Interviews, 2010 – 2012

Return to Interviews – Main

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


Gabriel Byrne (“Secret State”) Interview, by Cultbox, November 10, 2012

“I think the function of a really good political thriller is not providing the answers, but to raise questions. And that’s why I believe these kinds of films are important, because you come in with the really big ideas on the back of a gripping story.”

Gabriel Byrne on Secret State: playing the power game, by Chris Harvey for The Telegraph (UK), November 2, 2012. [This article is now behind The Telegraph’s paywall]

The Last Word Podcast

Matt Cooper interviewed Gabriel Byrne on The Last Word, his radio show in Ireland, November 5, 2012.

Click the image to listen to the podcast.

Matt Cooper: Tell us a little more about The Gathering as well. You’ve been involved as the Cultural Ambassador for Ireland here in the United States for the last couple of years. What does that actually involve? What have you been doing?

Gabriel Byrne: Well, the work was pro bono. I decided to do it because I was approached by Culture Ireland. We achieved enormous amounts of…it was a tremendous achievement, what we did in two years. We opened up the Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, we reached out to 150 libraries all over, we had shows all over–it was a huge achievement. And after the two years, because this government pays lip service to the arts and to culture, they more or less just dropped it and that was the end of it. And it’s really unfortunate . . .

Read the entire transcript of this podcast. This transcript was created by Stella.

Gabriel Byrne, Welcome Display at Dublin Airport, 2012

Interview: Gabriel Byrne, by Tony Clayton Lea, on his website, September 16, 2012

“What keeps you vital is curiosity, being involved and being in the present, connecting with other people and being open to new experiences. I woke up one day, and realised that I didn’t have any more time for nostalgia – enough already! It’s live in the past or live in the present, and I choose the latter.”


Gabriel Byrne Surveys America’s Problems, by Henry Giardina for Bullett Magazine, November 8, 2011. The complete interview is no longer available and Bullet Magazine has unfortunately closed its doors.

Part of the interview and the accompanying Diego Uchitel photoshoot can be enjoyed at this posting for it.

Photoshoot by Diego Uchitel, 2011
Wallpaper by Stella

Gabriel Byrne: In My Library, by Barbara Hoffman for The New York Post, June 12, 2011

Byrne lives in Brooklyn now, but his heart has never left Ireland. He’s not only its Cultural Ambassador, but an eloquent spokesman for the Imagine Ireland festival (, sponsoring some 400 events throughout the US this year. He says he was lucky to have grown up in rural Ireland, where he saw “the last of the great storytellers — men who went from house to house telling stories. The world they created took people out of their everyday existence . . . Imagination was the TV of its time, and our only way of expressing truly who we are.” Read the article to discover the four books he recommends from his library.

Imagining Ireland With Gabriel Byrne, by Sheila Langan for Irish Central, May 12, 2011

The most immediately striking thing about Gabriel Byrne, aside from his very light blue eyes and the chunky silver Claddagh ring he wears on his right hand (and the fact that he is Gabriel Byrne), is the thoughtfulness with which he approaches every question and topic. As many interviewers before me have commented, his answers do at times seem to verge on the tangential or even evasive. But he lets nothing rest at a superficial level. Sure, ask him a prying question and he may step nimbly around the issue with a quote from Shakespeare and a loosely related anecdote. Why not? Celebrities need to be artful to maintain some degree of privacy. But ask him a question about film, or the Catholic Church, or what it is to be an emigrant, and you will receive a profound reply. These things too, after all, can be personal.

Interview at The Guardian

Brooding? I don’t even know what that means, by Hadley Freeman for The Guardian, April 25, 2011

Actor Gabriel Byrne’s subtle portrayal of a psychotherapist in TV series In Treatment has won him awards and made him a heartthrob again at 59

An interesting irony of Gabriel Byrne’s career is that despite having acted for 30 years and been one half of a celebrity couple for a decade when he was married to actor Ellen Barkin, he has managed, to his relief, to maintain an impressive privacy – yet the parts he chooses are, despite himself, highly personal, and even self-revelatory. What public perception there is of him seems to extend little beyond “Irish”, “handsome” and – to use his least favourite yet the most popular description of him – “brooding”. (“I don’t even know what that means!” he complains, with – unfortunately for him – an expression close to brooding.)

