It’s time to stop, take a breath, sit down, maybe grab a cold/hot drink, and lose yourself in the world of Byrne! This month’s news brings together interviews, pics, a lovely blast from the past, and lots more. Gabriel Byrne may demur and say he doesn’t have the energy now for action, but he is an absolute tornado of activity, as you will see. Enjoy!
Gabriel Byrne Has Always Been An Action Hero, But Most of the Action Is In Our Hearts
He saved all that action-heavy stuff for his friend Liam “I will find you and I will kill you” Neeson, who reinvigorated the genre with a blend of rugged charm, overt masculinity, volcanic violence, and menace.
Gabriel Byrne usually plays characters who think, plan, and intuit their way through the challenges and obstacles thrown at them. When he plays a bad guy, there’s often a gun in his hand. When he plays a good guy, or a complicated guy we have to figure out, there’s a book, or a pen, or sometimes a glass of scotch. Sometimes a sword. But the kind of violence and masculine superiority usually found in action heroes? No. He’s a thinker and a lover, not a killer. That’s one reason we are standing here, cheering him on.
I will say, however, that Mr. Byrne is running around JUST LIKE an action hero in Season 2 of War of the Worlds–but in this case, he’s an action SCIENTIST.
From Evoke.ie, June 13, 2021: Gabriel Byrne doesn’t ‘have the energy for action’ at 71 years old
‘The idea of running with a gun in my hand, back and forth, didn’t excite me too much, really,’ says Byrne, who is father to a four-year-old daughter. ‘Just because I don’t want to do that. Being up and down stairs all day… and that’s why physical preparation was the hardest thing. When you get a little older, you want to conserve your energy. You don’t want to wear out.’
Filmed in Europe, the second series of War Of The Worlds, which airs on US TV network EPIX, was one of the first TV shows to resume production during the pandemic.
‘We were the first major production to go back, and we were being watched by a lot of production companies to see how it went. We were really lucky to a great extent because we were in a very controlled studio environment. We were tested every single morning – the extras, the costumers, everybody,’ he told South America news service CE Noticias Financieras.
Byrne compares his character in War Of The Worlds, to Dr Anthony Fauci, epidemiologist and director of the US National Institute of Infectious Diseases. ‘Bill is a bit like Dr Fauci, in the sense that he represents science, represents the facts,’ he says. ‘He is trying to solve that crisis through facts, through reality, and not through any kind of conspiracy.’
Read the entire (brief) article for more on Gabriel’s latest film, Death of a Ladies’ Man, and a bit about his new book Walking With Ghosts.
From SBS, “Australia’s most diverse broadcaster”: Walking with ghosts: Gabriel Byrne on home, Leonard Cohen, and shooting Death of a Ladies’ Man
Of the many attributes assigned to the Irish, the one that most clearly fits the distinct charms of The Usual Suspects and War of the Worlds star Gabriel Byrne is that of the lyrical storyteller. While discussing the fantastical elements of his latest movie, Death of a Ladies’ Man, so named after the Leonard Cohen album, our shared Celtic inheritance (I’m Scottish) prompts a mythical interlude. There’s a reason, he says, that the fabled Scottish giants of old didn’t fee-fi-fo-fum over the water and take control of the Emerald Isle.
A young Byrne listened rapt as his teacher relayed the story of seven-foot Fionn mac Cumhaill, the man who saw off the planned invasion single-handedly. “The king sent out a request for the tallest man in Ireland and he said, ‘get him up to the court here’. He introduced him to the sailmaker and said, ‘make him a big diaper, and put him on the beach’.”
Apparently, the sight of this strapping Irishman laid out in a nappy on the sand was enough to avert disaster. “When the Scottish giants got halfway through the water, they looked over on the beach and they said, ‘fuck me, if that’s what the babies look like, can you imagine the adults? Let’s go home’.”
The now 70-year-old’s aside goes to the heart of Byrne’s poetic soul, bared recently in haunting memoir Walking with Ghosts. “I grew up believing that history was mythology, and mythology was history,” he says.
