindabyne (2006), Vampire Academy (2014), The 33 (2015), and Hereditary (2018), and co-wrote The Last of the High Kings (1996). Byrne has also produced several films, including the Academy Award–nominated In the Name of the Father (1993). Since 2019, he has starred in a TV series adaptation of War of the Worlds.

In 2018, Byrne was awarded the Irish Film and Television Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Irish cinema. In 2020, he was listed at number 17 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.[2] The Guardian named him one of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.[3]

Early life[edit]

Gabriel James Byrne was born on 12 May 1950 in Walkinstown, Dublin, Ireland, the son of devoutly Roman Catholic parents. His father Dan was a soldier and cooper, while his mother Eileen (née Gannon), from Elphin, County Roscommon,[4] was a hospital nurse. He has five younger siblings: Donal, Thomas, Breda, Margaret, and a sister who died at an early age, Marian.[5]

Byrne attended Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin, where he later taught Spanish and history.[6] 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."[7] He attended University College Dublin, where he studied archaeology and linguistics,[8] becoming proficient in Irish.

He played football in Dublin with Stella Maris.[9]

In January 2011, he spoke in an interview on The Meaning of Life about being sexually abused by priests during his childhood.[10][11]


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.[12]

Before becoming an actor, Byrne had many jobs, including archaeologist, cook, and Spanish and history school teacher at Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin. He started acting at age 29,[8] and began his career on stage with the Focus Theatre and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He later joined the Performing Arts Course at Roslyn Park College in Sandymount. He came to prominence on the final season of the Irish television show The Riordans,[8] subsequently starring in his own spin-off series, Bracken. His first play for television was Michael Feeney Callan's Love Is ... (RTÉ). He made his film debut in 1981, as King Uther Pendragon in John Boorman's King Arthur epic, Excalibur.[8]

In 1983, he appeared with Richard Burton in the miniseries Wagner, co-starring Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.[13] In 1985, he 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'."[14] In the 90s, his production company Plurabelle Films received a first look deal with Phoenix Pictures.[15]

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

In 2007, he led the jury of the Kerry Film Festival.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

Byrne starred as therapist Paul Weston in the HBO series In Treatment from 2008 to 2010. He was named as TV's "latest Dr. McDreamy" by The New York Times[19] 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 that same year.[citation needed]

In 2011, he signed up to appear in a film by director Costa-Gavras, Le Capital,[20] an adaptation of Stéphane Osmont's novel of the same name. In 2013, he starred as Earl Haraldson in the first season of Vikings opposite Travis Fimmel and Clive Standen.[citation needed]

In 2017, he appeared in Mad to Be Normal (previously titled Metanoia), a biopic of the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing, produced by Gizmo Films.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Byrne had a 12-year relationship with television producer and presenter Aine O'Connor, from 1974 to 1986.[22]

He began a relationship with actress Ellen Barkin, and relocated to Manhattan to be with her. A year later, in 1988, he 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 divorced in 1999.[23]

At the fifth 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 received the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society, of Trinity College Dublin on 20 February 2007. In November 2007, he was awarded an honorary degree by the National University of Ireland, Galway; the president of the university, Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, said that the award was in recognition of the actor's "outstanding contribution to Irish and international film".[24]

Although Byrne 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 United States in September 2009 at the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival.[25]

Byrne mentioned in interviews and his 1994 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]

He married his partner, Hannah Beth King, on 4 August 2014 at Ballymaloe House in County Cork.[27] Their daughter, Maisie James, was born in February 2017.[citation needed] As of 2021, Byrne lives with his family in Rockport, Maine.[28]

Byrne is an atheist, and has been vocally critical of the Catholic Church, which he described in a 2011 interview with The Guardian as "repressive of women and minorities and repressive of its followers." However, in the same interview, he said that he still reads the Bible "for the fables".[29]

He was cultural ambassador for Ireland until he criticised The Gathering, a tourism initiative to encourage tourists of Irish heritage to visit the country, describing it as "a scam" and adding that the majority of Irish people "don't give a shit about the diaspora except to shake them down for a few quid."[30] 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."[31]



