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Gabriel Byrne feels the burden of being 'In Treatment'

April 5, 2009 |  4:00 am
Gabriel-byrne Gabriel Byrne looked exhausted. Three days earlier, he had wrapped production on the second season of "In Treatment," the HBO drama in which he plays therapist Paul Weston, and as he sank into a sofa at the network's midtown headquarters, the Irish-born actor still had heavy bags etched under his eyes.

"It's a doggedly difficult role to play," said Byrne, who is in every scene of all 35 episodes, which begin airing tonight. Each was filmed on a Queens soundstage in about two days, a punishing pace that forced the actor to master his lines breathtakingly quickly: by the end, he was up to 12 pages in 30 minutes.

"I didn't experience the winter in New York at all," he recalled. "I arrived in the dark and I left in the dark, and all day I was in a room in a chair. It taught me an awful lot about perseverance and stamina and focus and concentration, and not staggering under the weight of it."

It was a grueling experience to undergo for a quiet drama that attracted a small audience in its first season, despite its many critical plaudits, which included a Golden Globe win and Emmy nomination for Byrne.

But the actor speaks about the series in ambitious terms not usually applied to a television show. "The themes that are examined in this season are reflective of our culture, our society, in a larger context," he said. "In my opinion, it deals with the loneliness of the kind of communities that we live in. Everything that we took for granted, the stable pillars of society -- that's no longer there. So uncertainty produces fear and anxiety."

Read more Gabriel Byrne feels the burden of being 'In Treatment'

(Photo by Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

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