It's true that Gabriel Byrne was trained as a bullfighter in Spain but despite internet rumors, he never came in contact with any bulls. The training entailed classes of ten and he describes the teacher as rather disappointing: "It mostly consisted of him with a pair of fake horns running at us - and we paid a lot of money for this. I was foolish enough to think that you could study bullfighting in 12 weeks with an Englishman who was never in the bullring."
Gabriel Byrne has a passion for cinema and was an avid visitor of movie houses as a kid. He always enjoyed the atmosphere, sitting in the dark and following the stories; and he recalls to have seen up to twelve movies in one weekend or up to six movies during the week.
At the age of twelve, he left home and went to a Roman Catholic seminary in Birmingham, England, to become an African missionary. He was expelled with 17 since he has only been interested in football and girls, was notoriously late for prayers, and smoked by the cemeteries.
Gabriel Byrne loathed his first name as a kid because he was teased with nicknames like Goosy or Gaby Hayes. Gabriel is actually an uncommon name in Ireland but as of now, he considers it to be a cool name.
When Gabriel Byrne attended the University College in Dublin, he also studied phonetics. This might be one of the reasons why he is fairly adept in possessing different accents.
Gabriel was made a UNICEF Ambassador for Ireland in 2004.
Gabriel supports the Irish Hospice Foundation, saying people should have the right to die in dignified surroundings.
Gabriel criticized the architecture of new buildings going up in Dublin, calling them ill-suited to their surroundings and their instigators 'architectural vandals'.
In 2008, Gabriel Byrne stared as King Arthur in the the concert production Camelot of the New York's Philharmonic Orchestra. His performance was generally well received, although he earned some criticism for his singing and dancing.
Gabriel is 5'11" tall.
Gabriel Byrne was educated by Christian Brothers in Dublin, Ireland up until he was 12. In November 1999, he reported in an interview with the New York Post, that severe physical abuse was common and that he suffered from it from the the ages 8 to 12. Boys were pulled up on their hair and beaten with the legs of chairs. He also talked about a priest, his Latin teacher, who molested him sexually at the age of 11. Many years later he called this priest who remained silent during the call. Byrne didn't press any charges.
Gabriel Byrne wrote his autobiography Pictures in My Head that was first published in 1995. He also read the audio version of this book.
Jacob's Award for Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama, for Bracken (1979).
International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actor for Gothic and Defence of the Realm (1987).
Maverick Tribute Award, Cinequest San Jose Film Festival (1999).
Theatre World Award for A Moon for the Misbegotten (season 1999-2000).
Inaugural Gregory Peck Excellence in the Art of Film Award, Dingle Film Festival (2008).
Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series, Drama, for his role as Paul in In Treatment (2009).
Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for Weapons of Mass Distraction (1998).
Blockbuster Entertainment (Favorite Actor, Horror) for Stigmata (2000).
Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor for End of Days and Stigmata (2000).
IFTA Award for Best Actor in a Feature Film for Wah-Wah (2005).
Best Actor Emmy for In Treatment (2008).
Gabriel Byrne: Acting is a very satisfying way to make a living but it's not life. I don't want to spend my life on movie sets and wake up at 70 and say "Where's my life gone?" I know people like that and I don't want to end up like that - the horror of being somebody that the movies sucked dry.
Gabriel Byrne: (on the abuse he suffered at 11) I was taken advantage of in a very vulnerable situation where I was being told the facts of life. Physical boundaries were crossed, let's say. (The inappropriate contact involved...) touching and closeness rather than anything more overt than that. I would never have thought to tell my parents because, in the world of a child, I assumed that anything that happened to you was inevitable. What makes this inappropriate behavior so despicable is that the child does not have a choice.
Gabriel Byrne: They say that acting is the shy man's revenge and cinema certainly is the refuge for a lot of lonely, shy people. You can be alone and not lonely in a cinema. It's almost like being in church.
Gabriel Byrne: Would I have been better off as a teacher in Ireland or Spain? It's a very difficult question to answer. You take the road and you travel along it. I probably would do the same thing again.
Gabriel Byrne: Not to oversimplify it, somebody once said a good rule of thumb in interpreting a character is to find the good in the bad people that you portray and the bad in the good.
Gabriel Byrne: I'm not a very gregarious person. I can't bear attention being called to me in a public place, which is ridiculous in a business that pays you to be noticed.
Gabriel Byrne: I think there's a bit of the devil in everybody. There's a bit of a priest in everybody, too, but I enjoyed playing the devil more. He was more fun.