Sunday 22 July 2018

Gabriel Byrne says becoming a dad at 67 is 'brave' and 'bittersweet'

Achiever: Gabriel Byrne and his wife Hannah Beth King. Picture: Michael Chester
Achiever: Gabriel Byrne and his wife Hannah Beth King. Picture: Michael Chester
Gabriel Byrne & new wife Hannah Beth King since they married earlier this month in Ballymaloe Country House Hotel, Cork
Producer Hannah Beth King actor Gabriel Byrne attend the 70th Annual Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre on June 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Gabriel Byrne and Hannah King got married in Cork at the weekend
Gabriel Byrne and producer Hannah Beth King arrive at FIJI Water at 2016 Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre on June 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for FIJI Water)
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Mick Jagger did it at 73, Billy Joel and Ronnie Wood did it at 68 and Rowan Atkinson at 62. But Irish actor Gabriel Byrne says becoming a father in your later years is "bittersweet".

The Usual Suspects star, who picked up the Lifetime Achievement award at the IFTAs last Thursday night, says being an older dad is a "brave" move.

"It's like, everything, you think 'oh yeah, I did that thing in life', but now this is a new journey again. Looking into the eyes of a creature that's full of innocence and wonderment makes you reflect how out of touch we get with that feeling; the way we take everything for granted as we get older, while a child will sit and play with a shoelace for 10 minutes because they are amazed by it.

"But it is also a bittersweet experience, for obvious reasons," he said.

Producer Hannah Beth King actor Gabriel Byrne attend the 70th Annual Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre on June 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
Producer Hannah Beth King actor Gabriel Byrne attend the 70th Annual Tony Awards at The Beacon Theatre on June 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

Gabriel, married to younger wife Hannah Beth King, says he tries not to worry about his age as his child gets older because there are no guarantees in life for anyone.

"Life is precious and it is short and there is not one person here tonight who can put up their hand and say 'I will be here tomorrow'. Nobody can.

"So I can bring love and commitment and compassion as I have tried to do with my other kids, and that's all I can do. It is a brave thing to do.

"Am I worried about the future? Most people are worried about the future. We live in really unstable times. You think about it."

The actor and his wife welcomed their first child, a baby girl, last year, after marrying in a low-key ceremony at Ballymaloe House in Cork in 2014. Gabriel also has a son and a daughter from his previous marriage to Ellen Barkin.

He said the award is meaningful for him in a very personal way.

"There are markers in life that allow you to look back and assess decisions taken, and for me, it is looking at an emotional journey, from leaving Dublin to coming back to Dublin. This signifies an emotional journey that has been full of fear and doubt, insecurity, success and failure.

"Fame doesn't necessarily change you, it changes everyone around you. When you are 24 and from Dublin and suddenly the entire world is telling you are not that kid from Dublin anymore, holding on to your identity is tremendously important."

Gabriel Byrne & new wife Hannah Beth King since they married earlier this month in Ballymaloe Country House Hotel, Cork
Gabriel Byrne & new wife Hannah Beth King since they married earlier this month in Ballymaloe Country House Hotel, Cork

Speaking of the IFTA, he said: "I can't believe that starting off in Dublin with no expectation of anything led to that and that and that.

"That moment, when I left Dublin that night, I had no idea the journey would end in a place like this, at a ceremony like this."

Like many of the female attendees, Charlie Murphy, Caitriona Balfe, Amy Huberman and host Deirdre O'Kane all wore black in support of the #TimesUp movement against sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Balfe, who was nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama for her role in Outlander, told how she hoped the movement would leave its mark.

"It would be nice to continue the message throughout the award season and keep the conversation going," she said.

The Monaghan woman (38), who recently got engaged to Tony McGill, her boyfriend of two years, showed off a dazzling engagement ring at the Golden Globes last month.

Sunday Independent

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