Born May 12, 1950 in Dublin, Ireland, Gabriel Byrne is the sixth child of a cooper father and a hospital worker mother. Raised in a Catholic family, he attended the Irish Christian Brothers. He took up archeology and linguistics at the University College Dublin and became proficient in Irish. During his teenage years, he played soccer and was also a member of the Stella Maris Football Club.
Before being an actor, he made a living as an archaeologist, a Spanish schoolteacher, a short-order cook, and a bullfighter. Gabriel Byrne discovered his passion for acting much later in life, at age 29. His started his career by joining Focus Theatre and Abbey Theatre in his hometown. Eventually, he became part of London's Royal Court Theatre and the National Theatre. In 2000, he earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in the play entitled A Moon for Misbegotten. He was also cast for the stage production of A Touch of the Poet.
This versatile actor landed on a wide range of roles including being a priest in the thriller film Stigmata and playing Satan in End of Days. Among his other movies are Excalibur, The Usual Suspects, Ghost Ship, Assault on Precinct 13, The End of Violence and King of Pipers.
In 2004, he was appointed to the position of UNICEF Ireland Ambassador. In 2007, he was awarded Lifetime Achievement in Acting at the 5th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and also received Honorary Patronage from the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College. The National University of Ireland, Galway awarded him an Honorary Degree for his outstanding contribution to Irish and international films. In 2008, he joined the cast of the HBO drama In Treatment, as the leading character. His role is that of Paul Weston, a psychoanalyst and respected doctor.
He was married to ex-wife Ellen Barkin and has two children named Jack Daniel and Romy Marion. .
Byrne can now be seen in the new History Channel television series Vikings
(Photo courtesy of HBO)