Year Title Role Notes
1978 On a Paving Stone Mounted[32] Unknown
1981 Love Is ... Larry
1981 Excalibur Uther Pendragon
1983 Hanna K. Joshua Herzog
1983 The Keep Sturmbannfuhrer Erich Kaempffer
1984 Reflections William Masters
1985 Defence of the Realm 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
1988 The Courier Val
1989 A Soldier's Tale Saul
1989 Diamond Skulls Lord Hugo Bruckton
1990 Miller's Crossing Tom Reagan
1990 Shipwrecked Lieutenant John Merrick
1992 Into the West Papa Reilly Also associate producer
1992 Cool World Jack Deebs
1993 Point of No Return (also known as The Assassin) Bob
1993 A Dangerous Woman Colin Mackey
1993 In the Name of the Father Unknown Executive producer
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 / Keyser Söze (flashback) National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
1995 Dead Man Charlie Dickinson
1995 Frankie Starlight Jack Kelly
1996 Mad Dog Time Ben London
1996 The Last of the High Kings Jack Griffin Also writer and executive producer
1996 Somebody Is Waiting Roger Ellis Also executive producer
1996 Dr. Hagard's Disease Unknown Unreleased; also executive producer
1997 Smilla's Sense of Snow The Mechanic
1997 The End of Violence Ray Bering
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 co-producer
1998 Quest for Camelot Sir Lionel Voice
1998 Enemy of the State NSA Agent Fake Brill
1999 Stigmata Father Andrew Kiernan Nominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor – Horror
Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1999 End of Days The Man / Satan Nominated—Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor
2000 Canone inverso The Violinist ('Jeno Varga')
2000 Mad About Mambo Unknown Also executive producer
2002 Virginia's Run Ford Lofton
2002 Spider Bill Cleg
2002 Emmett's Mark Jack Marlow / Stephen Bracken
2002 Horses: The Story of Equus Narrator (voice)
2002 Ghost Ship Captain Sean Murphy
2003 Shade Charlie Miller
2003 Flight from Death Narrator (voice)
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 Nominated—Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
2007 Emotional Arithmetic Christopher Lewis
2008 2:22 Detective Swain Uncredited
2009 Butte, America Narrator Voice
2009 Perrier's Bounty The Reaper Voice
2009 Leningrad Phillip Parker
2012 Le Capital Dittmar Rigule
2012 I, Anna Detective Bernie Reid
2013 Just a Sigh (Le Temps de l'aventure) Doug
2013 All Things to All Men Joseph Corsco
2014 Vampire Academy Victor Dashkov
2015 The 33 André Sougarret
2015 Louder Than Bombs Gene Reed
2015 Nobody Wants the Night Bram Trevor
2016 Carrie Pilby Mr. Daniel Pilby
2016 No Pay, Nudity Lawrence Rose
2017 Mad to Be Normal Jim
2017 Lies We Tell Donald
2018 In the Cloud Doc Wolff
2018 An L.A. Minute Ted Gold
2018 Hereditary Steve Graham Also executive producer
2018 Atlantic Salmon: Lost at Sea Narrator (voice)
2020 Lost Girls Richard Dormer
2020 Death of a Ladies' Man Samuel O'Shea
2022 Murder at Yellowstone City Sheriff James Ambrose
TBA Lamborghini Enzo Ferrari Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1978–1979 The Riordans Pat Barry Drama series
1980–1982 Bracken Pat Barry Drama series
1981 Strangers Johnny Maguire Episode: "The Flowers of Edinburgh"
1981 The Search for Alexander the Great Ptolemy 4 episodes
1982 Joyce in June Keogh / Blazes Boylan Television film
1983 Wagner Karl Ritter 3 episodes
1985 Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus 4 episodes
1985 Mussolini: The Untold Story Vittorio Mussolini 6 episodes
1993 Intimate Portrait Narrator (voice) Episode: "Kim Cattrall"
1994 Screen Two The Good Thief Episode: "All Things Bright and Beautiful"
1995 Buffalo Girls Teddy Blue Television film
1995 Saturday Night Live Himself / Various Characters Episode: "Gabriel Byrne/Alanis Morissette"
1996 Draíocht Father Television film
1997 Glenroe Pat Barry Episode: "Miley's New Bullock"
1997 Weapons of Mass Distraction Lionel Powers Television film
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
2000 Madigan Men Ben Madigan 12 episodes; also co-executive producer
2008–2010 In Treatment Dr. Paul Weston 106 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2008–09)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama (2008–09)
2012 Secret State Tom Dawkins 4 episodes
2013 Vikings Earl Haraldson 6 episodes
2014 Quirke Quirke 3 episodes
2016 Marco Polo Pope Gregory X Episode: "Let God's Work Begin"
2018 Maniac Porter Milgrim 5 episodes
2019–2022 The War of the Worlds Bill Ward 24 episodes
2020 ZeroZeroZero Edward Lynwood 2 episodes


