Jeremy Irons Fights to Ban HGVs from Watlington

From The Daily Mail

Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons in fight to ban lorries from his Oxfordshire town

  • The revered actor is leading Watlington Against Pollution and HGVs
    The group is fighting for a ban on lorries using the town as a rat-run
    Lorries regularly pass through on their way between the M4 and M40

He is a passionate campaigner on green issues, and now Jeremy Irons has backed a campaign to ban lorries from the quaint Oxfordshire town where he lives.

The Oscar–winning actor has thrown his weight behind an action group to prevent HGVs using the narrow streets of Watlington as a rat-run between the M40 and M4.

The market town – reputedly the smallest in the country – is regularly snarled up with lorries whose drivers, looking for a shortcut between Oxford and Reading, are directed there by their satnavs.

Watlington Against Pollution and HGVs plans to put pressure on local councils to take action against the out-of-place vehicles.

Irons, 65, star of Brideshead Revisited, lives in the picturesque town with his wife, Sinead Cusack, which has been used as the backdrop for ITV crime drama, Midsomer Murders.

Nestled between the Vale of Oxford and the steep slopes of the Chilterns, records show it was once the site of a Saxon settlement in the 8th century.

But Bronze Age axe and Roman coins have also been excavated, suggesting it has a much earlier past.

Keith Lovelace, the group’s chairman, said: ‘Jeremy Irons is a resident of Watlington and he feels strongly about it so it makes sense for him to be part of it.

‘We all know that if there is a celebrity behind a cause then it gets better publicity.

‘We have a lot of people behind us and we are determined to succeed.’

An air pollution report conducted earlier this year found that readings were similar to those recorded in the London borough of Lewisham.

This was due to the number of large vehicles and the tall buildings in narrow streets acting like a canyon affect, trapping it low to the ground.

Irons, who won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1991 for his portrayal of the fictional character Claus von Bülow in the Hollywood blockbuster, Reversal of Fortune, agreed to become patron after being made aware of the pressure group by his personal assistant, who was already a member.

Mr Lovelace said they understood the need for lorries to supply businesses and deliveries to homeowners, and the group is targeting passing HGVs.

One measure being looked at is to introduce a congestion charge scheme.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2455694/Jeremy-Irons-fights-ban-lorries-Oxfordshire-town-Watlington.html#ixzz2hY7sXvYn
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

Jeremy Irons – PBS Thirteen Pioneer

Jeremy Irons talks about first being a part of PBS in “Brideshead Revisited”…

Click on the link below to watch Jeremy’s video

http://video.kqed.org/video/2365077882/

Jeremy Irons to Appear at the Literary and Debating Society of NUI Galway

Jeremy Irons will participate in the Launch of the 167th Session of the Literary and Debating Society of NUI Galway.

When: 12 September 2013 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Where: The Kirwan Theatre – The Concourse – NUIG Galway

The Society is honoured to have Mr Jeremy Irons as the inaugural
speaker of the 167th session of the Society.

Mr Irons will be joined by British actor and television writer, Mr Rob Heyland and both men will address the Society on the responsibility of the privileged to help shape our societies.
The Auditor will chair the meeting and the address will be followed by a question and answer session leading into a period of Private Members’ Time.

Launch1-212x300

The following is from www.literaryanddebating.com :

With a background as a British television actor including The Professionals and One by One, Mr Rob Heyland turned his mind to observing and writing with involvement in such shows as Foyle’s War, Have Your Cake and Eat It and Ultimate Force. Regarded highly as a prolific social thinker, Mr Heyland’s insights and vision is something to look forward to.

With a career that has included The Lion King, The Man in the Iron Mask, Brideshead Revisited and The Borgias, Mr Jeremy Irons is hugely influential as a dignified and eloquent giant of screen. His
commitment to public discourse, his determination to stand publicly for person-focused society and his work with Evidence for Development make this event an exciting launch to a great session.

Come early as crowds are expected and places are limited.

Come along and let the games begin!

Jeremy Irons with The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Jeremy Irons joined Mark Kermode and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on 9 July 2013 for an evening of music from film.

Review: Mark Kermode & the CBSO, Film Music Live, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Jeremy Irons appeared alongside Mark Kermode in his 50th birthday celebratory concert on stage with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on 9 July at Symphony Hall Birmingham.

