Mary Rose Byrne (born July 24, 1979) is a Golden Globe-nominated Australian actress.
Byrne was born in Sydney, Australia, the daughter of Jane, a primary school administrator, and Robin Byrne, a semi-retired statistician and market researcher. She attended Balmain Public School and Hunters Hill High School before attending Bradfield Senior College in North Sydney. She has an older brother, George, and two older sisters, Alice and Lucy. She began taking acting classes at age eight, joining the Australian Theatre for Young People and also attended the University of Sydney. In 1999 Byrne studied acting at the Atlantic Theatre Company developed by David Mamet and William H. Macy. Known to family and close family friends as Chabs after a family cat she had in her youth named Chablis, after the wine, a favourite of her native Australia.
Byrne was cast in her first film role, Dallas Doll, when she was 12 years old. She has appeared in a variety of Australian television shows including Heartbreak High, Echo Point, and the film Two Hands alongside Heath Ledger. She appeared in The Date, My Mother Frank, and Clara Law's The Goddess of 1967 for which she obtained the Female Volpi Cup at the 2000 Venice Film Festival. Meanwhile, she appeared as a guest in an episode of the cop drama series Murder Call. She also acted on stage, playing a lead role in La Dispute and starred in a production of Anton Chekhov's classic Three Sisters at the Sydney Theatre Company.
Byrne appeared in the music video of Darren Hayes's single I Miss You and starred with Australian musician Alex Lloyd in the music video for his single Black The Sun and was featured on the cover artwork for the EP. She also appeared in the TV Commercial for Sony and reunited with Alex Lloyd, appearing in his music video for 1000 Miles from the album Distant Light.
In 2002, Byrne entered Hollywood with a small role as Dormé, the loyal handmaiden to Natalie Portman's Senator Padmé Amidala, in George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. and appeared the same year in the movie City of Ghosts with Matt Dillon.
The next year, she flew to the UK to shoot I Capture the Castle, Tim Fywell's adaptation of the 1948 novel of the same title by Dodie Smith. In the film, which relates the adventures of the eccentric Mortmain family struggling to survive in a decaying English castle in the 1930s, she portrayed Rose Mortmain, the elder sister of Romola Garai's Cassandra. She starred the same year in three Australian films: The Night We Called It a Day alongside Melanie Griffith and Dennis Hopper; The Rage in Placid Lake for which she was named Best Actress at the Australian Film Institute with singer Ben Lee; and Take Away another comedy.
In 2004, Byrne starred as Briseis the Trojan priestess who was abducted during the Trojan War by Achilles (played by Brad Pitt), in Wolfgang Petersen's epic Troy, also starring Eric Bana, Peter O’Toole, Sean Bean, and Orlando Bloom. She then reunited with Peter O'Toole in the acclaimed BBC TV drama Casanova. Byrne appeared with Snoop Dogg in Danny Green's film The Tenants, based on Bernard Malamud's novel, and starred with Josh Hartnett and Diane Kruger in the romantic psychological thriller Wicker Park where she played Alex, the woman who manipulated Josh Hartnett's character to keep him apart from the woman he falls in love with.
In 2006 Byrne portrayed Gabrielle de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac a French aristocrat and friend of Marie Antoinette, in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette, alongside Kirsten Dunst and The Dead Girl directed by Karen Moncrieff.
In 2007, she played Cassie, the pilot in Danny Boyle's science fiction suspense film Sunshine, and then portrayed Scarlet Levy, an army medical officer, in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later.
She will next be seen in the independent film Just Buried, a Canadian dark comedy written and directed by Chaz Thorne as well as an Australian film noir The Tender Hook with Hugo Weaving.
Byrne is currently in a FX drama production Damages,playing the regular lead role of Ellen Parsons, a young attorney torn between her hard-hitting, high-stakes new boss (Glenn Close) and her own ambitions.
She and Marie Antoinette director Sofia Coppola have both played handmaidens in the Star Wars prequels; Coppola appeared in The Phantom Menace, Byrne in Attack of the Clones. She was the face of Max Factor between 2004 and 2006 and named in the Most Beautiful People of 2007 list in Who Magazine.
Byrne has supported UNICEF Australia by being the face of the 2007 Designers United campaign and a member of tropfest jury in 2006 and tropfest@tribeca in 2007. She is a graduate and ambassador for NIDA's (National Institute of Dramatic Art) Young Actors Studio. She was recently named the first patron of Chauvel Cinemas presented by the Brisbane International Film Festival and named in honour of Charles Chauvel.
Byrne has used several different accents in her films: Australian, British, American, and the Canadian.
Byrne has been in a relationship with Australian writer, director and actor Brendan Cowell for over four years. The couple have maintained a long-distance for much of their relationship, with work commitments meaning they were often on separate continents.
However, Cowell has planned a move from Sydney to New York City, due to Byrne's success on Damages. Previously she dated Australian writer, director Gregor Jordan who directed her in Two Hands.
|2000||My Mother Frank||Jenny|
|The Goddess of 1967||BG|
|2002||Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones||Dormé|
|City of Ghosts||Sabrina|
|2003||I Capture the Castle||Rose Mortmain|
|The Night We Called It a Day||Audrey Appleby|
|The Rage in Placid Lake||Gemma Taylor|
|Take Away||Sonja Stilano|
|2005||The Tenants||Irene Bell|
|2006||Marie Antoinette||Gabrielle de Polastron, duchesse de Polignac|
|The Dead Girl||Leah|
|28 Weeks Later||Major Scarlet Levy|
|2008||Just Buried||Roberta Knickle|
|The Tender Hook||Iris|
Television credits Edit
|1995||Echo Point||Belinda O Conor||Lead character|
|1997||Fallen Angels||Siobhan||Guest(1 episode)|
|Wildside||Heidi Benson||Guest(2 episodes)|
|1999||Big Sky||Angie||Guest (1 episode)|
|Heartbreak High||Carly Whitely||Guest (3 episodes)|
|2000||Murder Call||Sarah Watson||Guest(1 episode)|
|2005||Casanova||Edith||BBC Mini series|
|2007–2010||Damages||Ellen Parsons||Lead character|