Year Title Role Theatre Notes
2000 A Moon for the Misbegotten James 'Jim' Tyrone, Jr. Walter Kerr Theatre (Broadway) 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
2002 The Exonerated Kerry Max Cook Bleecker Street Theatre (Off-Broadway) Replacement[33]
2005 A Touch of the Poet Cornelius Melody Studio 54 (Broadway) Winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play
2008 Camelot King Arthur Avery Fisher Hall Performance for the New York Philharmonic's annual musical event from 7–10 May 2008
2016 Long Day's Journey into Night James Tyrone American Airlines Theatre (Broadway) Nominated for a Tony Award (Best Actor in a Play)

Awards and nominations[edit]

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
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
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 International Film Festival Gregory Peck Excellence in the Art of Film Award Awarded 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
2009 Primetime Emmy Awards Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated
2016 Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play Nominated For Long Day's Journey into Night
2018 Irish Film and Television Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Awarded For his contribution to cinema
2021 Best Actor in a Leading Role - Film Won For Death of a Ladies' Man


In 2007, NUI Galway awarded him an honorary doctorate for his outstanding contribution to Irish and international film, theatre and the arts.[citation needed]


  • Pictures in My Head. Dublin: Wolfhound Press Ltd. 1994. ISBN 978-0-86327-462-6.
  • Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir. New York: Grove Press. 2021. ISBN 978-0-8021-5712-6.

In his book 'Walking With Ghosts' Gabriel claims that Margaret Thatcher abolished school milk. But the matter is politically controversial, as Conservatives claim the process was started by the previous P.M., Harold Wilson from Labour.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Byrne, Gabriel 1950–". Cengage. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  2. ^ Clarke, Donald; Brady, Tara. "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  3. ^ Singer, Leigh (19 February 2009). "Oscars: the best actors never to have been nominated". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  4. ^ "Holiday Homes, Elphin, Co. Roscommon – Rent Self Catering Accommodation in Ireland". Archived from the original on 12 August 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  5. ^ Mottram, James (18 May 2007). "Gabriel Byrne: Not one of the usual suspects". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2017. I'm what they call a recovering Catholic.
  6. ^ "Old boy Gabriel's starring role in city school reunion".
  7. ^ "Coming out as atheist: Noel Gallagher & Gabriel Byrne". National Secular Society. 13 April 2007. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Stated on Inside the Actors Studio (2000).
  9. ^ Wright, Alice (2 August 2013). "One Direction's Louis Tomlinson signs for Doncaster plus 10 other sporting celebs". Metro. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Gabriel Byrne: I was abused as a child". London: 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 23 January 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  11. ^ McDonald, Henry (19 January 2010). "Gabriel Byrne tells of childhood sexual abuse". London: Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  12. ^ "Gabriel Byrne". IMDb. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  13. ^ "A flame of love never quenched". The Irish Times. 8 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  14. ^ "Obituary: Denholm Elliott". The Independent. 7 October 1992.
  15. ^ Cox, Benedict Carver,Dan; Carver, Benedict; Cox, Dan (6 October 1998). "Byrne renews 1st-look film deal with Phoenix". Variety. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  16. ^ Gabriel Byrne Tops Kerry Film Fest Jury Lineup
  17. ^ Jaafar, Ali (2 September 2009). "Parallel eyes Irish projects". Variety. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  18. ^ Ryan, Conor (15 October 2009). "Gleeson: Film plans will collapse if Bord Snip implemented". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  19. ^ La Ferla, Ruth (28 February 2008). "New York Times Article – 'He Listens. He Cares. He Isn't Real.'". Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  20. ^ "Gabriel Byrne Enters 'Le Capital', Irish Actor in Talks To Star". IFTN. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  21. ^ "Current Features – Mad to be Normal". Gizmo Films. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  22. ^ "Hollywood Celebrities".
  23. ^ Polsky, Sara (30 April 2010). "Actor Gabriel Byrne Buys in Nolita's 211 Elizabeth". Curbed.
  24. ^ "Honorary degree for Irish star". 27 November 2007. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  25. ^ Kay, Jeremy. "Cherrybomb among five US premieres at LA Irish Film Festival". Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  26. ^ D'Angelo, Beverly. "GILFy Pleasures: 33 Hotties Over Age 50". Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  27. ^ English, Eoin (7 August 2014). "Gabriel Byrne's secret wedding finalised over coffee and scones in popular Cork restaurant". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  28. ^ Lyall, Sarah (7 January 2021). "This Time, He Stars In His Own Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 February 2021.
  29. ^ "'In Treatment' star Gabriel Bryne says he is 'extremely anti-Catholic". 27 April 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  30. ^ "Gabriel Byrne: Religion didn't do me any good". Irish Independent. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ "On a Paving Stone Mounted (1978)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
  33. ^ The Exonerated at the Bleecker Street Theatre, Lortel Archives

Further reading[edit]

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