Excerpts and links to text and video interviews available online, including podcasts
Writers on Film, September 30, 2021
John Bleasdale talks to actor, producer, director and author Gabriel Byrne about his new book, Walking With Ghosts, at the Writers on Film podcast.
Clifden Arts Festival, Clifden Ireland, September 1, 2021
Gabriel Byrne joined Des Lally to speak about his new book, Walking With Ghosts, and to read selected extracts from this highly acclaimed memoir—and to have a conversation.
Crossing the Line, London, August 31, 2021
Known for starring in The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing and more recently the television adaptation of War of the Worlds, Gabriel Byrne is an incredible actor with years of experience and over 80 movie titles to his name. In 2018 he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Irish Film and Television Academy.
In this episode, we sit down and discuss how he began in his career, struggles new actors face, and our age-old question – which movie he’s ashamed he hasn’t seen.
Crossing The Line: Tales from The Entertainment Industry brings you a variety of guests who share their stories and experiences from across show business and entertainment. These include actors, directors, writers, casting directors, producers, production staff and many more. The show raises the curtain delivering a much broader view introducing the audience to what goes into bringing them their favourite films, stories, books, video games, television programmes and everything else within the Entertainment Industry.
In Conversation at the Galway Film Fleadh with Kate O’Toole
July 24, 2021
Gabriel and Kate discuss his new film, Death of a Ladies’ Man, and his new book, Walking With Ghosts, and their conversation ranges across a wide range of topics, including theatrical Dublin, politics, writing, acting, and more.
From blockbusters of the 1990s such as The Usual Suspects and Into the West, to recent hits Hereditary and Lost Girls, celebrated Irish actor Gabriel Byrne has enjoyed an illustrious career that spans cinema, television and the stage. His performance in his new film Death of a Ladies’ Man, which is featured in the 2021 Fleadh programme, recently won Byrne the IFTA for Actor in a Lead Role. Byrne plays Samuel O’Shea, a lifelong womaniser who begins experiencing strange visions that disrupt his world and begin to alarm him. Byrne will discuss this role and his craft in an “in conversation” event hosted by prolific Irish actor and writer Kate O’Toole. O’Toole is a board member of the Fleadh and has starred in dramas such as The Dead, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Possession, as well as hit TV series The Tudors.
This is one of the best of Gabriel’s recent interviews. He and Ms. O’Toole, who is, as you may have guessed, the daughter of the legendary Peter O’Toole, make a great pair: engaging, thought-provoking, honest, funny. It is a delightful hour!
The Big Reviewski Podcast at JOE.ie
Gabriel Byrne on how the Irish government and Irish people might react to the apocalypse, a podcast and print interview from Joe.ie, by Rory Cashin, July 13, 2021.
In the run-up to the second season’s release [of War of the Worlds], JOE was able to take part in the global press conference for the show, which included getting to ask Irish acting legend Gabriel Byrne how he thinks the Irish people – as well as specifically the Irish government – might react to a post-apocalyptic situation.
Fiona Sturges interview with Gabriel at Financial Times — print
Gabriel Byrne: ‘There will always be an existential threat’ interview, by Fiona Sturges for Financial Times, July 7, 2021
The Irish actor on the new season of ‘War of the Worlds’, his autobiography and how Richard Burton helped him resist the allure of celebrity.
With a novel you can hide behind your character, but with a memoir,
on each page, you have to
SPEAK THE TRUTH.
The Treatment Podcast: Elvis Mitchell talks with Gabriel about Walking With Ghosts
The Treatment Podcast episode, which aired May 4, 2021, is provided by KCRW Santa Monica, California.
This week on The Treatment, Elvis welcomes actor and author Gabriel Byrne. Byrne has appeared in more than 70 films, including “Miller’s Crossing” and “The Usual Suspects,” and he won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Dr. Paul Weston on HBO’s “In Treatment.” Byrne’s memoir “Walking With Ghosts” details his childhood in Ireland and his path to becoming an actor. Byrne tells The Treatment his early days as an actor were often filled with confusion about how a film was made and the camera tricks often used. He says his character from “In Treatment” was an effective therapist because, even if he didn’t know the answers, he often asked the right questions. And Byrne discusses the surrealism of Irish humor and the joke from his childhood that still makes him laugh.