Jeremy’s film music choices:

Brideshead Revisited
French Lieutenant’s Woman
The Mission
Reversal of Fortune
Trashed

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jeremy Irons Interviewed by Backstage

Original article in German

backstage logo

Follow Backstage on Twitter: @Baeckstage_ch

Google translated from German:

Jeremy Irons:. “I sing only for friends or at the pub”

On the day of the gala premiere of “Night Train to Lisbon” Oscar winner Jeremy Irons met at the Bellevue Hotel in Bern for an interview. His immense presence was already being felt from a distance. Irons sat on a chair in front of the open balcony doors and smoking a cigarette when I entered the room. Without being asked then, Irons grabbed a chair and placed it next to his and put the receiving device on his right. This rootedness and openness, he also presented in the conversation about the Bernese nightlife. Miscast in his “Night Train to Lisbon” and his role in the TV series “Borgia”

Backstage: What memories do you have of the filming here in Bern last year?

Jeremy Irons: Oh, very happy memories. But short. We were only here for two days. Still, it was wonderful to come to Bern. I knew the city was not before. I also love cities that are located along rivers. I love these big, high bridges here and the architecture of the shops. The arcades are perfect because you despite snow and rain can enjoy the shopping. Yes, I have happy memories of Bern, very happy. And to the people. These certain slowness in Bern and the pleasant pace fascinated me. It stands in stark contrast to London and New York, where everything has to happen very quickly. People there do not have much time for each other. In Bern, this is totally different. Here you have time to chat and that’s very nice.

Backstage: Do you have the novel “Night Train to Lisbon”known before the film?

Jeremy: No, I had only heard of the novel, when I was asked to do the film. Then I read the book and loved it. When I was with the book, suddenly people came up to me and said, “This is my favorite book.” That was very strange, because I’ve never heard of it before. It is a very interesting book. It provides the readers questions like “What are you doing with your life? Is that what you want to do? ‘. These are very important and good questions, I think. I thought that it will be a difficult book to be implemented, since a lot of philosophy is contained therein. But Bille (Director August, editor’s note) has created a very concentrated version, I think, captures the spirit of the book. What is your feeling? How did you find it?

Backstage: Yes, it is a shortened and condensed version, some characters such as Florence or Fatima are not treated, but that does not make a big difference. The essence of the book is there.

Jeremy: Yes, the essence of the book is there, I think so.

Backstage: Some critics have but perhaps struggling with the fact that Gregorius – the hero of the story, which you embody – decides after only 15 minutes of play, to put up in the night train to Lisbon …

Jeremy: Yes, there are some things for which there is not enough time in the film. That’s the problem, you understand me?

Backstage: Absolutely. The film is a different medium than the book.

Jeremy: Exactly, it is a different object. I think it is not in a manner fair to compare the two. But it is legitimate to ask whether the one reflects the essence of the other. It is as if you have a diamond and a picture of the diamond in front of him. There are two completely different subjects, but the painting can give you a feel for the diamond? If it is a good painting, they do so perhaps. Ok, maybe that’s not a good analogy, but you know what I mean, it’s a different medium.

Backstage: Are you an amateur philosopher?

Jeremy: I think so, but I do not spend much time talking about philosophy, but when I stumble across it, I love it. In this way, I’m a little like Gregorius. What fascinates him about Amadeu’s book is, indeed, that he found written down ideas that were lying somewhere in his head. If we come across a book that in a figurative sense speaks our language, share our unformed thoughts, we feel connected to the book. Someone else has solidified our meandering thoughts. And that makes us naturally clear that we share a common humanity. The same fears and concerns. I love historical biographies and read many biographies, I like it noted that other people have encountered in their lives to the same thoughts and problems as I did in mine.

Backstage: What similarities do you have with Gregorius?

Jeremy: We have very few similarities. Every time I drive to work, I get on a night train to Lisbon. I find new people. I love to learn more about other people, explore new places and live in different worlds. So I make my living. But what Gregorius and I have in common is that we are the same (laughs). But we think differently. Although I often think of very boring, like Gregorius.

Backstage: Do you think that they were the right choice for Gregorius?

Jeremy: No, I do not think so. I think we do not see very similar. Gregorius I have a little older, balder and presented uncharismatic. And as an actor I think I have a certain charisma. This I had to suppress it for the role in some ways.

Backstage: Was that difficult?

