Max Irons on dynasties and The White Queen – The Times

Max Irons is featured in The Times from Thursday 15 August 2013.

The full article is for Times subscribers only and can be found HERE.

However, the text of the article can be read on the photos below. Click to enlarge them to full size:

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Max Irons – Red Riding Hood Round Table Interview

Read the full original interview ‘Red Riding Hood’ Round Table Interview – Maahin’s Report from Blogomatic3000

Here’s the excerpt with Max’s interview:

Then we spoke to Max Irons, who plays Henry, the boy Valerie is engaged to.

Is it difficult to make the first steps as an actor, with parents (Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack) and grandparents (both of his mother’s parents were actors) like you have?

Max Irons: I don’t think it is any more or less difficult with them, if I’m honest. People have their own opinions, which vary from country to country. In this country we have a heightened awareness of nepotism as an idea. Realistically, I don’t think you’re going to get a job because of it. There’s too much money invested, director’s reputations – I don’t think it works that way.

Does it help though?

MI: Perhaps there are casting agents out there, who would say I will meet them because of it. But then again, if you go in there and do a rubbish job, you’re finished. And they’ll remember.

You won an award for Wallenstein, but even though you’re making movies, would you do theatre again?

MI: Actually, the next thing I want to do is theatre. I mean Schiller is one my favourite playwrights of all time. I wanted to do Louis Miller, but I couldn’t do it because I was away. But yeah, theatre, more of it.

Do you prefer theatre to film?

MI: Well no, I’m so lucky, and overjoyed to be in a movie, especially with the calibre of actors we’ve got in this. But in terms of what I enjoy most, is theatre without a doubt. It doesn’t pay as well, and not as many people see it, so my agents tell me not to do it. Just being able to go through the story every night is exhilarating. It also requires you to live a certain way, a kind of ordered life. You feel good doing it. And if it’s a good play, it should complete you.

Did you ever get a line of advice from mum or dad before you took up acting?

MI: They’ve always said to me to keep an eye on what’s important. The work, the acting, that’s important. The rest is consequential. You know, the photo shoots, to a certain sense, the press, and for lack of a better term, celebrity. That’s all consequential.

Did you ever not want to do what your parents do? Did you ever want to be something boring?

MI: I wanted to be a fighter pilot, for a long time. I have encyclopaedic knowledge of aeroplanes, I don’t know I just do. Then I realized you have to kill people, which is a bit of a downer. But no there was no active rebellion against it. But I have parents who don’t particularly like the superficial element of being an actor, and keep away from it.

Did you consider changing your name?

MI: In the world we live in today, with the Internet, if someone wanted to find out who your parents are, they could. Also I’m not ashamed of them. I’m very proud of them. When people say, oh you want to follow in their footsteps, I find it strange because what you kind of want to do is forge your own path, but at the same time acknowledging his.

When you see them acting is it easy to see them as actors, or do you always see them as your parents?

MI: I think I always see them as actors, which speaks for them as actors. There are certain things I don’t want to see, like the sex scenes. Occasionally you stumble onto them, it’s very uncomfortable viewing.

Do they ever give you any pointers on how to work?

MI: It’s a bit like parents giving you driving lessons, you know they’re right, but you want to tell them to shut up. But if I’m going to Los Angeles to meet people, they will tell me what to expect, or what a screen test involves.

Has there been a movie recently, which really impressed you?

MI: A movie I saw this year, which is the kind of movie I’d like to do most, The Social Network. Just because the writing was so good. Great cast, great director, great script – what more do you need.

And what’s next?

MI: Who knows, I’m weighing up my options. Theatre, ideally.

Max Irons in Harper’s Bazaar UK

Red Riding Hood star Max Irons talks to Bazaar’s Stephanie Rafanelli about wolves, nudity and his famous dad

Max Irons and I are playing The Guessing Game; in this case, over the identity of the lycanthrope killer in the 25-year-old actor’s debut feature Red Riding Hood, a gothic thriller adapted from the original fairy tale. So, who is the werewolf? Is it him, Red Riding Hood’s (Amanda Seyfried) betrothed; or the woodcutter she really loves? The suspiciously hairy wolfhunter (Gary Oldman). Or in an implausible twist, Julie Christie, the tales’ sagacious matriarch? “I cooould be the werewolf. I’m definitely a werewolf suspect!” he chuckles, his eyes widening at the mere thought of such a betrayal. “Okay. I’m the werewolf! Red Riding Hood’s the werewolf! Everybody’s the werewolf!”

Tranquil, post-11am roll-up, Irons stares hypnotically into the log fire at Blacks in Soho; his carved cheekbones and distant jade eyes, with the potential to slip into anguish or fervour, a clue to his genetic inheritance (he is the youngest son of thespian heavyweights Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack; and the grandson of Cyril Cusack, Julie Christie’s 1966 Fahrenheit 451 co-star). It is a heady cocktail that director Catherine Hardwicke, the woman responsible for Robert Pattison’s appearance in Twilight (spawning mass hormonal surges amongst the global pubescent population), clearly responded to. Especially as her reinvention of the fairy tale, one of the first in a spate of upcoming films, promises to be as rife with smouldering teen eroticism as the hitherto dominant Vampire genre. “I heard that Robert got chased down the street in Paris in his car, before the film even came out. Two black eyebrows rise, sardonically, to form a triangle in perfect symmetry. “I really don’t think it will come anything close to that.”