Mongrel Media: Gabriel Byrne talks about Death of a Ladies’ Man
A wide-ranging conversation centering on Gabriel’s film Death of a Ladies’ Man, written and directed by Matt Bissonnette, with music by Leonard Cohen. Topics include “The Tiger Lady,” “What It’s Like to be Dead,” and “What Does It Mean to be a Father?”
Zoom session posted to the Mongrel Media Instagram channel March 13, 2021
Hunter@Home: Walking With Ghosts
Hunter College sponsored this virtual conversation with Gabriel Byrne and Colum McCann on March 9, 2021.
At this time of social distancing, we invite you to virtually connect with Hunter College through our Hunter@Home series. Enjoy this series of lectures, discussions and readings by members of Hunter’s distinguished faculty. Gabriel Byrne and Colum McCann discuss Byrne’s highly anticipated memoir, “Walking with Ghosts.”
Audio Interview: Wisconsin Public Radio, with Adam Friedrich
Actor Gabriel Byrne Walks With His ‘Ghosts’ In New Memoir : click the link to listen to the podcast. A partial transcript is also available there, too.
The Acclaimed Stage And Screen Actor Shares His Story In Poetic Memoir, by Adam Friedrich, March 6, 2021. “With a memoir you’re confronted on every page with the truth because what was the point of writing a memoir if you weren’t going to tell the truth? So with a novel, you have more freedom to hide behind characters,” said Byrne. “I’m enjoying being free enough to be able to do it.”
Audio Interview: A Conversation with Gabriel Byrne at Now What? with Carole Zimmer
This conversation took place Mar 2, 2021.
You probably know Gabriel Byrne as an accomplished actor from Ireland who’s appeared in more than 80 films. But before Byrne took to the stage he had a series of odd jobs like being a plumber and a petty thief. Byrne was 40 before he appeared in his first American film Miller’s Crossing. He plays a criminal in The Usual Suspects and a psychiatrist in the series In Treatment. Byrne talks to me about his career and his memoir Wallking with Ghosts. “Now What?” is produced with the help of Steve Zimmer, Tay Glass and Alex Wolfe. Audio production is by Nick Ciavatta.
Audio Interview: All Of It with Alison Stewart: A memoir from Gabriel Byrne
Produced by WNYC Public Radio in New York, All Of It with Alison Stewart is a live daily conversation about culture and the culture in and around New York City. This conversation took place February 16, 2021.
Actor Gabriel Byrne joins us to discuss his acclaimed memoir, Walking With Ghosts, about his childhood growing up on the outskirts of Dublin, his brief time in a seminary, and the various jobs he took in the 1960s before joining an amateur drama group.
Audio Interview: In Conversation with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast
Gabriel Byrne on Navigating Past and Present, Fact and Imagination
From the episode:
Gabriel Byrne: When I started to write the book, I hadn’t intended to write a memoir. I was sketching just some images that were persistent in my head. I sometimes think that those images are like when you come on a fence and a sheep has left a bit of wool there; it’s just snagged. And you look at it and you say, I wonder why that’s there. Why is that image there? What does that image actually mean?
The one thing that I learned about the act of memory from writing this is number one, memory is fragmented. It doesn’t move in a chronological past, where you say that happened and then that happened. Memory jumps between the present and the past constantly. It also jumps between fact and imagination. And sometimes you have to excavate the moment to see whether this is a fact or if this is what you think you remember.
An extreme example of that would be if you went back to the house that you lived in, as an adult, and you’d say, god, it’s really small here. That’s an example of how memory can be unreliable.
And that’s why I think I took a while to write the book, because I wanted to test every image from every point of view to say, okay, this is as truthful as I can be.
I don’t think we can really test our memories as much as we should do. Because people say, ah, I don’t really remember that much, it’s kind of hazy. But if you get into the frame of mind where you—I’m not saying meditate, but if you really concentrate on the image, unconscious memories will start to bubble up.
I don’t think that most of what happens to us goes into this big vacuum that we can’t remember. It goes somewhere, and we have to find a way to access it. One of the things that you really remember in life, you remember kind of remarkable things. The day your mother said this or you went to that school or whatever. But what I was interested in was those tiny moments on which our lives turned and that we don’t think are important. But going up the stairs and opening the door and walking in can change your life as much as a major event that happens. I was curious about those little moments, and how are those moments stitched together with the big moments to create who you are?