He shot the first series of War of the Worlds before everything fell down last year. When I say I watched it, gripped, during Melbourne lockdown, where cold, empty streets fell silent after 8pm, he recalls a conversation about what the show means. “I remember saying it’s metaphorical. It could be anything, and I remember specifically saying, ‘it could be a pandemic’. And that’s why I think the series has found such resonance . . .”
He can’t quite believe his luck. “I started off 45 years ago and I didn’t think I’d last a month,” he laughs. “I’m just gonna keep going until two security guys come into the room and throw me out. And I’d say, ‘You know what, I had a good few drinks. I talked to a few nice people, and I’m happy to go on my way’.”
Most of you can watch Season 2 of War of the Worlds now. As soon as Death of a Ladies’ Man is available in the US and elsewhere, I will let you know!
A Blast from the Past: Jessalyn Gilsig talks Vikings
BriefTake Interview: Big Shot’s Jessalyn Gilsig, from Charles Trapunski / June 17, 2021
Fresh episodes of the Disney+ series Big Shot have become something of a constant companion during the past few months as we excitedly open our account each Friday morning for the David E. Kelley, Dean Lorey and Brad Garrett created series. While this week’s upcoming episode is the finale for the season, this was an exciting interview as we chatted with series co-lead Jessalyn Gilsig, who happily guided us through this season.
BriefTake: What was one of your best experiences on a set?
Jessalyn Gilsig: After Glee was over, I had a fantasy that I wanted to work on a cable show that was kind of challenging and had an ensemble. I was a really big fan of shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, that sort of thing. And I found myself on Vikings and I was cast to play Gabriel Byrne‘s wife. In the first few episodes of Vikings, I don’t really have any lines. I have very few lines. I made the decision that I really wanted to work on my camera work and on listening, because everyone tells you about acting that it’s listening, it’s listening, it’s being confident listening, it’s being comfortable listening and that kind of thing. Suddenly, I was in this place in which my entire job was to listen, and Gabriel Byrne, even though I didn’t have any…I had been cast as this woman who had so little to say, immediately embraced me and created a dynamic between us and designed a relationship and a marriage that our characters had and he included me in everything. He said to me at one point: “My character doesn’t do anything without checking with you”. When you watch the show, before he speaks, he would look at me, which would immediately pull me into the scene. I learned so much from Gabriel about being present and really distributing the story throughout the characters that are in the space and understanding why everybody is there. I’ve never really had anybody do that as deliberately and as effectively. That really kind of transformed my relationship to my work and I think made me more relaxed.
John Banville brings us the next Quirke book
John Banville has taken over for Benjamin Black and is now writing the Quirke novels. Due in October 2021, Quirke’s next adventure is entitled April in Spain. Observant readers will know immediately that something is up!
Booker Prize winner John Banville returns with a dark and evocative new mystery set on the Spanish coast
Don’t disturb the dead…
On the idyllic coast of San Sebastian, Spain, Dublin pathologist Quirke is struggling to relax, despite the beaches, cafés and the company of his disarmingly lovely wife. When he glimpses a familiar face in the twilight at Las Acadas bar, it’s hard at first to tell whether his imagination is just running away with him.
Because this young woman can’t be April Latimer. She was murdered by her brother, years ago—the conclusion to an unspeakable scandal that shook one of Ireland’s foremost political dynasties. . .
Oh, how we wish Gabriel Byrne would play Quirke again! Still, at least we have this unique character back on the page, and that is something very special indeed!
He resisted writing about typical Irish tropes for so long. Now, John Banville is embracing his roots, an article in the Spring Literary Review issue of America: The Jesuit Review, by Tom Deignan. It is very informative and includes this:
In a fitting twist, John Banville recently announced that the nom de plume Benjamin Black is being retired, though the mysteries will keep on coming. (Except in Spain, where this open literary secret will persist. Which, again, sounds like some perplexing interrogation of identity out of a Banville novel.)
Either way, for the last 15 years, Black has offered up a version of Irish history that—for whatever reason—Banville never did. That there are cops and corpses and kidnappings in the Black universe does not make the questions they pose any less important or interesting.
