Thommas Kane Byrne: ‘Anxiety can be quite isolating and stressful’

Life Lessons: Thommas Kane Byrne, actor and playwright

Thommas Kane Byrne: ‘I have received so much love and support in my career thus far. I’m very lucky’

Thommas Kane Byrne: ‘I have received so much love and support in my career thus far. I’m very lucky’

 

What was the biggest challenge you have ever faced?

I try to look at the bigger picture, always, and compared with some of my friends and family, my life has been without too many challenges. Besides that, I have been suffering from anxiety for a long time. It can be quite isolating and stressful, particularly at drama school when there are so many egos and insecurities in the same room at the same time. Thankfully I have an incredible support network and have really strengthened my hold over my anxiety over the past few years.

What is the best advice you ever received?

What other people think of you is none of your business.

And the worst?

“Would ya not look into theatre?” 

Is there a moment that changed your life?

I don’t know if I can remember the moment exactly because there isn’t very much between us age-wise, but I thank God and my parents every day for giving me my sister Shauna. She is everything to me. She is my best friend, my soulmate and number one fan all in one. My brother Cian has grown into the most amazing young man too, and the older he gets, the closer we become. He’s a solid second place, haha! 

Who do you admire most?

My mam, Susan Kane. I know everyone thinks their mam is the best in the world, but mine actually is. Anyone who meets her can attest to that. She is the most kind-hearted, selfless and loving person I have ever met. She taught me “you don’t give to get” and “don’t let anyone’s lack of kindness affect yours”, and she truly lives by both. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t have a Susan Kane in their life.

Who has influenced your career?

In terms of acting, I’m very much a character actor, so I would say Bette Davis and Joaquin Phoenix. Both are two incredible character actors who never fear ugliness or risk in their quest for truth and art. In terms of writing, I would say Tennessee Williams and Ryan Murphy. Tennessee, because it’s no secret that my favourite things to write about are women, and the place I come from. Nobody past or present has been able to write for women like Tennessee.

Ryan Murphy is also someone who I greatly admire. His ability to create entire worlds and keep us within them is something I find very exciting. And also, Theatre Upstairs. Karl [Shiels] and Laura [Honan] took me under their wing when no one else would and became my family. I speak to Laura every day, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of or speak about Karl. I have received so much love and support in my career thus far. I’m very lucky.

What do you do for your personal development?

I make lists for everything. I have to. They keep me sane and organised. I also talk. About everything. Always. It makes the small things that you’ve been sweating over look even smaller, and the more important things look more important. 

What is your biggest flaw?

Not knowing when to give up and walk away. I have given so much time and energy to people who in hindsight didn’t want or deserve it. I hate having to give up and I hate not being able to help, but sometimes you just have to concentrate on the ones who do want and deserve it.

What is your worst habit?

Coco Chanel said to take one accessory off before you leave your gaff. I usually throw another three on.

What are you most proud of?

The people in my life. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them or their love and support but looking and listening to how much they love me really takes my breath away. People are truly the most precious things. I love them.

What is your motto for life?

In the words of my Ma, go out and set the cat among the pigeons.

Thommas Kane Byrne stages his new play, Mrs Macushla: The Story of Kelly’s Eye, starring Hilda Fay, at Project Arts Centre as part of ThisIsPopBaby’s Where We Live Festival 2020 (a sidebar of the St Patrick’s Festival), March 11th-21st. thisispopbaby.com

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