Byrne was the first of six children, born in Dublin, Ireland. His father was a cooper and his mother a hospital worker. He was raised Catholic and educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. He spent five years of his childhood in a seminary training to be a Catholic priest. He later said, "I spent five years in the seminary and I suppose it was assumed that you had a vocation. I have realized subsequently that I didn't have one at all. I don't believe in God. But I did believe at the time in this notion that you were being called." He attended University College Dublin, where he studied archeology and linguistics, and became proficient in Irish. He played football (soccer) in Dublin with the Stella Maris Football Club.
Byrne worked in archeology after he left UCD but maintained his love of his language, writing Draíocht (Magic), the first drama in Irish on Ireland's national Irish television station, TG4, in 1996.
He discovered his acting ability as a young adult. Before that he worked at several occupations which included being an archaeologist, a cook, a bullfighter, and a Spanish schoolteacher. He begin acting when he was 29. He began on stage at the Focus Theatre and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, later he 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, later starring in the spin-off series, Bracken. He made his film début in 1981 as Lord Uther Pendragon in John Boorman's King Arthur epic, Excalibur.
Byrne is featured as therapist Dr. Paul Weston in the critically acclaimed HBO series In Treatment (2008).
In his return to theater in 2008, he appeared as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe's Camelot with the New York Philharmonic which was featured in a PBS broadcast in the Live From Lincoln Center series in May of 2008.
Byrne did not visit America until he was 37. In 1988, Byrne married actress Ellen Barkin with whom he has two children. The couple separated amicably in 1993 and divorced in 1999. Byrne resides in Brooklyn, New York.
In November 2004, Byrne was appointed a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador.
In 2007 Byrne was presented with the first of the newly created Volta awards at the 5th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. This was for lifetime achievement in acting. He also received the Honorary Patronage of the University Philosophical Society, of Trinity College, Dublin on February 20, 2007. He was awarded an honorary degree in late 2007 by the National University of Ireland, Galway, in recognition of Byrne's "outstanding contribution to Irish and international film".
|Ellen Barkin||(18 September 1988 - 26 May 1999) (divorced) 2 children|
Has a son, Jack Daniel, born 1989; and a daughter, Romy Marion, born 1992.
Started acting at the age of 29 and he went to America for the first time when he was 37.
Before becoming an actor, he was an archaelogist, a schoolteacher, a short-order cook, and a bullfighter.
In a November 1999 interview with the New York Post, he claimed to have been molested by his Latin teacher while at an English seminary preparing for priesthood.
Educated by the Christian Brothers in Dublin.
Autobiography titled "Pictures in My Head"
Was nominated for Broadway's 2000 Tony Award as Best Actor (Play) for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten."
Although he separated from Ellen Barkin in 1993, he did not file for divorce until May 1999.
Has appeared in 3 roles romantically opposite Laura Linney, "A Simple Twist of Fate," "P.S." and "Jindabyne.".
Older brother of Donal, Thomas, Breda, Margaret and Marian (deceased).
Son of Dan Byrne and Eileen Gannon.
He has Irish citizenship and resident alien status in the United States.
He's a patron of The West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation, Croi, since 1997.
He was a football played with the Stella Maris Football Club in Drumcondra, Dublin.
Speaks English and Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic).
Learned to speak Gaelic in college and still speaks it fluently.
Didn't start acting until he was twenty-nine years old.
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".
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.
I've always felt that acting is about exposure. You expose yourself in the choices you make. It's when you present yourself as truthfully as you can, in a given situation, that you are being that character. Even though you're being yourself.
Sometimes, the vanity of actors is that we imagine we're so completely different on screen from who we are in real life. When really, all actors play themselves.
American movies to me - and, I mean, I've said this before a million times - are becoming more and more homogeneous because the marketing objective - and marketing now plays such a major role in movies that it almost obliterates everything else - the marketing objective is the lowest common denominator. "You can't put that in; let's put the car chase, let's put the sex scene, let's put the fight in, let's get them back together, they end up happily, they walk off into the sun..." So that there's a formulaic predictability to American movies. That, allied with the cynicism of the way movies are put together - product placement and spin-offs and toys and all kinds of crap that, you know, have nothing to do with the telling of stories - they've turned American movies into McMovies. So that when the movie-goer gets his movie, it's like a hamburger: he doesn't want a piece of aubergine in there; he wants his onion, his tomato, his hamburger and his bun. And he doesn't want the bun hard, he wants it soft. And he wants it in two minutes.
I think the reason certain societies thrive while others don't is the society that is open to new ideas is going to thrive, while the ones that don't, that oppose any outside or opposing cultural influences, those are in trouble, and I think America has done the latter over the past 20 or more years. The worse it is for America, the worse it is for the rest of us.
[on working with Natasha Richardson on Gothic (1986)] It was a privilege for me to work with her in her first film. Her magnetism was incontestable, both as a person and as an actress. When you're working with somebody you see them in a very different light. I just knew she was special.
I did a play by Eugene O'Neill called "A Touch of the Poet" on Broadway a few years ago. I remember looking out into the audience at one point, and the theater was packed with wealthy, white-haired people. After the curtain call I turned to one of the other actors and said 'Theater is dead.' He laughed and said "That's a good one." I said 'No, seriously, theater as we're doing it now is dead. There's no audience. There's no one under 60 out there. They're all white. And they can all afford $300 for a night.
It's the job of the director to be like a great orchestra leader, and bring out the music that the writer wrote, through the instruments, which are the actors.
A lot of people who live in America, and it's not their fault, have a stereotypical view of Ireland. You get a movie like The Quiet Man (1952) and people arrive at Shannon airport and expect to be met by Barry Fitzgerald.
[on dealing with depression] - A single negative thought begins in your head. That single negative thought interacts with another negative thought and becomes a reality. And the world seems like the darkest, bleakest, blackest place that you can possibly be. And it has nothing to do with logic, it has nothing to do with reality. It's a chemical, and I suppose ultimately becomes a spiritual, imbalance in the body and in the mind. But it feels like the truth. That's what's so insidious about it.
[on being beaten in school, specifically in math class] - I feared being beaten, and I was beaten very regularly. It did affect my sense of myself. ... I didn't feel that I suffered at the time. I just felt it was the way of the world. It took many years to come to terms with and to forgive those incidents that I felt had deeply hurt me.
Unfortunately, I experienced some sexual abuse. It was a known and admitted fact of life amongst us that there was this particular man, and you didn't want to be left in the dressing room with him. There were certain boundaries, sexual boundaries, that were crossed.
|You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.|
|With our Resume service you can add photos and build a complete resume to help you achieve the best possible presentation on the IMDb.|
Click here to add your resume and/or your photos to IMDb.