The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn: Gabriel Byrne in conversation with Lily King
Lily King is the award-winning author most recently of Writers & Lovers as well as the novels The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, Father of the Rain, and Euphoria, one of the New York Times Book Review’s “10 Best Books of 2014,” a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Kirkus Prize. She lives in Maine.
In conversation with Hugh Linehan on the final evening of the Irish Times Winter Nights Festival — print
Byrne was speaking from his home in Maine, in the northeastern United States, snow visible through the window. He was eloquent and open about his life, picking up threads of themes that figured in his recently published memoir, Walking with Ghosts, which he described as trying to connect big and small moments in his life, and “how they have contributed to what I’ve become”. . .
Another story contributing to who he is was about a Christian Brother at school. “I wanted to write about violence, the violence of authority in relation to the powerless. Yes, we were beaten physically, but I think what resonated more was the emotional abuse, and the denial of self.
“That particular Brother took excitement in beating, and you could see how at the end he’d say, ‘Now, you made me do that.’ But you could feel his sense of… the perverse enjoyment, though we couldn’t articulate that at the time. But as a group, without understanding what was involved, we took violent revenge on him.”
Byrne described almost cinematically how, as the Brother cycled out of the school one day, the children started to pelt him with stones, until he was knocked off his bike. “And we stayed there long enough to see the wheel of his bicycle turning and the blood seeping through his hair.”
Years later he met the same Christian Brother, “as an old man, with a shake in his hand”, and saw “he still had the scar from where the stone hit him”. Byrne thought, I can see your scars, but you can’t see mine.
In conversation with Colum McCann at Harvard Book Store
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomed Gabriel Byrne, who was joined in conversation by novelist Colum McCann, author of the National Book Award–winning novel Let the Great World Spin. This conversation took place on January 26, 2021.
Audio Interview at Texas Public Radio
Walking With Ghosts: Gabriel Byrne’s Memoir is Mesmeric Reflection on Family, Memory, and Loss. Audio interview with host Yvette Benavides for the Book Public Podcast at Texas Public Radio, January 22, 2021.
Celebrity memoirs are not uncommon, but Byrne’s is uncommonly well written. In a lyrical narrative that is by turns uproariously funny and heartbreaking, he shares the story about growing up in Dublin and his sometimes trepidatious road to Hollywood, and reveals how inextricably bound his life as a famous actor is to the poignant echoes of his childhood.
Listen to the podcast on their podcast page, which includes text excerpts on topics from their talk, including Gabriel’s thoughts on memory, on loss, and on still being a prolific actor.
In conversation with Wesley Stace at Free Library of Philadelphia
Gabriel Byrne in conversation with musician and novelist Wesley Stace, an event sponsored by the Free Library of Philadelphia. Part of the Walking With Ghosts Virtual Book Tour, January 21, 2021
In conversation with Roddy Doyle at Politics and Prose Book Store in Washington, DC
Since 1984, Politics and Prose has been one of the premier bookstores in Washington DC, offering almost daily author events like this one recorded on January 19, 2021, as well as a great coffee and wine bar. Here Gabriel is in conversation with Roddy Doyle, acclaimed author of The Commitments, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (winner of the Booker Prize) and, most recently, Love, in addition to several collections of stories. He lives in Dublin.
This program was part of the bookstore’s “Dublin Voices” series, a collaboration between Politics and Prose Bookstore, the Embassy of Ireland, Solas Nua, and Global Irish Studies.
Kirkus Reviews: Print Interview with Eric Liebetrau
Profiles: Gabriel Byrne Did Not Write a ‘Celebrity’ Memoir. Interview by Eric Liebetrau for Kirkus Reviews, January 17, 2021.
In this evocative, impressionistic narrative, Byrne’s poetic memories shine through on every page, creating what our starred review calls “a melancholy but gemlike memoir, elegantly written and rich in hard experience.” I spoke with Byrne via Zoom from his home in Maine; the conversation has been edited for length and clarity . . .
You mentioned that you want to write. More memoir? What else?
