Gabriel Byrne may be the first person to talk about “The Brady Bunch” while talking about Eugene O’Neill. The Golden Globe-winning actor is about to star in “Long Day’s Journey into Night” on Broadway, and while chatting about it he can’t help think about the ’70s TV show, which he watched as a young man in Ireland. “One is a complete fabrication of what a family is,” he says. “The other is holding up a mirror to the reality of what it means to be a member of a family.”
Byrne, 65, doesn’t rattle off canned answers to questions; he lets his mind roam. Soon we’re talking about addiction, about how the Bing Crosby classic “Going My Way” is propaganda for the Catholic Church (but still compelling), about whether today’s superhero movies, of which he’s not a fan, carry negative messages. Eventually we get to the subject at hand: the drama “Louder Than Bombs,” in which he plays the father of a family still reeling years later from the suicide of his wife (played in flashbacks by Isabelle Huppert). But even this film, from acclaimed Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier (“Reprise,” “Oslo, August 31”), has so many heady ideas that he stays thoughtful and restless.
One idea explored here is the disconnection between your character and his teenage son, played by Devin Druid, who tends to isolate himself with his computer and gadgets.
I don’t know if there’s such a disconnect. Let’s say you were a parent brought up after the war, in the idealistic Eisenhower years. Then you get to the ’60s and you suddenly you’ve got Vietnam and miniskirts and LSD and civil rights. For parents that must have been as shocking as computers. At least parents can share the computers. I don’t know if what’s separating parents from their kids today is anything strange or new.
I don’t like to ask, “How was it working with such-and-such an actor,” but Isabelle Huppert is someone particularly special.
I’ve always admired her. Still, on the first morning of shooting I found myself sitting across from a nervous actress, worried if she was going to succeed or not. It really reminded me that every film, every play, every job you do is essentially the first time. If you were in a job where you were in the same place over years, you know your coworkers. Every time you start a film you have to get to know people you’ve never met before, and work on material you’ve never seen before, in a location you’ve maybe never been before. It takes a few days or even weeks to relax. I remember reading that Charles Laughton had it written in his contract that he could re-film the first day’s work. I understand exactly what he meant.