Someone needs to convince Mr. Byrne to play Quirke one more time. Please? heart
Jon Berkeley, whose Twitter profiles notes “I make illustrations that will knock your socks off, for The Economist, New Statesman, Volkskrant, l’Express & more • I write books too,” observes the birthdays of celebrities by sharing his caricatures of them on Twitter and Instagram. Here is his birthday tribute to Gabriel Byrne, whose birthday was May 12:
How cool is this? Thanks, Jon, for this lovely tribute to our favorite Irishman!
All That Glitters: Style as Substance in John Boorman’s ‘Excalibur’
Oh. Here is Gabriel Byrne: Action Hero. Action Anti-hero? Well, he has a sword, that’s certain. And I can’t help it. I love the beginning of this article so much. So, here it is, brought to us by writer Meg Shields at Film School Rejects, one way we can honor the 40th anniversary of this epic film, Gabriel Byrne’s first:
When Excalibur (1981) begins, Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) lies dying in the mud. The magician Merlin warned him that granting his wish would have consequences; that one night with Igrayne, the wife of his newly-won ally, would come at a price. As promised, Merlin arrives to collect Igrayne and Uther’s child: an infant of infinite promise, a future king who will succeed where his petulant father failed. With Igrayne’s shrieks ringing in his ears, Uther follows Merlin into the woods, begging for his son and blind to the ambush lying in wait.
Torn off his horse, Uther lands face-first in a polluted creek; the legendary preface of Arthurian legend dragged quite literally into the mud. The imposing spikes of Uther’s armor lock him firmly into the earth. Blood pools from the crease in his shoulder plate, flowing freely like a crimson tributary into the muck. It is a beautiful and brutal image: a deep red plume streaming out from a once-glimmering suit of armor. The whole scene is bathed in an emerald glow, an otherworldly colored gel that casts this upsetting moment firmly into the realm of myth.
This contrast — of fantasy and ferocity — is the beating heart of Excalibur. It’s a tension that not only defines the film’s production design but the narrative journey of Arthur himself: a feature-length give and take between a gilded legendary past and the harsh realities of the very history it mythologizes.
The pandemic seems to be in hiatus, with Delta Variant looming over the USA and much of the rest of the world, although many of us are now vaccinated and seemingly protected from this new threat. It is likely that “Masks Up!” will still be the rule of the day in most places for a long time. Still, it’s a relief to get out and about, isn’t it?
Gabriel visited New York City and his neighborhood in NoLita, specifically Mott Street, where this snap was taken, back in April, just before heading out to Montana to shoot Murder at Emigrant Gulch. We haven’t seen a candid of him in a long time, so this is nice.
Many thanks to Facebook Administrator Violetta for finding this Instagram pic!
We mourn the passing of photographer and activist Jeff Riedel, who died this past November after a long illness. He was only 52. His was a varied career, his photographs ranging from deeply political and socially conscious works to popular culture and media shots for advertising and film. His images of Gabriel Byrne can be found in the Byrneholics Gallery, where we have long enjoyed his “take” on Mr. Byrne. A professional obituary is available at the World Socialist Web Site and you can still view Mr. Riedel’s online gallery, but do so soon. It may not be there forever [And now, as of August 17, 2021 it is gone. Sorry] . . .
RIP, Jeff Riedel.
The Keep and Keith Haring
Another of those “art and life” collisions that I like so much!
You remember Uncle Bob, yes?
I found the PERFECT t-shirt for him. Or you. Or me!
Walking With Ghosts in the summertime
LitHub Bookmarks shared their “Most Viewed Books of the Week” on June 13. It was exciting to see Gabriel’s book at #4, with that big arrow going UP, in the list. People are loving his book. Make sure you put it on your Summer Reading List if you haven’t read it already!
You made it to the end of another Byrne-ing News! Good for you! And thank you!
These two wallpapers are for your desktops and maybe your phones, if you can be creative and resize these big images.
Until the next News, I will let Gabriel say adieu, with thanks to Josh for this fun GIF of Gabriel in Secret State.