Rehearsal and production photos of Max in Wallenstein at the Chichester Festival Theatre:
April 08, 2009
Jeremy Irons Revisits Brideshead
The original 1981 BBC miniseries Brideshead Revisited returns to television on here! TV, and Jeremy Irons — taking a break from starring on Broadway in Impressionism — takes a moment to revisit Brideshead. When Brideshead Revisited first aired on the BBC in 1981, it was truly a pioneering moment in film. Gay cinema had yet to be fully realized as a genre, the AIDS epidemic hadn’t yet ravaged the gay community, and Jeremy Irons wasn’t yet a household name. Brideshead instantly became a classic, and though the relationship between Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte didn’t dissolve into an explicit, sexual tryst, audiences read between the lines — and got a good deal more than cinema had offered up in the past. Brideshead returns to television this month on here! TV, and Irons — now not only a household name but an Academy Award– and Tony Award–winning actor — took some time out of his busy schedule starring opposite Joan Allen on Broadway in Impressionism to revisit Brideshead with Advocate.com.
Advocate.com: When Brideshead Revisited first aired, did you have any idea the impact the film would have on its gay audience?
Jeremy Irons: It was not something I especially considered. I hoped it would be enjoyed by everyone. I was most concerned to capture the relationship with Sebastian accurately, believing that [Evelyn] Waugh wrote it to be a close platonic relationship of the type not easily understood by audiences increasingly exposed to relationships that are either gay or straight. It was a pioneering bit of filmmaking at the time. Was there any backlash? No, there was no backlash at all. We were fortunate that it was, it seems, almost universally admired as a series that captured a particular time in English life.
Have you revisited Brideshead since making the film? Brideshead was filmed at Castle Howard in Yorkshire. The house belongs to friends of mine, so from time to time I’m invited back. For some of the time we filmed there I stayed at the house. I do remember one night when I returned late from a night out, and I had been told the alarms had been left off and was asked to turn them on before I went to bed. However, someone must have turned them on before my return, for as I opened the front door all hell broke loose with sirens, bells, and flashing lights. In my slightly inebriated state I could not work out what to do, so as the household began to appear down the stairs I slunk off to my bed. As I dropped off into sleep I heard the police cars and fire engines approaching down the drive, answering the false alarm. There were some long faces at breakfast the next morning!
You’ve never been one to shy away from controversial subject matter — Damage and M. Butterfly come to mind. Why do you think audiences so often equate controversy with sexuality? Controversy is often caused by sexuality, since sex remains still somewhat of a forbidden fruit for many audiences. It is, after all, something most of us keep quite private, and probably rightly so. However, I see no reason to shy away from any subject that film storytelling should discuss. Lolita probably caused the most controversy, but since it is a classic work, and beautifully made, I have no regrets.
You’re back on Broadway, working with Joan Allen in a play about art — and you just wrapped a film with her about the life of Georgia O’Keeffe. Have you two bonded over art, or is it just coincidence? It is pure coincidence that both the O’Keefe film and Impressionism are set around the art world, as it is that in both I play opposite Joan Allen. A happy coincidence since she happens to be one of America’s most interesting actors, and a wonderful person to boot.
What’s next for you? When the run of Impressionism ends I hope to go back to film for the rest of the year. I have a few projects lining up, though with the current economy, which affects film financing as much as anything, I shall be interested to see what makes it through.
Broadway and film star Jeremy Irons announced the second annual Theater Masters’ Visionary Award winners on Thursday, May 14th. at a press reception. The 2009 Visionary Award Winners are Maria Alexandria Beech and Zayd Dohrn with New York’s Primary Stages and The Dallas Theater Center as respective sponsoring theaters.
Winning playwrights are invited to attend Aspen Institute’s noted “Aspen Ideas Festival,” and are jointly commissioned by the nominating theatre and Theater Masters to write a full-length play that embraces timeless values and powerful issues.
Based in Aspen, Colorado, Theater Masters is a non-profit organization whose core mission is to seek and nurture the next generation of artists for the American Theatre and present their work. “Along with some of the country’s finest regional theatre artistic directors, we are identifying remarkable writers who are some of the finest young playwrights in this country and encouraging them to write a new play inspirited by attendance at the Aspen Ideas Festival ,” said Julia Hansen, Theater Masters founder and Artistic Director – and former President of New York’s Drama League. “In many ways how I started the Drama League’s “Director’s Project” is how I am now fostering new playwrights — by discovering new playwrights with sponsoring theaters and guaranteeing the writers that their work will be seen.”
Maria Alexandria Beech majored in Literature Writing at Columbia, where she completed an MFA in playwriting in 2007 as a recipient of the Williams Foundation Fellowship and the Dean’s Fellowship. She has had many of plays produced and performed in New York, including Breaking Walls (The Cherry Lane Theatre, Cherry Pit Late Nite Series), The Soft Room (Culture Project’s Impact Festival), Designer X, Your Face, and Bat In Iraq (presented by Blue Box Productions at Sticky at Blue), The Inventor Of Manatees (Flea Theatre as part of Stupid Plays). Her Spanish translation of The Cook, by Eduardo Machado, premiered at The Stages Theatre in Houston. In 2006 and 2007, Lima Beans, Breaking Walls, and Black Roses were semi-finalists in the Cherry Lane Mentor Project. Alex is a member of INTAR’s Hispanic Playwright in Residence Laboratory where she recently completed Gloria, which will receive two staged readings in Caracas, Venezuela in November. She is also a member of The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages Theatre in New York, where her play, Saving The Lives of Strangers, has been performed in two staged readings. In addition, a new version of Breaking Walls will be presented in a reading at Primary Stages in the spring, and Los Animales will be presented at the One Minute Play Festival in October.
Zayd Dohrn received his MFA from NYU and is currently a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard. His plays have been produced and developed at The Public Theater, Woolly Mammoth, Marin Theatre Company, South Coast Repertory, The Alliance, Kitchen Dog, Magic Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival, American Theater Company, Southern Rep, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, and New Jersey Rep. He is a recipient of Lincoln Center’s Lecomte du Nouy Prize, the Sky Cooper Prize, the Jean Kennedy Smith Award, an IRNE for Best New Play, and residencies with Ars Nova, Chautauqua, and The Royal Court Theatre of London.
In 2008, Theater Masters initiated the Visionary Playwrights Award, in partnership with the Aspen Institute and three of America’s top regional theaters: Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, La Jolla Playhouse in California, and Playwrights Horizons in NYC. .
Theater Masters Advisory Board includes: Chris Ashley, Alec Baldwin, Andre Bishop, Gordon Davidson, Scott Ellis, A.R. Gurney , Doug Hughes, Judy Kaye, Andrew Leynse, Samuel Liff, John Lithgow, Robert Moss, Brian Murray, Jack O’Brien, Neil Pepe and John Rando.
DD: How would you describe your own personal style of photography?
Sam Irons: My work focuses on the landscape in which we live, that often goes unremarked and overlooked, and attempts to defamiliarise it – hopefully touching on a little of the mystery inherent in everything around us.
DD: Why do you think you were selected by LPA futures?
Sam Irons: I would like to think that my take on the world is original yet contains something that others recognise.
DD: What are you inspired by and which photographers do you admire?
Sam Irons: I am inspired by not understanding the world, the process of perception and photography’s role in it. The Photographers I admire are those whose work seems to ask similar questions: William Eggleston, Jean-Marc Bustamente, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Wall (amongst others).
LPA Futures, Open to public from 14 May to 10 June 09 ThePrintSpace, 74 Kingsland Road, London E2 8DL