His play is done for the time being, but Gabriel Byrne still has a story–or in this case, a joke–to tell!

A new interview at The New York Times gives us a glimpse of how he feels about closing Walking With Ghosts on Broadway a bit earlier than originally planned, what developing the play entailed, and some of his hopes for the audience reception of his first foray into writing a play. He also hints that the reports of the play’s demise may be premature; or, he isn’t done yet and neither is Walking With Ghosts!

And that’s the best gift we’ll get this season: More Gabriel Byrne!

But first: the joke. It’s a terrible joke. I laughed out loud, though, so maybe it’s not so terrible after all. wink

Gabriel Tells a Joke

Click the image to get to the video, which cannot be embedded here, darn it!

The interview is behind a pay wall and is available to subscribers; you may have free access to some articles, so copy this link and put it in your web browser and see what happens: https://www.nytimes.com/video/t-magazine/100000008660132/tell-t-a-joke-gabriel-byrne.html

I am confused about how links at The New York Times work now, so I checked their Help page and actually did not find the answer to my question. Still, it might help you. Good luck!

Interview Excerpt

I’ve excerpted a rather large hunk of the interview, in case you need it, but don’t tell anyone, okay? Here you go. Gabriel is talking about what he wanted the play to achieve:

. . . Instead, he said, he wanted to emphasize experiences people could relate to, themes that felt universal — for instance, that of searching for a sense of rootedness as an immigrant living away from his homeland (he moved to New York in the mid-1980s to be with his then partner, the actor Ellen Barkin; they divorced in 1999 but he remained in the States). “Every immigrant has a yearning to be at home,” he said. “But you can never be at home anywhere once you leave. You trade one place for another, but you don’t really belong in either.”

Of course, he said, dredging up his memories of abuse or recounting the death of a boyhood friend every night is hardly enjoyable. But it is a willingness to explore those uncomfortable places, he said, that gives the show its power. “By going there, you’re opening the door for somebody else in the audience to maybe go there, too,” he explained.

That is not to say there weren’t lighthearted moments. Among the dozens of characters from his past that Byrne embodies are friends, teachers, religious figures, family members and even the various actors in the amateur theater troupe he joined (Soloski wrote that the show “allows him to show a playful side and a gift, neglected in Hollywood, for physical comedy”). “You can’t just get up there and start telling serious stories,” Byrne said. “You have to leaven it with a spoonful of sugar.”

Though he is finished with “Walking With Ghosts” — for now — he suggested that a return to the blue blazer and black boots may not be far off. He’s had offers to do the show in other cities — he has his eye on Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, he said — and international plans are in the works. “The producers want it to go to Australia and Canada,” said Byrne, who lives in Rockport, Maine, with his wife, Hannah Beth King, a documentary filmmaker, and their young daughter. (He has two adult children with Barkin.) “We’ll see. I don’t think Sunday night is the end of it.”

In the meantime, he’s working on a new book, his first novel, which will explore themes of immigration and exile. He’s also looking forward to catching up on the movies he hasn’t had time to see and popping in and out of Broadway theaters — now as an audience member. (On his list: The recent revival of “Death of a Salesman.”) “I’ve been living in the world of books and the streets of New York, which is a continuous novel,” he said. “You never stop turning the pages.”

So, what are you doing for the holidays? Gabriel wants to know! heart


  1. Thank you very much for sharing Stella.
    I am so glad that he is working on a novel and that he shares so much of his talent to the world.
    I hope he is not very tired now.
    He looks thinner, but has a lot of charm and wisdom to spare. As usual.

    • Happy Holidays to you, Nora from Norway!

      I think Gabriel is a vegetarian now (mostly), so that’s probably why he looks thinner. Also, running around on stage every night is very aerobic! ;-)

      I can’t wait to see his novel. So exciting! So much energy he has. Amazing.

      A wish for merry and bright holidays to you from Stella in Texas. <3

  2. michelle


  3. Corazón de Irlanda

    I have a BYRNE-ing desire for him to come to Michigan State and play the Pasant Theatre. (It’s a cozy little thrust stage theatre…if you can call 585 seats cozy!)

  4. Kathleen E.

    Kathy from Nebraska, hubby and I are celebrating our 50th Christmas this yr.
    Have enjoyed the many photos on here of Mr. Byrne and family.
    Was long distance viewer of his play Walking with Ghosts last year, and reading it.
    ( I have passed it on to a friend.)
    Love learning about Ireland, and my heritage. Callaway is a grandmother’s maiden name.

  5. Kathy in Nebraska

    Loved his very funny joke! So… there’s more where that came from, I assume. ? ;)

    • Kathleen in Nebraska

      P.S. just watched the beautiful story of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse on apple tv.. it is wonderful… don’t miss it! ( I would not have known that Gabriel’s voice was the horse had I not read the reviews in here.) Thanks for posting those reviews.

      • I loved The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse so much! It was brilliant. Watching them all walk and talk and run together was so much fun! And the backgrounds were astonishingly beautiful. And the music! Well, I could go on . . . Certainly brightened up the holidays for me and apparently much of the UK–it was the most watched Christmas Eve show the BBC has ever aired! <3

    • I’m glad you are visiting here, Kathleen. And I’m glad you were able to enjoy his play when it streamed last year. Quite an experience, wasn’t it?! And, if you recall the book, he may still have the “Book of 1,000 Jokes,” so there probably is MORE where that came from. LOL! ;-)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.