Now the actress, who is of Irish and Scottish descent, appears for the first time as the leading lady in a major blockbuster, the Nicholas Cage box office smash “Knowing.”
Byrne is no stranger to Ireland. She praised the country’s beauty, saying: “I've been here once before, I drove around the country for ten days with my partner about five years ago. We went to Limerick, Galway, Cork, Kerry and Dublin. It was beautiful. We had the most terrific weather at the ring of Kerry, it was like we were at the Greek islands or something.”
But this latest trip to Ireland was more for business than pleasure. Byrne made the rounds in Dublin, endorsing her new movie and discussing her career.
“Knowing” is directed by Alex Proyas, director of cult favorite “The Crow.” The intense film is a combination of action and sci-fi, featuring large-scale disasters, aliens and fortune telling.
This crazy mix of genres didn’t intimidate Byrne. “Alex Pryos deals with a lot of science fiction and super natural. He’s made movies like ‘The Crow’ and ‘IRobot,’ so I knew if anyone could pull it off then he could.”
Byrne explains that she wasn’t too involved with the sci-fi paranormal moments in the film. “I wasn’t involved in a lot of the supernatural stuff, so when I saw the film I was so impressed with how he set the tone that it’s already pretty eerie before the final moments. When the ending comes along it’s radical, but the tone is already set for him to pull it off.”
Proyas is a fellow Australian, which a factor in Byrne’s attraction to the project, as was the unusual depth in her character, Diana, who’s not your typical action movie ingénue.
“I read the script in one go and loved; it was very intriguing. While it was sinister it was also uplifting. I had huge empathy for my character Diana - she’s a really complicated, three dimensional character, whereas often in a big film like this the female role can be pretty one dimensional and not challenging, she was the opposite.”
“I like action because it gets you out of your head,” she said. “I love doing the physical stuff – it’s very instinctual and more freeing in a way. I would have liked to have done more, most of my stuff was very serious and dark so the little bit of action I had I really enjoyed.”
“Knowing,” which topped the U.S. box offices with $24.6 million in its opening weekend, marks Byrne’s bit time leading lady debut, and the actress felt “blessed” to be a part of the film. Byrne thanks her star turn in “Damages” for catapulting her career to where it is today.
“I'm quite grateful for the show because I think it’s given me a platform that I didn't have beforehand,” she said. “I had been doing smaller roles in big films and big roles in small films, so I'm grateful for what it’s done for my career and also I just love the work, I love the show. I'm a big series watcher myself, so I'm proud to be part of one.”