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Gabriel James Byrne ( ; born May 12, 1950) is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, writer, and audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he joined London’s Royal Court Theatremarker in 1979. Byrne's screen début came in the Irish soap opera The Riordans and the spin-off show Bracken. The actor has now starred in over 35 feature films, such as The Usual Suspects, Miller's Crossing and Stigmata, in addition to writing two. Byrne's producing credits include the Academy Award-nominated In the Name of the Father. Currently, he is receiving much critical acclaim for his role as Dr. Paul Weston in the HBO drama In Treatment.

Early life

Byrne, the first of six children, was born in Crumlinmarker, Dublinmarker, Irelandmarker, the son of a cooper and soldier, Dan, and a hospital nurse from Galwaymarker, Eileen (née Gannon). His siblings are Donal, Thomas, Breda, Margaret. Another, Marian, died at a young age. Byrne was raised Catholic and educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. With regard to 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 you had a vocation. I have realised subsequently that I didn't have one at all." He attended University College Dublinmarker, where he studied archaeology and linguistics, becoming proficient in Irish. He played football in Dublinmarker with the Stella Maris Football Club in Drumcondra.


Byrne worked in archaeology when he left UCDmarker but maintained his love of his language, 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, bullfighter, and Spanish schoolteacher. He started acting at age 29 and began his career on stage with the Focus Theatre and the Abbey Theatremarker in Dublin. He later joined the Royal Court Theatremarker and the Royal National Theatremarker in London.

Byrne came to prominence on the final season of the Irish television show The Riordans, subsequently starring in his own spin-off series, Bracken. He made his film debut in 1981 as King Uther Pendragon in John Boorman's King Arthur epic, Excalibur.

Byrne currently stars as therapist Dr. Paul Weston in the new, critically acclaimed HBO primetime weeknight series In Treatment. 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.

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

Byrne will next appear in a film adaptation of Flann O'Brien's metafictional novel At Swim-Two-Birds, in which he will be cast alongside Colin Farrell and Cillian Murphy. Actor Brendan Gleeson will be directing the film, which will be released in 2010.

Personal life

Byrne did not set foot in America until he was 37. He now holds both Irish and US citizenship.

In 1988, Byrne married actress Ellen 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.

Byrne currently resides in Brooklynmarker, and is a fan of Chelsea FC.

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 Croi (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, Dublinmarker on February 20, 2007. In November of that same year, he was awarded an honorary degree by the National University of Ireland, Galwaymarker; 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.

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 recently dubbed Byrne as one of the hottest celebrities over the age of 50.


Year Film Role Notes
1978 The Riordans (TV series) Pat Barry
Bracken (TV series) Pat Barry This role won him the Jacob's Award for Best Actor in a Television Series in 1979.
1981 Excalibur Uther Pendragon This was Byrne's breakthrough role in the film industry.
1983 Hanna K. Joshua Herzog
The Keep Major Kaempffer
1984 Reflections William Masters
1985 Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus
1985 Defence of the Realm Nicholas 'Nick' Mullen Byrne was first introduced to an American audience in this film.
1986 Gothic Lord Byron
1987 Lionheart The Black Prince
Julia and Julia Paolo Vinci
Hello Again Dr. Kevin Scanlon
Siesta Augustine Byrne met his future wife, Ellen Barkin, on the set of this movie.
The Courier Val
A Soldier's Tale Saul
1989 Dark Obsession Lord Hugo Bruckton
1990 Miller's Crossing Tom Reagan This film was chosen by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 greatest films ever made.
Shipwrecked Lt. John Merrick
1992 Into the West Papa Reilly Also the associate producer
Cool World Jack Deebs
1993 Point of No Return Bob
A Dangerous Woman Colin Mackey
1994 A Simple Twist of Fate John Newland
Trial by Jury Daniel Graham
Little Women Professor Friedrich Bhaer
Prince of Jutland Fenge
1995 The Usual Suspects Dean Keaton
Buffalo Girls Teddy Blue (TV movie)
Dead Man Charlie Dickinson
Frankie Starlight Jack Kelly
1996 Draiocht Father (TV movie)
Byrne wrote this drama.
Mad Dog Time Ben London
The Last of the High Kings Jack Griffin Also the writer and executive producer
Dr. Hagard's Disease Also the executive producer
The Lark in the Clear Air Executive producer, writer and director
Somebody is Waiting Roger Ellis Also the co-producer
1997 Smilla's Sense of Snow The mechanic
The End of Violence Ray Bering
Weapons of Mass Distraction Lionel Powers (TV movie)
This is the Sea Rohan
1998 Polish Wedding Bolek
The Man in the Iron Mask D'Artagnan
The Brylcreem Boys Sean O'Brien Also the co-producer
Quest for Camelot Sir Lionel (animated) (voice)
Enemy of the State Fake Brill
1999 Stigmata Father Andrew Kiernan
End of Days The Man/Satan
2000 Madigan Men Benjamin 'Ben' Madigan (TV series)
Also the co-executive producer
2002 Virginia's Run Ford Lofton
Spider Bill Cleg
Emmett's Mark Jack Marlow/Stephen Bracken
Ghost Ship Captain Sean Murphy
2003 Shade Charlie Miller
2004 Vanity Fair The Marquess of Steyne
P.S. Peter Harrington
The Bridge of San Luis Rey Brother Juniper
2005 Assault on Precinct 13 Captain Marcus Duvall
Wah-Wah Harry Compton
2006 Played Eddie
Jindabyne Stewart Kane
2007 Leningrad Phillip Parker
Emotional Arithmetic Christopher Lewis
2008 In Treatment Dr. Paul Weston (TV series)
His first Golden Globe Award win and Emmy Award nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series
2009 Butte, America narrator
2009 The Snow Prince (in production) Rumored role
2010 King of the Pipers (in production) Michael


Year Theatre Title Role Notes
2000 Broadwaymarker 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 Broadwaymarker 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 May 7-10, 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.
Satellite Awards Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama Nominated For In Treatment
2009 Golden Globe Awards Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama Won For In Treatment
Primetime Emmy Awards Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nominated For In Treatment


  1. - Gabriel Byrne Biography Retrieved on 2007-November 28.
  2. Gabriel Byrne: Baring his soul on the small screen
  3. The Independent - Gabriel Byrne: Not one of the usual suspects Retrieved on 2007-November 28.
  4. New York Times Article - 'He Listens. He Cares. He Isn't Real.'
  5. Jaafar, Ali. "Parallel eyes Irish projects", Variety, 2 September 2009. Accessed 2 September 2009.
  6. Chelsea F.C. Official Website (requires registration) Retrieved on 2007-November 28.
  7. Ireland On-Line - Honorary degree for Irish star Retrieved on 2007-November 28.
  8. GILFy Pleasures: 33 Hotties Over Age 50 Retrieved on 2007-June 7.

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