So we didn’t exactly get a couch session with Gabriel Byrne, but we did nab the star of HBO’s In Treatment for a few minutes last night at Soho House (where he was hosting a Grand Classics screening of The Quiet Man to benefit FilmAid International). Stammering under his piercing blue gaze, we somehow managed to ask how he felt about becoming what some people are calling the next McDreamy. “It’s a pleasant byproduct,” Byrne said of his newly reignited sex-symbol status. “I think [the show] touched off something deeper in viewers than they expected.” Well. It certainly did. What about all the fans out there obsessed with the actor’s expressive use of his hands? “I don’t know what that’s about,” he said. “My ears were also actively involved. I think you should maybe concentrate on my ears now, their effect on the subtext of my performance.” We assured him we would.
So was Byrne an active therapygoer? “I never felt I needed it,” he said, citing Freud’s claim that the Irish are immune to psychoanalysis. Instead, he said, he’d studied talk-show hosts to prepare for the role: “Bill Moyers, Dick Cavett, Charlie Rose.” Why them? “Because they have to listen in a way that’s both nonjudgmental, empathetic, involved — and they also have to be detached. And those guys are not men who depend on the glib question and the glib answer.” Seriously? we were thinking. But Charlie Rose never listens to anyone. He totally interrupts people all the time, like the other night when — suddenly we realized Byrne had stopped talking and was waiting expectantly. We scrambled. So, um, do your friends tell you you’re a good listener? we finally asked. He again fixed his eyes upon us: “I think it’s important to listen to people, don’t you?” —Darrell Hartman