Happy Birthday Gabriel Byrne

On 12 May, City Connect celebrates the birthday of the actor Gabriel Byrne who has starred in over 35 feature films, such as The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing, Stigmata and End of Days. As a film producer his credits include the Academy Award-nominated In the Name of the Father. More recently, Gabriel Byrne has received much critical acclaim for his role as Dr. Paul Weston in the HBO drama In Treatment.

Gabriel Byrne in 2010

Biography

Gabriel Byrne attended University College Dublin, where he studied archaeology and linguistics. 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, Gabriel Byrne had many jobs, including archaeologist, cook, and Spanish and History schoolteacher at Ardscoil Éanna in Crumlin, Dublin. He started acting at age 29, beginning his career on stage with the Focus Theatre and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He later joined the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal National Theatre 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. In 1983, he appeared with Richard Burton in the miniseries Wagner, co-starring Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.

Gabriel Byrne has starred in over 35 feature films and is also a film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator.

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. Gabriel Byrne currently resides in Manhattan, New York City.

Byrne is also actively involved in various charities, in addition to being a human rights activist. In 2004, Gabriel 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, Gabriel 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 February 20, 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”.

Gabriel Byrne won critical acclaim for his role as therapist Dr. Paul Weston in the HBO primetime weeknight series In Treatment. The series is about a 50-something psychologist and his weekly sessions with patients, as well as those with his own therapist at the end of the week. Each episode of In Treatment focuses on one patient, including Paul, who is seeing his clinical supervisor and psychotherapist, Gina, played by Dianne Wiest. The programme debuted on January 28, 2008, as a five-night-a-week series. The programme’s format, script and opening theme are based on, and are often word-for-word translations of, Hagai Levi’s Israeli series BeTipul.

After winning critical acclaim and numerous honours, including Emmy, Golden Globe and Writers Guild awards, In Treatment returned for a second season, premiering on April 5, 2009. The second season built on the success of the first, winning a 2009 Peabody Award. The third season premiered on October 26, 2010, with four episodes per week. On March 30, 2011, HBO said In Treatment would not continue in its existing form but the network was talking with the show’s producers about possibly continuing in a different format.

Gabriel Byrne was named as TV’s “latest Dr. McDreamy” by the New York Times for his role as Dr. Paul Weston in HBO’s In Treatment, and he 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.

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.

Gabriel Byrne has mentioned in interviews and his 1995 autobiography, Pictures In My Head, that he hates being called “brooding”. 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.

Gabriel Byrne 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.

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