I’ve done the memoir thing. I’m working on a novel now, which, of course, is a much different process. With the memoir, you constantly have to struggle with deciding what to put in and leave out. I kept thinking to myself, well if I put that in, then it brings up a heap of other shit that I have to write about as well. When you write a novel, you get to pull the strings. I feel that the memoir was a very good training ground for finding a voice that was my own. I would just like people to read this book and not view it as an actor’s memoir but to assess it on its own merit. What you said means a great deal to me when you talk about the writing. That’s much more important to me than saying, I worked with Brad Pitt. If somebody says the writing is good, that’s much more interesting to me.
In conversation with Colm Tóibín at Live Talks in Los Angeles
Gabriel Byrne in conversation with Colm Tóibín, discussing his memoir, Walking With Ghosts, on January 13, 2021 at Live Talks in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Colm Tóibín is the author of nine novels, including ‘The Master’ and ‘Brooklyn.’ His play ‘The Testament of Mary’ was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. He is Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and a contributing editor at the London Review of Books.
In Conversation with Karl Geary at LitHub
In a print interview for Literary Hub, Karl Geary says:
This is part of an ongoing conversation, Gabriel and I have been having, in various coffeeshops, in various parts of the world. Today, we two near-luddites find ourselves on Zoom, in Maine and Glasgow respectively.
Karl Geary: I thought I’d start by just embarrassing you a little bit. I was just looking through some of the notices Walking with Ghosts has received. The first one that struck me was from Edna O’Brien, who says, “The wonder of this memoir is its unembellished truth. It’s written by a man whose amazing story is the stuff of literature,” and then Colm Toibin: “Dreamy, lyrical and utterly unvarnished.” Colum McCann comes in and says, “Make no mistake about It: This is a masterpiece.” I mean, that’s three pillars of Irish literature. And all have said that you’ve managed to do something with the memoir that hasn’t been seen before in Irish literature. It’s an enormous achievement. You’re somebody who could do a number of things. You’d already written a book 20 odd years ago, you knew the difficulties. What was it, do you think, that made you want to attempt this massive undertaking?
Gabriel Byrne: Yeah, well, I would agree with you there, Karl. I mean, in terms of it being a massive undertaking, I think that if I can compare it for a moment to, say, preparing a role for the stage or for film, the initial excitement soon gives way to the fact that that’s all it is, an initial excitement. And then the hard work of actually putting everything together begins. And that involves, in my case, anyway, always a lot of missteps and miscalculations and over-optimistic forays into what are often cul-de-sacs. And the final thing eludes you completely.
What I did know was that I didn’t want to do a conventional thing. I mean, there wouldn’t be any reason for me to do that. But in thinking about it, what I decided to do, I think, was not a chronological book, but to think to myself, what were the moments in my life that changed me forever? What was the first time you became aware of time? Even if you couldn’t make head or tail of it, but the notion of it started to infringe on the edges of consciousness. What was the first time you became aware of death? What were the first flickering images of childhood, the first recognitions of some kind of reality? What was the first time you were introduced to the notion of love and sex? You know, the first misunderstood and incomprehensible yearnings and longings for romance and love? All those invisible markers in the journey. When were they? So, it was a series of firsts.
In conversation with Steven Winn
City Arts and Lectures Public Radio podcast of “Gabriel Byrne in conversation with Steven Winn” was recorded on January 12, 2021. City Arts made this recording available for free to everyone. You can thank them by making a tax-deductible contribution to support public radio in the USA, an important service we really need!
Gabriel Byrne: Walking With Ghosts. Moms Don’t Have Time to Read, a podcast with host Zibby Owens, January 12, 2021.
Gabriel Byrne’s memoir is absolutely gorgeous, and he has so much wisdom to share. His interview with Zibby was briefly interrupted by a goat in the background, but they still got to chat about how his love of literature started with his mother reading classics at bedtime, finding his authentic voice, and the deep work it took to write about the most painful areas of his life.
Gabriel Byrne Interview, with Sarah Lyall for The New York Times — print
This Time, He Stars In His Own Story: Gabriel Byrne, known for his contemplative performances in “The Usual Suspects” and “In Treatment,” contends with his unlikely path to acting in his memoir, “Walking With Ghosts.” Interview and review by Sarah Lyall for The New York Times, January 7, 2021.