Gabriel Byrne on Richard Burton and Richard Harris

“I remember sitting one day talking to Burton and he asked his assistant, ‘How many films have I made now?’ And his assistant said to him, ‘I don’t know 85, 90 maybe.’ He said he was addicted to film and on Friday he’d say when does the next one start because for him it was an escape from reality.

“Burton was a fantastic reader, so was Harris. I think Burton and Harris would have preferred to have been writers. I’m almost positive of it, but I sensed a loneliness and an unhappiness from them

“Burton was 56 when I worked with him and he was already a very old man he could barely move his neck he walked very slowly he was very frail.

“I remember working with Harris in Lapland and he jumped into a freezing cold lake and even the Eskimos were saying they don’t do that that’s dangerous.

“And I thought Harris was old at that time because he seemed old even though he was built like a rugby player but when he died he was only 72. That’s not old. And Burton was 58.”

Gabriel Byrne on our drinking culture

“I think it’s very much woven into what we think of as a good time. People watch football matches in pubs with pints. Birthdays funerals, everything revolves around alcohol. Even conversation doesn’t really get going until people have a few pints.

“But the idea of drinking to oblivion ... That seems to be something apart. If I go to Glasgow or Newcastle or Bristol or Dublin on a weekend night I am shocked, at how there’s no stigma attached to being face down in the roadway. Young girls, young boys.

“And you think, ‘What makes people behave like this? Because I came from that culture. You were actually considered to be a great lad if you could drink 20 pints. I knew a fireman who drank 23 pints one day and then got back into the thing to put out a fire. And people said, ‘Ah, yer man’s grand’ Jeez, not a bother on him.’”