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'I have demons I wrestle with ... I’ll never defeat them but I try to keep them at bay' - Gabriel Byrne on turning 70

Gabriel Byrne turned 70 last week. In an exclusive interview, the actor talks to Barry Egan about not being afraid of death, loving silence and nature, hating bullies, disloyalty, and how he 'avoided boasters, lick-arses and people who don't listen'. Some of Byrne's closest friends also give their opinion on the birthday boy

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Gabriel Byrne

Gabriel Byrne

WireImage

Gabriel Byrne

In the mid-1990s, a Guinness worker's son from Walkinstown rented a house opposite Marlon Brando's in Los Angeles. "Brando," Gabriel Byrne told me a few years ago, "was very articulate about what fame does to people and how dangerous it is. He talked about Mephistopheles and the pact that you make with the devil at your own peril.

"If you are not a strong person, it will destroy you. You can list off the people in film or music that fame has destroyed. What happens is not that you change so much as people's perceptions of you change, and that changes you."

Working in an industry where treachery is on a Shakespearean scale, Gabriel has made his mark in Hollywood since his big-screen debut in 1981 as King Uther Pendragon in John Boorman's Excalibur.