The San Sebastian Film Festival is off to a rousing start now in Spain, with one of its “official selection” films getting the new trailer treatment–finally!

Dance First will premiere on September 30 at the festival, so it is only natural for Gabriel Byrne to pop up in an interview about his new project.

And is there an official poster yet? Maybe. Read on!


It’s a lovely interview, as always, with Gabriel talking about things both familiar and new. Read to the end because it is funny! Also, many news outlets picked up an observation he makes about Hollywood being too sunny–and this, too, is funny because it was just such a throw-away line . . .

I am only quoting the first two paragraphs, mostly because the interviewer does such a great job of describing what this film is going to be like, and one other section in which Gabriel notes how happy he was with the script when he first read it, so it is up to you to follow the link to read more from him.

The Guardian/Claire Armitstead
September 22, 2023

‘A lot of biopics depend on likeness – this is braver’: Gabriel Byrne on playing Samuel Beckett

In 1969, Samuel Beckett and his wife learned that he had won the Nobel prize in literature in a telegram from his publisher. “Dear Sam and Suzanne,” it read. “In spite of everything, they have given you the Nobel prize. I advise you to go into hiding.” Both were notoriously celebrity averse. Suzanne described it as a “catastrophe”. Beckett declined to give a Nobel lecture, and refused to talk when a Swedish film crew tracked him down to a hotel room in Tunisia, leaving them with a surreal mute interview.

Into this temporal void, a new psychological biopic has poured a monumental reckoning, in which the 63-year-old playwright scrambles out of the Nobel ceremony to find himself in a rough-hewn underworld. In Dance First, a small masterpiece that premieres next month at the San Sebastian film festival, Beckett confronts the events and the people that shaped him, from his domineering mother to his experience with the French resistance, his brief dalliance with James Joyce’s daughter, Lucia, to his later inability to choose between Suzanne and the radio producer and translator Barbara Bray . . .

Apart from a “thrice broken nose”, which gives him a passing resemblance in profile to beaky Beckett, the genial, award-winning actor looks nothing like the creased and gimlet-eyed seer that the playwright had become by the time of his Nobel win. “I was really happy when I read the script, because it’s not trying to present a cradle-to-grave biography. I didn’t have to do it with wire glasses, and grey hair standing up on end, and lose maybe 30 pounds,” says Byrne. And yet such is the power of the storytelling that within minutes you believe in him entirely.

First promotional still from Dance First
Gabriel Byrne as Samuel Beckett,
contemplating existence from the floor . . .

Poster (Unofficial)

This unofficial (but perhaps official?!) poster popped up at the Penthouse Cinema, New Zealand website as part of their British and Irish Film Festival, which is “coming soon” in October.

It’s true.
Beckett probably does take up space in Gabriel Byrne’s mind. smile


The official trailer is out now, just in time for the film’s premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival. I had no idea most of Dance First was filmed in black and white. I think it looks just beautiful!

Gabriel Byrne as Samuel Beckett in Dance First
— a screenshot from the trailer

So! According to Variety, “Dance First will be released in movie theaters in the U.K. and Ireland in November, on Sky Cinema in those countries in December and on Sky Arts and Freeview next year.” We assume, of course, that other countries will be screening this exciting new film as well!

Stay tuned for more news about Dance First and a report on its September 30th premiere.

And many thanks, as always, to Gabriel Byrne. You are always taking on exciting new projects and keeping us breathless with anticipation!

What a great way to usher in the new Fall Season, yes? Yes! heart

Another lovely portrait of Gabriel Byrne by Linda Nyland for The Guardian

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