Jeremy: Hmm, I think the one he needs a little bit of charisma, because it is also a love story and the audience has to be worth watching Gregorius. I hope that one of the reasons why I got the role, the one was that I feel very comfortable here, to play characters who do very little. So that viewers still see the change in him, even if I do not do great things. Through this production, I was reminded of how much can be achieved with small gestures. As an actor, you have to act sometimes less. Instead of playing a lot more you have to think about and somehow it adds also to the outside, as one is perceived. Years ago, I played in a series called “Brideshead Revisited” with. That figure was similar to Gregorius. Charles was a simple man who meets this wonderful aristocratic family and is absorbed by it. He was all the time the observer bringing the audience into the story, she let him feel the same. And so even Gregory does in this movie.

Backstage: You played so Gregorius, although it does not feel right for the character?

Jeremy: If I had a choice to make, I would not have chosen.

Backstage: Who you would cast in Gregorius?

Jeremy: Who I would choose? I do not know … maybe Rush… Anthony Hopkins, Geoffrey and William Hurt …

Backstage: How was it working with Bille August?

Jeremy: Wonderful. I’ve been using for Bille “House of Spirits” worked many years ago, so I knew him. And I liked it, liked the way he works. He is very accurate, fast and he is very polite. On his sets it’s going to always be very cheerful and so forth. He knows what he wants, unlike many directors who filmed everything going on it until the actors are tired and bored with the scenes. Bille has a good flavour, it matches the illustrations in small ways, so that it all fits together and works. You can trust him, so I enjoy working with him. For me there is a better director.

Backstage: And how was it working with the other actors?

Jeremy: Also wonderful because all the actors are very good. Unfortunately, I have not shot with the youngsters, but my God, we were very lucky, just think of Bruno Ganz. Or Martina Gedeck, an actress I’ve seen in “The Lives of Others” and that impressed me greatly. I met her in Budapest when I was there she made ​​a film with Istvan Szabo (The Door, editor’s note). We spent a little time and I really liked her. As they would then suggested for the part of Mariana, I found this fantastic. Charlotte Rampling, is also a good actress, with whom I had previously been worked. And Portuguese actor, whose name I can not remember just not the one who plays the hotel owner. I love him, we had a lot of fun on set. Lena Olin, another leading actress, with whom I played in “Casanova.” When you work with so many good actors, it is so easy to. It really adds to the enjoyment. They were very happy filming, which is rare, but this shoot was really nice.

Backstage: You could also visit very beautiful places …

Jeremy: Absolutely. I love Portugal, but I was the last time for the filming of “House of Spirits” there. But this time around. To a completely different part, in the historic centre of Lisbon, which is very crumbly, romantic and simply wonderful We can shoot for this very lucky, it is not always so nice.

Backstage: Gregory is a teacher at the Bern Kirchenfeld High School. If you were a teacher, what subject would you teach?

Jeremy: Well, I would probably teach drama as this is my job. Strangely, I wish in a way that we would teach all one afternoon a week something. They spend an afternoon, for example, about journalism, or tell about writing. So we could pass our enthusiasm for our work to the children. I think that teachers do a great job with everything they do and how they do it year after year. I think everyone has something in his life that he can pass on to students that to help children gain a better understanding of life. I think this should be something that we offer to the children on a regular basis.

Backstage: Your latest TV production is a series called “Borgias”. Do you think the episode is interesting shape for a performer, because the characters have more and longer time for deployment?

Jeremy: This is the joy, exactly. I have now shot 30 hours of “The Borgias”, which are about 15 films with the same character. The challenges to the rise in screenplays. It is important to ensure that the books are not simply be a repetition of the events in different ways, but the characters are expanded and share an inconsistency that makes it really interesting too. Because we are all just inconsistent and we behave in our being. Shakespeare, for example, was a poet who brought this issue to their best advantage. Characters in movies are usually more stable, less in books where there are more opportunities for inconsistencies. Inconsistency allows it to display an actor depths and the true reality. There is therefore a great privilege for me to play in this series. Alexander is also a very interesting one, an exceptionally broad man, a great administrator, a man of God, but also a man with enormous sensual appetites. Mix all of these facets together to be able to make me a lot of fun.

Backstage: Soon again you come out with a movie, “Beautiful Creatures.” What can we expect?

Jeremy: I was told that the movie to “Twilight” genre is one, but I have “Twilight” is not seen, so I can not say exactly. My son Max has (written by “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer, editor’s note) is also a movie called “The Host”, which also belongs to this genre. In “Beautiful Creatures” I play the father figure Macon Ravenwood. He is described as incubus, but I’m honestly not quite sure what is meant by an incubus (An incubus is a kind of strange dream-eating demon, editor’s note). He is someone who has been, as it was required of him, as it’s just so many people. The story takes place in South Carolina in the United States. Macon is a man who lives alone and is happy here. A gentleman of great style, wit and knowledge. But the story is basically a love story between two young people.

Backstage: Christopher Lee confessed in an interview today that he’s releasing a heavy metal album.

Jeremy: Did he really?

Backstage: Yes. He is represented with his vocals on it. What about you? Can you imagine for a music album or sing for a musical such as “Les Miserables”?

Jeremy: I think my voice is not good enough for that (laughs). The actors in “Les Misérables” all have an excellent voice. But I used to sing a little when I was younger. In musical theater productions. But when I last sang? (Thinks). I made a recording of “My Fair Lady” with Kiri Te Kanawa, but now it was years ago. Today I sing only for friends or pub.

Backstage: Will we hear you sing today in Bern at a pub?

Jeremy: I’m afraid, but I have not enough time (laughs). Is there really a lot of good music in Bern Local?

Backstage: No, unfortunately there are not that many for himself singing, actually practically not a single good place to eat.

Jeremy: Are you serious?

Backstage: Bern is unfortunately no “Nightlife City” …

Jeremy: So not much of nightlife in Bern? I thought so. I remember when I came here for the first time and then someone asked if Bern is a party town. Having been told the following: “However, we all have a good time here. If it’s nice outside, we sit in front of the cafes and drink “and I was like,” Ok, understood “(laughs).

Jeremy Irons in ‘Cigar Aficionado’ Magazine

Jeremy Irons is featured in the March/April 2013 issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine.

This magazine is a must own for any Jeremy Irons fan. Be sure to buy a copy at your local news stand, book seller or cigar store.

Here are scans and photographs of the magazine. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images and read the text.

All images © Cigar Aficionado Magazine [Text by Marshall Fine - Portraits by Jim Wright] No copyright infringement intended.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Conversation: Uncovering the Bard with Jeremy Irons

View the original blog posting HERE.

Follow Jeffrey Brown on Twitter @JeffreyBrown

Follow PBS News Hour Art Beat on Twitter @NewsHourArtBeat

“Shakespeare Uncovered: Henry IV & Henry V with Jeremy Irons” airs Friday at 10 p.m. ET. Check your local listings.

JEFFREY BROWN: Welcome again to Art Beat. I’m Jeffrey Brown. Now on PBS, a series titled “Shakespeare Uncovered,” six films telling the stories behind some of the Bard’s greatest plays. The series is hosted by some pretty hefty talent, including Ethan Hawke, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn and Jeremy Irons, certainly one of our great actors of time, from when many us first met him on “Brideshead Revisited” — also on PBS, by the way — up to currently “The Borgias,” with many film and stage performances in between and many no doubt more on the way. Jeremy Irons joins us now by phone from Los Angeles, and welcome to you.

JEREMY IRONS: Hello, nice to talk to you.

JEFFREY BROWN: Your involvement in this series came about in part because you were playing Henry.

JEREMY IRONS: Yes, the director got in touch with me, Richard Denton, saying, ‘I want to make a documentary about the Henrys — Henry IV, I and II and Henry V.’ I was rather intrigued, a little confused because I had been involved the films of Henry IV, parts one and two, which go out, I think, in September. For me Henry IV was very personal at that time. I was living the character, and the documentary would involve me watching and commenting on other performances that have been recorded in the past.

JEFFREY BROWN: So you were right into this question, because these films on PBS are really about the story behind the story, the characters. What drew you to wanting to play Henry?

JEREMY IRONS: It’s very interesting, because on stage it’s not a part I would have been attracted to, but in order to put them into two hours of film you have do some judicious cutting, and if an experienced director does that — Richard Eyre used to run the National Theatre in London and he’s a very experienced man in Shakespeare. He had done a wonderful cut, which I think advantaged the character of Henry IV, who normally on the stage you aren’t able as an audience to get inside his predicament in quite the same way that you can on film, having the camera coming close to you so that you can communicate in a much more complicated way than you can often on the stage, where you’re often stuck in the back on a throne having to speak a lot more dialog than is in the film, often describing what we can show in the film because we can go onto location as we did.

JEFFREY BROWN: And that character, the father, is a little more distant than the son, right? The son is up front and sort of in our face all the time.

JEREMY IRONS: That’s right. Although it’s about kings and princes, it’s actually quite a domestic play. It’s a play about a young man growing up — Prince Hal — about his friends who are quite a little bit degenerate, Falstaff, a sort of heavy drinking, heavy whoring aristocrat who spends most of his time in the pub with some pretty dissolute friends, and the young man being attracted to that sort of wildness even though he’s going to have to become king when his father dies, and his father watching this with growing depression, with growing upset. The play really is about a young man developing and the relationship with his father and with his friends. In the play you tend to concentrate on Hal and Falstaff, who are the brightest characters. The father, the king, is this sort of boring old chap who mutters on and wants him to be a better son, but you don’t get inside the intricacies of the father’s mind in quite the same way. I think on film it was a much more attractive character for me to play than it would have been on stage.

JEFFREY BROWN: What’s the key to getting right, or where do people often go wrong in trying to capture Shakespeare?

JEREMY IRONS: I think you’ve got to have a facility with the language. You’ve got to know the language and be used to speaking it in such way that it can almost sound colloquial to an audience. You’ve got to get inside that to find out where the character is, what he’s feeling, because that’s what you want to transmit to the audience through the words. I think often the words in a way get in the way, whereas they should enlarge the understanding for the audience, but sometimes they just put them off. I suppose as an actor what you do is you look at the text rather like you might look at crossword clues to find out what those clues tell you about the truth of how the person is feeling. So it probably needs more research, more work before you perform than some writers.

JEFFREY BROWN: One of the things that comes through in that film is that the idea of the theater as a place where people got their history and their news of the day, even though these plays weren’t necessarily all that accurate.

JEREMY IRONS: Yeah, it was the way certainly to transmit ideas, and Shakespeare is often more interested in transmitting emotions and ideas and often domestic situations, relationships, emotional relationships. A classic example is “Antony and Cleopatra,” which is set in Egypt with the great Antony, the great Roman general, the queen of the Nile Cleopatra, but it’s not really about that. It’s about a failing and fading relationship between two older people. That’s really what it’s about, but set against this rather romantic and glorious and historical background. What, of course, the documentaries do is to open up and I hope demystify for the audience these plays, to show them what Shakespeare was drawing on, the situation that existed when the plays were first played, and what people cared about, why he was writing them, where his source material was coming from. I think so many people met Shakespeare at school where maybe it was taught rather badly –

JEFFREY BROWN: Forced on them, right?

JEREMY IRONS: Forced on them, that’s right. And they have a bit of a block about it. And what we hoped that “Shakespeare Uncovered” would do is to remove that block, to open it, to open the windows, let the air into these plays, so that when they came to see them later in the year — when I hope maybe the documentaries will be repeated just to remind people — they would make it far easier for them to become really emotionally involved in the stories.

JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you finally about yourself as an actor. I’m now one of the people following “The Borgias,” which looks like great fun for you.

JEREMY IRONS: People keep telling me that: It looks like great fun for you. I hope that’s not a criticism.

JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, not at all. But I’m wondering how you pick roles nowadays, whether it’s Shakespeare or the pope, the Borgia pope or whatever you are doing now. At this point in your life what sort of grabs you and makes you want to take on a role?

JEREMY IRONS: It’s always a gut feeling of appetite. Shakespeare is somebody I like to return to so often because he’s one of our greatest writers, if not our greatest. The Borgias I was very attracted to because it’s being written and produced by Neil Jordan, who is a filmmaker of note. I find that a lot of the best writing is happening on cable television in America, and many of the films that I would have been making are now very difficult to finance, and a lot of the talent that went into those films is now writing for television. In the old days if you were a film actor, you wouldn’t work on television. Now that’s not so, because actors have a great instinct for good writing and good stories. That’s where we go to work and that was one of the reasons I wanted to work on “The Borgias.” I thought it’s an extraordinary family, this Spanish family who comes to Rome two generations before, a very ambitious man. He becomes pope. Of course pope in those days was much more like a king than a pope, what we now think of as a pope. There were power struggles, there was a very different sort of morality. The more I read about the family and about the man, I thought this is extraordinary, because a lot doesn’t add up. Let’s try and find out how he got the reputation he did, how this family got the reputation it did in history.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, well the PBS series is titled “Shakespeare Uncovered.” Jeremy Irons, thanks so much for talking to us, nice to talk to you.

Jeremy Irons on ‘Desert Island Discs’

Jeremy’s second appearance on BBC Radio 4’s “Desert Island Discs” from Sunday 5 February 2006 is now available on iTunes for FREE!

Click on the image below to download on iTunes:

[The iTunes version just plays clips of the songs Jeremy has chosen, due to licensing issues. That is the reason that the iTunes broadcast is slightly shorter than the version on the BBC website. The interview portion with Jeremy is unedited.]

———————————————————————————————-

Introduction from the BBC website:

Sue Lawley’s castaway this week is the actor Jeremy Irons.

He made his name playing Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited in 1981 and became known for his quintessentially English roles. It was an image he later sought to discard and he certainly did so in the film Lolita, where his portrayal of Humbert Humbert reopened the controversy about the desires of a middle-aged man for a 14-year old girl. In the film The Mission he played a gentle Jesuit missionary and went on to act as his own stuntman, climbing a perilous waterfall. It was his performance in Reversal of Fortune that won him an Oscar for Best Actor as the real-life character Claus Von Bulow, accused and acquitted of the attempted murder of his wife. Later this month, he returns to the West End stage after almost 20 years to star in the play Embers, a story of friendship and betrayal.

———————————————————————————————-

The full, unedited version of Jeremy’s “Desert Island Discs” episode is also available to listen to or to download to keep from the BBC 4 Website.  There you can also read the details of his first appearance on “Desert Island Discs” on Sunday 2 November 1986, but it is not available to listen to.

Jeremy’s song choices:

Favourite track: “One step at a Time” by Clifton Chenier
Book: Ashley Books of Knots by Clifford Ashley

 

Luxury: Rizla liquorice papers

———————————————————————————————

Sinead Cusack’s appearance from Sunday 15 December 2002 on “Desert Island Discs” is also available through iTunes and the BBC website.  Her first appearance, from Saturday 28 May 1983 is also detailed on the BBC website, but is not available to listen to.

 

Jeremy Irons attends Cleopatra: Northern Ballet

Jeremy Irons attends the press night of Cleopatra: Northern Ballet at Sadlers Wells on May 17, 2011 in London, England.

Just Like You Imagined – NY Magazine

Just Like You Imagined

Jeremy Irons plays himself very well.

Photo by Matt Carr/Getty Images

By Jada Yuan
Published Mar 27, 2011

Read the original article HERE

Jeremy Irons is laughing heartily outside Le Bilboquet on East 63rd Street, surrounded by attentive females. It’s a cold day, but he seems oblivious to the chill as he sips an afternoon Kir Royale and languidly smokes a hand-rolled cigarette. You approach and introduce yourself. He springs up, grabbing both your arms, and stands back to appraise you. At 62, he still possesses a liquid-eyed hotness. He cheek-kisses good-bye his coterie of women (publicists, managers, friends—it’s unclear), lays his hand on your shoulder, and gently guides you through the bistro door, all the while staring deeply into your eyes, so absorbed that he is halfway through the room before he realizes he forgot to put out his cigarette. With apologies, he takes his leave amid a chorus of dismay. “Are you kidding? He can smoke wherever he wants! He’s so cool!” says one entranced male diner, upon whom Irons bestows a two-palmed handshake before stepping outside to carefully deposit his cigarette butt in a trash bin.

Jeremy Irons is just so Jeremy Irons—that is to say, the man of flesh is very much the man of your fantasies. He doesn’t so much occupy space as consume it. Eyes follow him, then stare, rapt. And Irons, something of an attention hog, plays to his audience. He chooses the corner that allows him to face out and survey the room as it surveys him right back.

Irons calls out for a round of “Château Bloomberg” (a.k.a. tap water), “straight from the East River!” He has, he declares, “turned vigorously against the mayor because of the new law [banning] smoking in parks or on the beach, which I think is ludicrous and a terrible bullying of a minority that cannot speak back.” Irons, his teeth a testament to a life of indulgences, believes smokers ought to be protected like “handicapped people and children.” Though he clearly relishes declamation, he is getting notably heated over a law that is very briefly touching his life. The actor spends most of his time in an Oxfordshire village or at Kilcoe, an actual ­fifteenth-century castle (“You’d call it a keep,” he clarifies) on a bay in Ireland. Kilcoe’s ­hundred-foot, lovingly restored towers help to explain a spate of early-aughts parts in “sub–Lord of the Rings stuff” like Dungeons & Dragons. “It’s the shit you do,” he says, to “pay for another six months.”

Irons is in New York to reprise a guest role as a sex addict turned sex therapist on Law & Order: SVU (airing March 30) and to publicize his new Showtime show The Borgias (debuting April 3), a part he took at the behest of his friend Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), who wrote the series and directed the first two episodes. Irons plays Pope Alexander VI, despite having zero resemblance to the real man—an enormous, hook-nosed Spaniard with an insatiable appetite for corruption, food, women, and murdering his enemies. “I Googled Rodrigo Borgia, and he’s a voluptuary,” says the actor. “And I said, ‘I think I’m a bit of an ascetic, really, for that.’ And Neil said, ‘No, no, no. Because it’s all about power and what power does to you and how you deal with it. And you can play all that.’ ”

Yes, powerful and dark, Irons can do. He broke out as a heartthrob in the BBC series Brideshead Revisited, then romanced Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. But by his forties, he was playing against his good looks, choosing dangerous, even creepy characters—like the twin gynecologists in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers and Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune, for which he won his Oscar.

In his Borgias role, an outsider beset by a Roman aristocracy bent on destroying him, Irons sees parallels with Barack Obama. “Just look at the gossip about your current president being from Africa or being a Muslim,” he says. “Alexander was getting all of that.” On the other hand, Irons thinks Alexander had it easier than another of our presidents. “The medievalists would see the reaction to Clinton, for instance, and the cigars, as being deeply prohibitive. He’s a man! We ought to forgive and say, ‘Yeah, he’s got a lot of testosterone, and he’s great at what he does, and he loves a bit of lady, and there you go.’ We see all these marriages breaking because they’re under intolerable strains, because we expect to get all our happiness from our husband or our wife. Impossible! How can you get that from one other person? I don’t want a saint to be my leader. And maybe his wife after fifteen years won’t be able to provide everything he needs. That’s fine. That’s life.”

Irons’s wife of 33 years, the actress ­Sinéad Cusack, is apparently fine with this; no doubt she’s used to her husband’s decrees—including his disdain for organized religion (she is a practicing Catholic): “I don’t really approve of religion … I’m not quite sure the relevance Christianity has.” Their son Max, 25 (brother to Sam, 32), is currently starring in Red Riding Hood. Irons hasn’t seen the film, but he did catch the Jimmy Kimmel appearance in which Max talked about his eternal embarrassment over his dad’s driving around in a horse and buggy in the town where he grew up. Irons smiles indulgently. The father is resigned to letting the son find his own way. “I hope he never gets out of touch with theater, and I hope he doesn’t get too seduced by the money and all that,” says Irons. “I wish him well. But it’s always, for any parent, a slightly heart-in-the-mouth situation when you see your child climbing a rock face.”

Should The Borgias come back after the first season, the actor is committed to the series for five months out of the year, perhaps for three or four years. He is aware of and on guard against the lusty tendencies of cable TV’s costume dramas: “I know there are some series where there is a bit of history and a bit of fucking and a bit of history and a bit of fucking,” he says. “I think [Showtime] would have liked to have made it even more about that, but I wouldn’t want to be involved in something that’s just as obviously … You know, if you want fucking, there’s a lot of other channels.” (For the record, there is still quite a lot of fucking in The Borgias.)

As he’s telling me about his desire to play King Lear (“The next fifteen years, I’ll be right for it. And the next ten, I’ll be able to remember my lines”), a man approaches to ask if Irons would mind posing with his giggling female companion. The actor lets out an exasperated sigh. It is the first indication that being Jeremy Irons might be a bit of work. Then it’s gone, the Irons of your imagination returns, and it’s impossible to tell if his annoyance was real or feigned. He looks up at the woman, leaning awkwardly over him, and wraps his arm around her waist: “You’re falling over. Come and sit down. Just don’t show it to my wife. Ha. Ha. Pleasure. My ­pleasure.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,366 other followers