Rose Byrne

On this date in 1979, Australian actress Mary Rose Byrne was born in Sydney to June and Robin Byrne, respectively an atheist school administrator and agnostic statistician/market researcher. She started taking acting lessons at age 8 and landed her first role in the movie “Dallas Doll” when she was 15.

She studied drama at Sydney’s Australian Theatre for Young People and later at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York, whose founders included David Mamet and William H. Macy. She appeared in a variety of Australian television and movie roles before her first “big budget” performance in George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002).

Bryne followed that by playing a temple priestess in “Troy” (2004), in which Brad Pitt starred as the mythic Greek warrior Achilles, and an aristocrat in Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” (2006). She was nominated for Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy awards for playing an attorney in all 59 episodes of the FX and DirecTV legal thriller “Damages” alongside Glenn Close (2007-12).

She stayed busy throughout the 2010s in numerous small- and large-screen roles. She played Gloria Steinem opposite Cate Blanchett as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in “Mrs. America,” the 2020 FX on Hulu series about the fight to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and ’80s. She was cast in 2019 opposite Steve Carrell in Jon Stewart’s political satire “Irresistible,” set for release in 2020 in which she played a Republican consultant for a mayoral race in a small, right-wing Wisconsin town.

She told People magazine (May 1, 2020) that she was sheltering from the coronavirus pandemic in New York City with actor Bobby Cannavale, whom she’s been with since 2012 and has two sons, Rocco (b. 2016) and Rafa (b. 2017). They call themselves husband and wife even though they’ve never married. Before that Byrne was in a relationship with actor Brendan Cowell from 2003-10.

Byrne told BlackBook magazine in 2009 she was agnostic and that life is “a series of chemical accidents. That’s the type of way I choose to believe. Maybe because I’m not religious.”

PHOTO: Byrne at the Australian premiere of “I Give It a Year” in 2013; Eva Rinaldi photo under CC 2.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation