Jeremy attends AIPAD show

The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) had their annual photography show at the Park Avenue Armory last weekend (March 28-29). It’s the longest running international show of fine art photography.

Jeremy Irons was there too.

Check out this blog for a first-hand account and even a photo of Jeremy at the event:

Quite All Right: Sunday Photo Overload

Impressionism PLAYBILL Scans

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Impressionism Video Preview (BroadwayWorld.com)

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WABC speaks to Jeremy and Joan on Broadway Backstage

Follow this link to watch the video on Saturday night:
WABC speaks to Tony Award winners Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen, who are starring on Broadway in the romantic new play IMPRESSIONISM.

WABC-7 TV PRESENTS
“BROADWAY BACKSTAGE: SPRING PREVIEW”

SATURDAY, MARCH 28 at 7:30PM-8:00 PM

Hosted by WABC-7 News Anchor Lori Stokes and
Tony Award winner & ACCENT ON YOUTH star
David Hyde Pierce

Tune in to WABC on Channel 7 for a sneak peek at
Broadway’s hottest shows including:

33 VARIATIONS, ACCENT ON YOUTH, EXIT THE KING, GOD OF CARNAGE, IMPRESSIONISM, MARY STUART, THE NORMAN CONQUESTS, THE PHILANTHROPIST, WAITING FOR GODOT

Impressionism Reviews…

PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Impressionism — The Arty and the Smarty

By Harry Haun
March 25, 2009

My first-night impression of Impressionism on March 24 — from the “unique” vantage point of Row AA on the far right of the Schoenfeld Theatre, almost eye-level to the stage — was that I would dearly love an opportunity to follow the good advice which playwright Michael Jacobs kept handing his characters: You have to step back from a painting (and, metaphorically, the travail of life) in order to see the whole picture.

From where I sat, there seemed to be some dazzling projections (from Elaine J. McCarthy) and lighting effects (by the great Natasha Katz) splashed across the scrim during the eight scene changes, but I couldn’t swear to it. (Less close is better for this experience, if you want to get an eyeful of the projected world-famous paintings.) However, I can attest to being star-struck by a center-stage Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen.

Irons represents the realistic view of life, a war-worn photojournalist pretty shot himself, back home to heal from all he has seen and recorded. Allen advocates the impressionistic view of life, a self-contained art-gallery proprietress holding on to her paintings at all costs (in psychobabble parlance, her art is her “baggage”).

The opposites attract and spend the rest of the play — between sales — falling in love and trying to convert each other to their different views of life. The classiest kind of parry and thrust is called for here — and gets it from two attractive, intelligent, stylish stars who haven’t been on the Broadway boards for a good two decades.

Sardi’s, which is also having something of a comeback this season, was the scene of a “celebratory cocktail reception” that followed the performance. (Sardi’s Party No. 4 is set for Exit the King on March 26.) Ordinarily, it’s a quick scoot to Sardi’s through Shubert Alley from 45th Street, but this time first-nighters found it a slow go because of the crowd clamoring for Angela Lansbury outside the Shubert after Blithe Spirit‘s early curtain — and La Lansbury graciously tends her fans (M-G-M training, y’know).

Impressionism began previews as a two-act and soon came down to one, causing a lot of Riedel-needling in the press. “Well, they’re never easy,” sighed the director, Jack O’Brien, when consoled. “The thing is, I made the big mistake to begin with by saying, ‘I think it should be in two acts’ — and, of course, it can’t be. The minute I put an intermission in, I realized, ‘Omigod! All the energy is going forward, and you can’t stop to think because you don’t have all the clues. You have to just keep going. It’s a play where you keep figuring things out as you go along.’ When I realized I confused people, I put it back together. I didn’t cut anything. I took out an intermission.

“I think this is a play for grown-ups. I think this is a play for those of us who have collected a lot of baggage and wonder whether we can ever, ever let it go and find something else, find something new. I think it is a play that is subtly witty and wise. It’s got a lot of wisdom in it. It’s funny and, at the same time, serious about picking yourself up and trying to find somebody else when you’re not a teenager. That’s a hard thing to do. You gotta get rid of the past before you can start all over again. And that’s what it’s about. It’s giving people a lot of courage and a really lovely evening.”

O’Brien can take a bow for cheerleading Allen and Irons back to the stage after all those salad days in cinema. He couldn’t get better spokespeople for the bloody-but-unbowed. “Oh, they’re glorious,” he exclaimed, “and, of course, they are polar opposites: He’s all fire, and she’s all cool. Together, they make such great chemistry.”

Allen recognized the sparks but couldn’t say how they got there. “You never know,” she shrugged helplessly. “I do enjoy playing with Jeremy very much. I love that I’m a Midwest girl and he’s a British guy. But I do think that there is just something culturally specific about us. Sometimes, it’s one of those things that just works.”

She was happy she made the big leap back to Broadway. “It was actually easier than I remembered,” she admitted, “and I am pleased with the way the play came off. Actually, I think it even went beyond that. Sometimes, you have something in your mind, and I even think this went beyond ‘pleased.’ I did it because I loved the play and I loved the director. I like the character, too. She’s someone I deeply recognize — one of the many strong, accomplished women in New York City still on their own.”

Irons, who won a Tony his only previous time on Broadway (in Tom Stoppards The Real Thing in 1984), seemed instantly at home again. “Oh, it’s wonderful to be back,” he declared. “New York audiences are very appreciative. They tell you whether they like you or not, and they seem to be liking this, which is good.”

Andre De Shields, a song-and-dance man (The Full Monty, Ain’t Misbehavin’) who has developed some serious acting chops (Prymate, Cato), here takes on two disparate characters — an African native named for the sweet potatoes he totes, and a Manhattan baker who plays a kind of head-clearing Polonius to his favorite client.

He won the evening’s only exit-applause as the latter. When someone asked him if he heard it off-stage, De Shields demurred, “I’m trying to focus on the characters.”

View the Entire Photo Gallery
Jeremy Irons
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Although the characters occupy different worlds and cultures, De Shields sees them as one: “From my perspective, they are the same spirit. Chiambuane in Tanzania serves as a spiritual enabler for Thomas, the character played by Jeremy Irons, and then Mr. Linder serves as a spiritual enabler for Katharine, the character played by Joan Allen, in New York. So imagine a time previous to now and a time in the future. His spirit will spiritually enable whoever is in trouble, to liberate their hearts. So I think of it as an ageless specter — that’s the way the character came to me — so I help Thomas in Africa, so I help Katharine in New York, so I help Harry in Sardi’s.”

He was quite dry-eyed about the current, shortened state of Impressionism: “The only thing we lost was an intermission. When you remove 15 minutes, things change. You have to call the designers back in and set up the equipment again because in art, as in life, you change one thing and it affects everything else. When we were intending to open on March 12 — I mean, we were ready to open — what we discovered, with the two acts, is that we were giving the audience an opportunity to second-guess what was going to happen in Act II when indeed we tied it all up in a nice little bow. So, why even give them a chance to have the wrong impression?”


Buy this Limited Collector’s Edition

Aaron Lazar, another musical-theatre specialist (blasts at the barricade, a specialty), changes his tune here to no tune to play an altar-bound young romantic.

Why? you may rightly ask. “The play, the cast, and then Jack O’Brien. It was great fun. It was — the most — fun. It’s one of the best ensembles I’ve ever worked with.”

The two other customers of the gallery are in a considerably higher tax bracket and are played by Michael T. Weiss, in his Broadway bow, and by Marsha Mason.

Weiss already likes the sound of “Broadway actor,” he admitted. “I kinda love that. It has been a long time. I started out in theatre here and then got sucked into the Los Angeles film-and-television world. I’m so happy to be doing this now. It’s my favorite thing to do. I just needed a role in New York that I really adored.”

The role in question is a ridiculously rich art collector, and Weiss plays the part in a rather lighthearted vein. “He’s a very wealthy guy, but he has a good time with his money. Why not? Right? If I were worth $100 million, I’d be in a good mood.”

Mason’s character becomes a grandmother during the course of the play, prompting her to up her ante for a painting Allen personally identifies with. “She goes through a nice little arc,” said Mason, who’s a frequent date and actress of O’Brien’s. “This is our sixth project together. We go all the way back to the mid-’70s in San Francisco at A.C.T., and then in L.A. we did Mary Stuart and The Heiress, and then Jack directed The Good Doctor for PBS, and then I did Twelfth Night at the Old Globe in San Diego.”

First-night family gatherings included Lily Rabe and her mother, Jill Clayburgh, and her brother, Michael Rabe — as well as Liz Callaway and her husband, director Dan Foster, and her sister, pianist-composer-chanteuse Ann Hampton Callaway. The latter, of course, was ever-ready to improvise a song about the show. Also: “I’m going to do a benefit for the Jewish Alliance for a New World on my sister’s birthday, April 13 — she won’t be there, but we’ll be going getting drunk afterward — and I’ll be at Carnegie Hall for the centennial Johnny Mercer tribute. I forget the date of that.”

Other friends of the court: Sadie Friedman (Allen’s gorgeous daughter who’s thinking of taking up the family trade), Kenneth Welsh (who lost both Christine Baranski and Glenn Close to Irons in the original Mike Nichols production of The Real Thing) and Bob Balaban (who in December directed Irons and Allen in their first team-effort, a Lifetime film called, and about, “Georgia O’Keefe,” airing this fall).

Also: Karen Ziemba (back from rave reviews in San Diego for playing it straight: Stockard Channing‘s role in Six Degrees of Separation), Blythe Danner (about to follow up “Meet the Parents” and “Meet the Fockers” with “Little Fockers”), radio’s Joan Hamberg (whose screenwriter-son, John, created the Fockers), Elaine Stritch, chef Rocco DiSpirito, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, Isiah Whitlock Jr. (who’s going to reprise Beau Willimon‘s Farragut North on the West Coast with the original Atlantic Theatre Company cast, sans John Gallagher Jr., who’s working on a musical with Green Day), Donna Murphy and Shawn Elliott, lawyer Mark Sendroff, John Lithgow, singer Christine Andreas, comedienne Nancy Opel (taking a night off her hilarious explosions in The Toxic Avenger that pounces on New World Stages April 6), Penny Fuller (still Dividing the Estate at Hartford Stage, between May and early July), Anne Kaufman Schneider and director Joseph Hardy.

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NY1 “Time Out” review of Impressionism by David Cote with video. It’s not a glowing review of the play, but there is great video of scenes from the play itself.

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Impressionism’ muddled, but Irons and Allen shine

March 26, 2009, 4:22 pm

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – It doesn’t take an art history major to predict that “Impressionism,” the new play starring Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen that opens on Broadway Tuesday, is going to use that groundbreaking style of painting as a metaphor for life. Michael Jacobs’ play can be said to resemble Impressionist works as well: The closer you examine it, the less moving it becomes.

Still, this gentle comedy/drama about the relationship between a brittle New York art gallery owner and her mild-mannered employee has its charms, which are accentuated by the winning presence of its lead performers, who have been absent from the Broadway stage for far too long.

In its early scenes, it appears as if the evening will be a slog. First we are introduced to Katherine (Allen) and Thomas (Irons), who engage in lengthy debates about subjects like the relative benefits of coffee cakes versus muffins when not showing various masterworks to such potential customers as a wealthy older matron (Marsha Mason) and a Modigliani-craving businessman (Michael T. Weiss).

The action then confusingly and tiresomely shifts between scenes set in the gallery and various flashbacks, including Katherine at age 6 interacting with her soon-to-be-divorced parents (played by Irons and Allen); Katherine at 30 posing nude for a womanizing artist (Irons); and Thomas during a recent trip to Africa where he was shooting photographs of an elderly fisherman (Andre De Shields) for National Geographic.

The play is not helped by its diffuseness — it has been shortened considerably since its early previews — or by its tonal shifts between sitcom-style comedy and sensitive drama. And the lengthy explications about the famous paintings projected on scrims slow the pacing considerably.

But the final scene, when the main characters let down their emotional guard and finally find a way to connect, is quite moving, making one nearly forgive the many missteps along the way.

The two stars — who are aging like fine wine — make middle-aged love seem very sexy indeed. Allen is as luminous onstage today as she was decades ago in “The Heidi Chronicles,” while Irons offers a wily, understated comic turn that should have the matinee ladies quivering.

Director Jack O’Brien has staged this problematic work about as skillfully as one could expect, and the rest of the cast, especially Mason and the scene-stealing De Shields, offer solid comic support.

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Allen, Irons make more than a good impression

By BILL CANACCI
Staff Writer

from http://www.mycentraljersey.com

You can look at a painting or a photograph you love 1,000 times and still feel touched and inspired. And if you’re lucky, or maybe just open-minded, one of those times you will notice something new.

With “Impressionism,” Michael Jacobs has created a mature, intelligent and witty play about love and art. But it is also about seeing what’s in front of us, about what makes us love something or someone, and about the power of memory.

Set in Manhattan, “Impressionism” is the story of Thomas Buckle (Jeremy Irons), a world-traveling photojournalist, and Katharine Keenan (Joan Allen), a New York gallery owner. As the play begins, we do not exactly know what is going on between them. We do know this: The two are able to have the most entertaining conversations — the dialogue throughout the play is truly first-rate — about coffee cake and cranberry muffins.

But the play then takes us on a journey into the past — to explain why Katharine loves a painting in her gallery. The transition back in time is one of the joys of the play, and projection designer Elaine J. McCarthy is to be commended. Her work, combined with scenic designer Scott Pask and lighting designer Natasha Katz, make this play a visual delight. I’m hesitant to give away details because describing it would spoil the effect. But I will say this: It is unexpected and wonderful to smile and be moved during scene changes.

Allen, who won a 1988 best actress Tony Award for “Burn This,” has not been on Broadway in 20 years. Irons took home the 1984 best actor Tony Award for “The Real Thing” — so it’s taken 25 years for him to return to the Great White Way. And yet here they are — making magic together, as if they’ve been on stage together dozens of times.

Irons plays a few roles in the play, but he’s best as Thomas, a man who knows seemingly everything — and loves to tell stories about what he knows. But he is not arrogant or snobbish. Well, maybe a little snobbish, but the audience loves him because they know his heart is good.

Allen is equally impressive. Katharine is an educated woman who prides herself on her ability to read people. It’s fascinating to watch as her character develops — through memories as well experiences in the present at the gallery.

Deserving mention are Marsha Mason, who plays a woman who loves the same work of art as Katharine, and Andre De Shields as Chiambuane, who befriends Thomas while he is working in Tanzania. (My theater companion was a bit uncomfortable during this scene; he thought it bordered on racist. I would not go that far, but I can see how it may make some people a bit uncomfortable.)

Director Jack O’Brien, who won a Tony for his work on the mammoth production “The Coast of Utopia,” captures the pieces, or dots if you will, of the play: the dialogue, the love story, the art, the memories. There is a real flow from start to finish. He makes it seems effortless, when in reality it is a major undertaking.

In some ways, this play will remind people of “Sunday in the Park With George,” Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant musical. But it stands on its own.

And yet one song from that show, “Putting It Together,” seems particularly appropriate: “Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art/Every moment makes a contribution/Every little detail plays a part/Having just a vision’s no solution,/Everything depends on execution.”

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The A-Team

Actors trump material in the theatrical smackdown God of Carnage and the more muted Impressionism.


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The first two-thirds of Michael Jacobs’s Impressionism are so indistinct and unfocused they make Monet’s water lilies look like photo-realism: Joan Allen plays Katharine, a Manhattan art-gallery owner who can’t part with her high-end merchandise, which symbolizes bits of her past she’s not yet ready to shed. Katharine’s employee, Thomas (Jeremy Irons), a photographer who used to shoot in Africa for National Geographic, is as even-tempered as she is high-strung. He’s also a coffee aficionado, and he shares his wisdom with Katharine; she reciprocates by singing the praises of a cranberry muffin by a local baker (played, marvelously, by André De Shields). They banter and brood cleverly and self-consciously, and in between, dramatized flashbacks show us the lives they led before they were trapped in a sleepy gallery. Customers—including one played by Marsha Mason—alleviate the tedium, but just barely.

And then, in the last half-hour of Impressionism’s single act, Katharine and Thomas’s world opens up like one of those Monet lilies. The play’s director, Jack O’Brien, has shaped it so that we can’t be sure what’s going on until the very end, when we step back from Katharine and Thomas’s daubed-on dots and dashes of conversation and see the broader pattern of their relationship to each other.

The material’s surprise revelation is more a handy way out of the characters’ incessant talkiness than a satisfying, believable conclusion, but at least it gives us something to hang on to. Allen works hard to make Katharine sympathetic; we can see that she’s wounded, not just self-centered and abrasive. But the performance is too finely calibrated: It clacks along efficiently but never breathes. As Thomas, Irons has the luxury of being relaxed and charming, even though his character, too, harbors painful secrets. Irons’s performance is comfortably rumpled and lived-in, an effect that requires meticulousness and discipline. His gift is that he makes hard work look like a shrug. –S.Z.

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Impressionism opens on Broadway and proves art isn’t easy

by Suzanna Bowling  – NY Broadway Examiner
March 25, 1:06 AM

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Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons

Like life art is an acquired taste and the same goes for Michael Jacobs Impressionism playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. This particular play is my taste but for the life of me I can’t tell you why. There are times that you go to a museum or an art gallery and a painting that you didn’t think you liked, eats away at you. By the time you are able to turn your eyes away, you have been profoundly moved. There really are no words just vast amounts of feeling. Is the painting for everybody? Probably not, but is anything really for everybody?This is how Impressionism struck me. The play set in an art gallery, tells the tale of Katherine (Joan Allen) and Thomas (Jeremy Irons), lives through flash backs. How they evolved to who they are. What gives them their idiosyncrasies and how they finally find love. For those romantics out there and I am one, this is a chick flick brought to the stage. To look at this production is breathtaking. Monet’s, Chagall’s, Picasso’s, Cassatt’s and other masters are illuminated before our eyes. They shed light like tiny specks so we can see the bigger picture. Joan Allen is radiant as Katherine who fears abandonment and clings to her paintings. Jeremy Irons wraps his way into our hearts and by the end, like Katherine we fall in love with him.Marsha Mason shines in the small role of Julia trying so desperately to connect with her daughter. Andre De Sheilds embodies both of his characters with a great monologue about life and what love really is. Jack O’Brian’s staging is what I did have problems with. The flashbacks are hard to follow and as beautiful as the art is, it becomes distracting and at times too much. Impressionism proves “Art isn’t easy”, but it can and does touch our souls.

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Opening Night and Afterparty Photos!

NEW YORK – MARCH 24: Actress Joan Allen and actor Jeremy Irons attend the Broadway opening night of ‘Impressionism’ at the Schoenfeld Theatre on March 24, 2009 in New York City.

Photos by Bennett Raglin/WireImage and Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Sophie Dahl sits down with Impressionism’s Jeremy Irons – from Men’s VOGUE

As Jeremy Irons glides onto Broadway, the elegant actor talks about art, Brideshead Revisited, and pushing his motorcycle to the limit. By Sophie Dahl.

Photographed by Norman Jean Roy.

Let me preface this by telling you that Jeremy Irons is a family friend and that I remember him in a childhood context: as a tree-house builder, a cricket player in the garden, and a smoky-voiced teller of stories drinking gallons of tea at the kitchen table of his house in Oxfordshire. The palpable chemistry between him and his wife—the actress Sinéad Cusack, with whom he has two sons, Sam, a photographer, and Max, an actor—was of ceaseless fascination to us all as children, further cemented by the exotic fact that he called her by a name that wasn’t her own: Janie.

Another useless fact: He owned a domestic rat, neatly christened Miss Ratty, who lived solo in a sprawling cage by the swimming pool, and who one day (immaculately, so it seemed), spawned a dozen wriggling rat babies. The mystery was answered one night by the sighting of a wild Mr. Ratty, to whom Miss Ratty was wantonly offering herself through the bars of her spinster cage.

The Wolseley, Piccadilly, is a favorite haunt of Irons’s, so much so that when I arrive at the café and say I’m meeting Irons for breakfast, I’m ushered to a quiet table in the side barroom, in case, they whisper, he brings his dog, which apparently he often does.

I see him before he sees me, out the window, flying down Piccadilly on his BMW motorbike (sans dog), all in leathers. I watch him park and cross the street, pushing his salt-and-pepper hair out of his eyes, rendering a group of women giggling and flustered as he sails past them, unaware.

“Why do you call your wife Janie?” I ask after he has spooned himself into the banquette and ordered a cappuccino.

“Because it’s the English for Sinéad,” he says, laughing at my disappointed face.

We are not here, however, to talk through my rose-tinted-spectacles childhood version of events. We are here to talk about his career, including his turn in Impressionism, the Michael Jacobs play in which Irons is starring as a photojournalist, alongside Joan Allen as a New York gallery owner, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York. (The show opened March 12.) Irons—who has not appeared on Broadway since Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing in 1984—is flustered because he thought he would be getting to know Allen in rehearsals but had recently been offered the part of Alfred Stieglitz to Allen’s Georgia O’Keeffe in a Lifetime Channel biopic of the painter. “I’m slightly nervous,” Irons says, “because I was looking forward to the process of getting to know her—and getting to know the character—when we did the play, and now, of course, I will know her already.” He makes an “Oh, well” sort of face.

But this must be an occupational hazard, I counter, when you are an integral part of a small pool of prolific actors and have been working for 30-plus years. For starters, he has acted with his wife three times, including in the films Waterland and Stealing Beauty. “It’s difficult, working with someone you know that well. We had to sort of try to batten down our relationship, put it away, and create this new one.” I ask whether there was anything sexy about it. “It was, quite,” he says, smiling at the memory. “Quite.”

Irons has an impressive cast of leading ladies he’s worked with repeatedly, among them Meryl Streep, with whom he has starred in both The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The House of the Spirits, which costarred another longtime collaborator, Glenn Close. Irons and Close first appeared together on Broadway in The Real Thing, but it was with 1990’s Reversal of Fortune, in which Close played the ill-fated Sunny to Irons’s complex Claus von Bülow, that the actor won an Oscar.

Irons does not shy away from playing shadowy types. If anything, he has wholeheartedly embraced them, including the sinister Mantle twins in Dead Ringers, the fallible Dr. Stephen Fleming in Louis Malle’s Damage, and that most erudite of pedophiles, Humbert Humbert, in the 1997 remake of Lolita. Even in animation, it seems, Irons can’t help being bad: He’s just drawn that way. Take, for instance, Scar, the villainous feline in Disney’s The Lion King. Irons talks of these iffy characters with warmth and empathy, finding something redeemable in all of them.

Born on the Isle of Wight on September 19, 1948, Irons was privately educated at a boarding school in Dorset. Postschool and pre-Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, where he trained, Irons made money as a busker, singing Dylan on the pavements of London. He met Cusack during a stint in Godspell, in which he was an unlikely John the Baptist. They married in 1978, and just after this he landed the role that was to cement his place in the hearts of England’s womenfolk, as the perennially floppy-haired Charles Ryder in Granada Television’s adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. I ask him whether he has seen the recent film remake.

“No. It’s a bit like being asked to go and meet one’s ex-wife’s new man,” he says with a low laugh. “Think I’ll pass on that one, but so glad she’s happy.”

The lovely thing about Irons is for all of his accolades, he’s infinitely happier praising his wife, speaking of his sons and their passions, and waxing lyrical on his membership in the Guggenheim Motorcycle Club, cofounded by Thomas Krens, the museum’s former director. (Fellow riders include Dennis Hopper and Lauren Hutton.)

“It’s always tied up with the art,” Irons explains. “We went from Los Angeles through Death Valley to an exhibition in Vegas. I love it because when you ride a bike, there’s so much danger about it that all your instincts come right to the surface, all your senses. And that’s a wonderful way to see art. So when you go to the gallery, you’re really tingling. I think art should be dangerous and uncomfortable and surprising and all those things motorcycle riding is.”

Irons collects art, mostly British and Irish oils. He has also recently restored an ancient African sculpture, but he’d like to make something clear. “It’s not just sculpture,” Irons says. “It’s magic. It was an object of reverence of a man and a woman sitting on a stool; the legs of the stool are their children. It was a bit wormy and broken, and I bought it and brought it home and did this really careful restoration on it—oiled it up and apologized to the forebears and said, Listen, it’s going to remain a revered object. And it’s terribly important, especially with anything that’s spiritual. You have to revere it.”

Equally revered—and restored—is the castle he owns in County Cork, Ireland, which he worked on for six years. “I did the castle because I was getting very bored with my film work, and I thought it was showing,” Irons says. “So I wanted to do something that galvanized me, where there was risk and danger, and so I did the castle. After that, I worked up an appetite to go back to filming. But I’m finding at the moment that the theater is all-consuming.”

He is just beginning to tell me more when something quintessentially English happens: A jocular gentleman of a certain age comes bounding up to the table and says to me, “I’m terribly sorry. I think I’ve seen you on television. Have I?”

Irons responds with deadpan timing, “You see everyone on television these days, don’t you?”

The man then does a comic double take and says, somewhat suspiciously, “You look like a film director. Are you a film director?” Irons shakes his leonine head patiently.

“I have directed, but, no, I’m not known as a film director.”

“What are you known as?” Jocular persists.

“I suppose I’m known as an actor.” Irons smiles at him. His long fingers are tapping on his coffee cup, and he has kicked me under the table.

“Easy Rider” has been edited for Style.com; the complete story appears in the April 2009 issue of Men’s Vogue.

Jeremy attends opening night of “God of Carnage” – Photos!

NEW YORK – MARCH 22: Jeremy Irons attends the opening night of ‘God of Carnage’ on Broadway at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre on March 22, 2009 in New York City.

Off-kilter is still Jeremy Irons’ calling – from the LA Times

From the Los Angeles Times
THEATER
Off-kilter is still Jeremy Irons’ calling
On Broadway in ‘Impressionism,’ Irons turns to what he’s moved to portray: the damaged soul.
By Patrick Pacheco

March 22, 2009

Reporting from New York — In “Impressionism,” the new play by Michael Jacobs, art gallery owner Katharine Keenan (Joan Allen) playfully teases shy colleague Thomas Buckle about “a hideous sexual problem.”

That figures. After all, Thomas is played by Jeremy Irons, who has never shied away from adding portraits of damaged characters to his own gallery, including the creepy Humbert Humbert in “Lolita”; the obsessively weird physicians in David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”; murder suspect Claus von Bulow in “Reversal of Fortune,” for which he won an Oscar; and even the deliciously evil Scar in “The Lion King.” The latest is the villain in Ed Harris’ “Appaloosa,” which he did for love, and the playboy in “Pink Panther 2,” which he did for money.

Irons, 60, is delighted that audiences would hardly find it a surprise that he’s trotting out yet another oddball. “Well, for Thomas, that ‘hideous sexual problem’ is nothing more than not having much sex,” says the actor, in his dressing room at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, where the drama opens Tuesday. And for Irons himself?

“Well, fortunately I don’t have one,” he says, perched on the sill of an open window and thoughtfully puffing on his self-rolled brown cigarettes. “Not more than anybody else, that is. But I have to say I am attracted to ‘problem’ plays like this one, both in structure and in content. I mean, it’s damage that unites us all as human beings, doesn’t it?”

In person, the man who was once described as “the thinking woman’s pinup” appears more vibrant and less haunted than the characters he is often called upon to play. Certainly no more so than Thomas, a photojournalist, who arrives at Katharine’s gallery heartbroken and bereft. His inability to save a young boy in Africa has left him at sea, an emotional paralysis shared by Katharine, who has her own roadblocks to intimacy.

“It’s an eccentric, highly unusual play,” says Irons of the drama that has brought the classically trained British actor back to Broadway more than two decades after his Tony-winning performance in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing.” It’s not been an easy journey. “Impressionism” atypically had no previous development, and its original opening was postponed for a couple of weeks after preview audiences found the play confusing, in part because Allen and Irons are called upon to play multiple roles.

“It has been something of a trial finding Thomas,” says Irons, adding that he first dismissed the play as a “load of baloney” until he was convinced otherwise by a reread of the layered scenes that move the oddly matched couple toward love. Irons says he was also influenced by the involvement of director Jack O’Brien and Allen, with whom he had just costarred in a Lifetime special about artist Georgia O’Keeffe and photographer Alfred Stieglitz. “I’m much more gut than cerebral, and I just felt what the play had to say about grown-up love and loss was something I wanted to hear.”

Irons is no stranger to love and loss, freely admitting that he infuses his varied roles with the emotional scar tissue of his past. He locates his first trauma when his parents — his father, an accountant; his mother, a homemaker — dropped him off at a boarding school at age 7. He felt totally abandoned after an idyllic childhood spent on the Isle of Wight with two elder siblings. This was followed by two other ruptures: a painful split with a boyhood chum and his parents’ divorce.

“I’ve never been in therapy; I like my rough edges, not knowing things about me,” Irons says. “But I recently wondered about an event when I was young that made me intensely angry, angrier than I’d ever been before.” Recalls Irons, at 14 he would often bike four miles into the countryside with his classmate, Henry, to shoot pigeons, drink beer and flirt with a family’s daughter at a nearby farmhouse. They were both musicians (Irons started his career as a busker) and the school “anarchists.” “We would bend any rule,” he says. “And one day, I asked Henry, ‘Are you coming along?’ And he said, ‘No,’ by which he meant to say, ‘I’m a different person, I’m not a part of you, I’m separate.’ And I felt so terribly alone.”

Irons says he recovered from this feeling of alienation as well as his parents’ divorce the following year in the manner that most people do: retreating into a social carapace. He admits he’s terrible at parties, can’t stand the Hollywood scene and much prefers the relative isolation of his castle in Ireland where he lives with his wife, actress Sinead Cusack. The couple have two sons, Samuel, 31, and Max, 24. “But it’s the peeling back of that carapace, really getting to know the heart and soul of a person, that is the most glorious journey that a person can take,” he says. “That’s probably why I became an actor and perhaps why I am so strong in that particular area.”

The patient “peeling back,” Irons says, came when he met Cusack after a disastrously short first marriage, at 21, to actress Julie Hallam. “We were just too young,” he says. “I’d been living with her for three years and when her mother said, ‘Are you going to get married?’ I thought it only gentlemanly to say, ‘Yes,’ rather than, ‘No, I just want to go on screwing your daughter.’ ” Still, the actor says he was crushed by the split and threw himself into dating a lot. “I’m a terrible flirt, I adore women, I really love getting to know them,” he says. “But when I met Sinead, I thought to myself, ‘Right, this girl has legs. This relationship could work.’ “

More than three decades of marriage later, Irons says he takes nothing for granted about “the real thing.” He says that when his parents divorced, he watched as his father went on to another spouse and, in his opinion, wasn’t necessarily the happier or more satisfied for it. “I really value family, I’ve fought for it,” he says. “Sinead and I have had difficult times, every marriage does because people are impossible. I’m impossible, my wife’s impossible, life’s impossible. But I do know that it won’t be any more possible with anybody else.”

Still, as committed as he is to Cusack, Irons says that he always holds something back, “just for self-protection.” That is why he was so attracted to playing the injured Thomas in “Impressionism.” The actor recalls that on a recent Saturday night, he was shopping near his flat in Greenwich Village when he happened to pass a Catholic church. The 6 o’clock Mass was in progress and he stayed for it. “I’m not a great churchgoer,” he says, taking a puff of his cigarette. “But I looked around and I thought to myself, ‘All these people are here because on some fundamental level they’re admitting to themselves that they are in some way damaged, lacking. . . . They need something.’ And that’s why I liked sitting there with them.”

Jeremy Irons returns to B’way in ‘Impressionism’

Jeremy Irons returns to B’way in ‘Impressionism’

By KRISTEN A. LEE, Associated Press Writer

Friday, March 20, 2009

(03-20) 11:59 PDT NEW YORK, (AP) –

At first read, Jeremy Irons — mulling a return to Broadway after 25 years — was prepared to pass on “Impressionism.” The Tony Award-winning actor didn’t quite get Michael Jacobs’ romantic comedy, which opens Tuesday in a production directed by Jack O’Brien.

But another read changed his mind.

“The second time, I thought, ‘I want to do this tomorrow,'” he said. “It really grabbed me.”

“Impressionism” stars Irons as a photographer who comes to New York after a personal tragedy and falls into in a prickly friendship with a slightly neurotic art gallery owner, played by Joan Allen.