Well, after meeting him, I can exclusively reveal that yes, he is Irish, and, yes, very handsome too, if, inevitably, a little more salted and grizzled than he was 20 years ago as the chilling but heartmeltingly beautiful Tom in Miller’s Crossing.

But while he is thoughtful, painstakingly at times, and frequently self-deprecating, he is far from “brooding”. He turns what was supposed to be a one-hour interview about a TV show in a cafe near his apartment in New York’s SoHo into a four-hour impassioned conversation, funny at some points, searing at others. I emerge from it faintly dizzy.


Comfortable But Not Too Familiar, by Amy Chozick for The Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2010

Gabriel Byrne as Paul Weston and Debra Winger as Frances
in Season 3 of In Treatment

These days, the Irish actor spends most of his days seated as he portrays the pensive psychotherapist Paul Weston in the HBO series “In Treatment,” which returns for its third season on Oct. 25. Debates regularly break out on the set over how Dr. Weston’s Brooklyn, N.Y., home office—the scene of almost every episode—should look. Mr. Byrne believes it should be schlumpy and functional rather than aesthetically pleasing. He has swapped out Dr. Weston’s chair each season trying to get comfortable and places Irish tea bags, favorite books and framed photos of friends and family around the room to make it homier.

“A therapist’s office is about the furniture, the way you sit on it, the design of it, the cheapness of it tells a story in and of itself,” Mr. Byrne said. On a recent afternoon, Mr. Byrne, 60, couldn’t get comfortable. He climbed off the plush sofa at the HBO headquarters and opted to sit for an hour-and-a-half interview on the hard, carpeted floor. He speaks with a Dublin accent and has a warm, familiar manner that feels more like that of a favorite professor than a movie star. “[English actor] Alec Guinness used to say, ‘Start with shoes. Be in comfortable shoes.’ I used to think, what frivolous advice. But now it makes absolute sense,” he said . . .

The Two Gabriels

“The Meaning of Life” with interviewer Gay Byrne talking to Gabriel Byrne in 2010

This was a blockbuster interview, during which Gabriel discussed his experiences at seminary and his battle with alcoholism. Tough, vulnerable, courageous–he was all those things and more.

Emily Nussbaum and Gabriel Byrne talk about listening

All Ears: How Gabriel Byrne turns listening into eloquence on HBO’s In Treatmentby Emily Nussbaum for New York Magazine, October 21, 2010

At 60, Byrne—an Irish-born actor best known for Miller’s Crossing and The Usual Suspects—is dashing in a dark-blue coat and burgundy cravat. With his shaggy hair and fans of laugh lines, he can come across as a schoolgirl’s fantasy of a Byronic professor, or perhaps a particularly literary rock star. He wears a Claddagh ring, the heart pointed inward. He speaks fluently and fluidly. He presses his hands between his knees, smiles crookedly, quotes poetry. It’s not difficult to comprehend why, when I search his own name on Twitter, I find strangers posting about stalking the man through the streets of New York.

Part of this allure, of course, derives from what has become his signature role, Dr. Paul Weston, the analytic hero of the HBO series In Treatment, now in its third season. The show, based on an Israeli series (see here), is one of the most subtly experimental dramas on television, using Byrne’s sooty charisma to tremendous effect. In Treatment consists of little but dialogue yet manages to be as suspenseful as 24, romantic and agitating in surprising turns. The third season features three new patients: an Indian widower (Slumdog Millionaire’s Irrfan Khan), a narcissistic actress (Debra Winger), and an acerbic gay teenager (Dane DeHaan). The first dozen episodes blew me away.

Return to Interviews – Main