Interviews, 2009 and Earlier

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Excerpts and links to text and video interviews available online, including podcasts

After winning the Golden Globe for In Treatment, Season One, Gabriel’s work in the show was the topic of the year 2009!

In Treatment at The Guardian

Is Gabriel Byrne a suitable case for treatment? by Amy Raphael for The Guardian, October 16, 2009

You’re confined to a chair or sofa, you rely on your hands to show empathy. Was that your idea?

Absolutely. You have to communicate silently with your hands. I’ve always been fascinated by the way people use their hands. Obama has long, slender hands. He’ll be talking about a serious issue and his hands will fall into this composed configuration. Then he’ll gesticulate with one hand. You can become mesmerised watching him. Bill Clinton uses his hands beautifully, too.

My editor wanted me to play a word-association game related back to your role as Dr Weston …

You know what? I don’t even believe in that game. I don’t think it reveals anything. You say “blue” and I say “green”. A professional may then suggest I said “green” because I’m Irish. I don’t honestly know if it would reveal anything. Tell your editor I was a total queen and refused to do it (laughs).

OK … let’s talk about God ...

Gabriel Byrne: Talk To Me by Alex Simon for Venice Magazine, April 2009

I was thinking while watching In Treatment that it must be an interesting exercise for an actor to play a therapist since, as an actor, you have to be both a good listener and introspective.
Gabriel Byrne: That’s true. I think one of the challenges in the role for me is trying to find ways to deal with the different energies of the different characters that I work with. For example, it’s very difficult to let the audience know what you’re thinking, but not let the “patient” know what you’re thinking. You have to be constantly aware of that delicate balance between being a therapist and an actor. A lot of therapists have to act in a way, as do we all, in whatever job we do, we have to adopt a certain persona, even someone who checks you into a hotel. I’d say this is the most difficult role I’ve ever played since I did A Touch of the Poet and A Moon for the Misbegotten. It requires the same kind of stamina. It’s a very complex role, and is really much more a theater actor’s piece than it is a film. Essentially, it’s a one hour play every night.

Podcast: NPR/Fresh Air with Terry Gross

Gabriel Byrne and The Art of Listening by Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air, April 30, 2009

A complete transcript of this interview is also available.

Actor Gabriel Byrne is so convincing and sympathetic in his role as a psychoanalyst on the HBO series In Treatment that people have started telling him their problems.

Barry Egan / Belfast Telegraph

Note from Stella: Barry Egan has a way of getting Gabriel Byrne to talk about the most unexpected things!

On the couch with Gabriel, by Barry Egan for the Belfast Telegraph, April 10, 2009
In Treatment star Gabriel Byrne has never had the happy gene, but neither does he go around crippled by his depression. He talks to Barry Egan about life, love — and his big fan Madonna

As with everything with Gabriel, even his hair comes with a story. In 2003 I spent the week with him in New York. One night, we were having dinner in Manhattan when he told me Madonna — who clearly had a thing for him — had rung him up a few weeks before and said she’d written a song about him on her new album. “I was like: ‘Oh, my God.’”

Gabriel recalled that the following day he was in the hairdresser’s and Madonna’s Ray of Light album was on the stereo, and Gabriel told the hairdresser that the song To Have and Not to Hold was about him. The barber looked at him quizzically: “I don’t know whether the song’s a compliment or not.” You make up your own mind: “My heart is in your hand/And yet you never stand/Close enough for me to have my way.”

“That was a long time ago,” Gabriel says now. “Long ago and far away, that was. You’re a devil, asking me these questions about Madonna.”

The Salon Interview

Gabriel Byrne feels your pain, by Sarah Hepola for Salon, April 2, 2009

To me, so much of the show seems to be about the stories we tell ourselves. People come into Paul’s office and they are so convinced that they are self-aware and yet, as you watch each episode unravel, you realize just how deluded they are.

Gabriel: It’s the difference between objective and subjective reality. Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, has a line, “Oh to have the power to see ourselves as other people see us.” Your subjective reality is your truth. And the role of a therapist is to be objective, to be detached and to give you a sense of a narrative of your life, to present it in a way so that you might alter the way you see the world.

So when you’re doing a role where 99 percent of the time you’re sitting down, how does that change things?

Gabriel: That changes things a lot. A huge amount. Your body language is constricted. All that’s left is your eyes, your physical body language. It’s like being in a wheelchair. Part of the character is his stillness. In order to really listen, you have to be still. The danger there is that it becomes dramatically uninteresting. To make that interesting, you really have to be listening so that when the camera goes back to you, the audience has to say, “Oh, he’s thinking.” So what on paper seems like a pretty simple role — you get to sit in a chair, you ask a bunch of questions — it’s much more difficult than that.

The Irish Times

An actor with a lot on his mind, by Belinda McKeon for The Irish Times, February 7, 2009

Belinda McKeon is a novelist and her interview with Gabriel reflects that–she describes his home in Brooklyn and his acting career in the way a novelist would, to create the environment and background for one of her characters. She asks great questions, too.

Gabriel Byrne in a shot from the documentary Stories From Home, 2008

Dingle Film Festival, Ireland

Gabriel Byrne, by John Maguire at his blog Confessions of a Film Critic, February, 2009

Gabriel Byrne is standing before a hundred people in the tiny Phoenix cinema in Dingle watching two men struggle towards him bearing the Gregory Peck Award, a weighty collision of granite and engraved glass. With a theatrical stagger, Byrne takes the sculpture in both arms and sets it down on a table beside him. He gives a tender, sincere speech about how honoured he feels, how Peck is one of his inspirations, how even hearing his name in the same sentence as the great actor makes him humble. When he is finished, the crowd rise to applaud him. He waves and smiles, genuinely delighted, standing for photographs and shaking every offered hand . . .

2008 and earlier

Charlie Rose

This is the last of Gabriel’s four interviews with Charlie Rose. The transcript is located at the video link.

Video interview with Charlie Rose, including transcript: Wednesday 03/05/2008
Actor Gabriel Byrne focuses on his newest role playing a psychotherapist tending to his patients while his own life unravels in HBO’s “In Treatment.”

Role of Choice: Family Man, by John Clark for The Los Angeles Times, October 6, 2000

Talking about why he decided to do a sitcom like Madigan Men in New York City:

“I wanted something that would keep me in New York for six, seven months of the year because I wanted to be with my kids,” he says, referring to Romy and Jack, the two children he had with his former wife, actress Ellen Barkin. “It’s more and more difficult for me as I get older to be away from them.”

There are other, professional reasons why he chose to do a sitcom. One of them is to rework his image, which is sort of brooding Irish. In person he’s quite droll and loquacious. He doesn’t lay his Irishness on with a trowel. He uses a butter knife. This is not the easiest quality to convey in sitcomland, which tends to traffic in caricatures.

Gabriel Byrne: Talent to Byrne, from the Movieline Vault, July 1, 1992

He’s not a household name–yet–but the Irish charmer Gabriel Byrne is one of the hottest properties around town. Here, he talks about his three new movies, why good actors sometimes make bad films, getting the call to serve god and how come he’s the lucky one married to Ellen Barkin.

Gabriel Byrne as Bob in Point of No Return

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