“And really it’s the process of how he heals and she sheds her emotional baggage so that by the time the end of the play comes, they’re ready for each other,” Irons said.

Irons’ long absence from the Broadway stage is in part because his last appearance, in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing,” was such a tough act to follow. That play — which starred Irons as a playwright struggling with two flawed marriages — nearly swept the 1984 Tony Awards. Irons collected a statue, as did director Mike Nichols and co-stars Glenn Close and Christine Baranski.

“It was a play that could have been written for me,” Irons said. “There was very much a fear that I don’t want to do something that isn’t as good as that experience. This was the first play that I thought, ‘Well, we have a chance.'”

Romantic comedy is not the most likely vehicle for Irons, who got his start in theater after training at the Bristol Old Vic.

“I am known for being sort of long, thin and morose,” he said in his distinctive and very British baritone on a recent evening before a preview performance.

After his breakout on-screen role in the 1981 British miniseries “Brideshead Revisited,” based on the novel by Evelyn Waugh, Irons has enjoyed a prolific film career that has been notable for roles that explore dark corners of the human psyche.

They include the icy murder suspect Claus von Bulow in “Reversal of Fortune,” which earned him an Academy Award; disturbed identical twins in David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”; and the obsessed Humbert Humbert in an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita.” More recently, he won Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his role as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in the 2005 miniseries “Elizabeth I,” which starred Helen Mirren.

The 60-year old actor, who hunts foxes by horseback when at home in Western Ireland, fished a cigarette from a saddlebag slung over the chair of his dressing room and perched on the sill of an open window to smoke. In a dusky rose button-down with a brown scarf wrapped around his throat, one could almost believe he had just dismounted outside the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

“Larger than life” is how O’Brien described Irons’ personality. “He’s witty, he’s seductive, he’s incredibly smart.”

“He has extreme energy when he comes to rehearsal,” said Allen, who won a Tony Award in 1988 for her performance in “Burn This.””He’s very focused and he’s very, very bright.”

Coincidentally, this is Irons’ second project with Allen in recent months. After both actors had signed on for “Impressionism,” Irons was cast opposite Allen in a biopic about Georgia O’Keeffe that will air on Lifetime Television later this year.

Irons played O’Keeffe’s husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who had a tumultuous relationship with the painter.

The movie was filmed in the last months of 2008, almost immediately before rehearsals began for “Impressionism” in New York. Allen and Irons had never worked together, so the prospect of two back-to-back projects stirred some anxiety in the actors and O’Brien.

“I thought, ‘What if it ignites? What happens if they loathe one another? What in the world am I going to do?'” O’Brien recalled.

“I think everybody was a little bit nervous,” Irons said. “But in fact we got on very well.”

Both Irons and Allen attributed their chemistry onstage to their differing personalities, specifically the contrast of Allen’s all-American candor with Irons’ dry British wit. Their differences extend to rehearsals, where Allen said she tends to focus on her own performance, while Irons enjoys getting a hand in all facets of the production.

“I’m interested in where the lights go, why that piece of music is chosen. And I always have opinions and I’ve never stopped myself putting them forward,” Irons said.

He acknowledged that his outspokenness may — on occasion — rub his directors and co-stars the wrong way. “It’s very different from how (Allen) works,” Irons said. “I always have to say to her, ‘I’m sorry, I think I’m probably driving my tank onto your lawn.'”

For her part, Allen said Irons has “wonderful ideas,” while O’Brien acknowledged that his assertiveness may threaten a less confident director.

“He’s really smart,” O’Brien said, “and he has enormous passion for the work and for getting it right. So if you are insecure or defensive, he’s not your boy. Fortunately, I’m neither.”

Not surprisingly, Irons said he would like to do more directing himself and hopes to start filming a small movie set in Ireland later this year. As for movie acting, Irons said he has also grown weary of the long process of promoting films, with the required press junkets and red carpet appearances.

“I think also as you get older — because movies are really a young man’s business — there are less interesting roles,” Irons added. “But there are some great roles waiting to be played in the theater.”

He expects, however, to focus his stage work in London, were he starred last year in Howard Brenton’s “Never So Good” at the National Theatre.

For now, he’s grateful to have shared a brief period in New York with his wife, actress Sinead Cusack, who is now on tour after appearing in Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” and Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this winter. The couple has two grown sons — Samuel, a photographer, and Max, an actor.

Between jobs, Irons’ home is Western Ireland. Besides hunting, Irons sails, plays his guitar and has recently learned the Irish fiddle.

“I’ve never liked working for work’s sake,” Irons said. “I’m not one of these actors who has to keep working the whole time just to feel fulfilled. I have lots of other things I love doing.”

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/03/20/entertainment/e115937D33.DTL

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