Though his name recalls a strident comic strip hero, by contrast, he is gently self-effacing (“American actors are all muscular, tanned, white teeth and they have this indestructible confidence. We British are all…Dare I say it? Pessimistic”). He is also somewhat apologetic both for the brands he is sporting (Dior boots, and a Prada Jacket – scruffed beyond recognition) as for his turns as a model, during his drama student years, in Mango (2007) and Burberry’s 2008 ad campaigns. “It was about 7am Saturday morning. I’m living in this basement bedsit with no fucking kitchen and barely a window. Smells of death. My phone goes off and someone says do you want to be shot by Mario Testino with Kate Moss. I didn’t have an agent so I said yup!” He fidgets uncomfortably. “That campaign has haunted me a bit. It has a smell of ‘you’ll do anything to be in front of the camera’.”

Like his father before him, Irons is wary of trading on his looks (the veteran actor rose to fame in The French Lieutenants’ Woman and Brideshead Revisited in 1981 thereafter avoiding being cast as the dashingly decadent love interest) or being hyped by the Hollywood machine. “Actors like Rebecca Hall and Andrew Garfield don’t play the celebrity game. You don’t even know who they go out with. Once you become the story off-screen, you are less likely to be the onscreen one.” But his brief track record already suggests that he is an actor of a similar mould. He received critical acclaim for Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending A Staircase, and was nominated, alongside Hall, for the Ian Charleson Award in 2009 for his work in Wallenstein at Chichester Festival Theatre. (Hall and Irons became acquainted on tour with Sinead Cusack in Sam Mendes’ the Bridge Project that year: “After the last performance in Greece, everyone went skinny-dipping naked, drinking vodka including my mother I think”)

Puffy-eyed from jetlag from a recent “charm offensive” meeting agents in LA, Irons is on a four-day London stopover (which included presenting a BAFTA’s with Eva Green). A few weeks ago, he bumped into Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes. “I spent time with her when my dad was filming House of the Spirits, and her daughter Gracie and I shared the same tutor. She’d recognised me and came up to me. I was so, so touched.”

Growing up, Irons divided his time between Oxfordshire and his parents stage and film locations; though he was too young to witness his father’s favourite film.“I watched The Mission again on a plane to LA recently and I was in floods of tears. My older brother, Sam, was there, and they spent six months living with the villagers. I mean, Christ – what an amazing time.”

As a teenager his holidays were spent in Country Cork where, in 2000 his father bought and renovated Kilcoe Castle (“Err well it’s more like two towers joined together.”): “He’s become like a local.” He shakes his head.”He does this steeplechase where they stop on their horses at the pub every hour for a pint. Imagine what it’s like at the end of the day. Jumping over huge stone walls, going through rivers. They’re all pissed. It’s crazy.”

With such global adventures under his belt, has he inherited his father’s gung-ho spirit? “I’ve got my dad’s height and smoking habit. But I think I’ve got my mum’s looks and sensibilities.” He smiles warmly. “My dad’s very outspoken. He’ll say what he thinks. We’ve had some fruity political arguments across the kitchen table. They are both quite political, but mum more so. She’s very active [she is president of the Burma Campaign UK] and I seriously love that.” Iron’s half-brother Richard Boyd Barratt is also a political activist, like his biological mother Cusack, with whom he was re-united, around seven years ago, after she gave him up for adoption in 1968. “It wasn’t really that she‘gave him up for adoption.’ He was taken away by the Catholic Church; as was the way in those days, because she conceived out of wedlock.” Irons explains. “It was only in around 2004 when the Irish government ordered the Church to make the details of these adoptions available. I think within a week of that happening they’d been reunited. It’s amazing. And they’re so similar and they get on so well considering they missed 43 years of each other’s lives.”

Such is the rich heritage of Max Irons, filled with moving real life epics as well as thespian and cinema classics: a mighty well from which to draw inspiration in his future acting career (and from Irons’ fledgling projects, one senses there will be a future…). For now, he is adding the finishing touches to Runaways, a six part series for Sky One set in Seventies Soho. “The Italians and Irish gangsters are fighting for control of the sex district. I play this kid who ends up O-Ding nastily on a concoction of cocaine, amphetamines and vodka,” he winces. “But I get to wear flares and kind of woollen tanks tops [laughs]. I’ve got really shit hair though. I had to have a perm!.” He has two secret Hollywood projects in the fire (“If I told you, I’d have to kill you”), after which, Irons is keen to return to the stage. “Donmar. Royal Court. Okay. Put that in.” He leans forward and enunciates into the dictaphone. “I’ll do anything. Naked. Anything! Equus – I’ll do it.” And with that, he quickly pulls out a pack of tobacco, deftly crafts a cigarette (“I’m gagging for one”), before sauntering off into Dean Street. For sure, a roll-up is the only thing Irons need be desperate for right now.

Max Irons in BlackBook Magazine

Read the original article HERE.

Max Irons on Breaking Into Acting, His Famous Parents & Being Discovered by Mario Testino

by Ben Barna

April 8, 2011

When Max Irons turned 17, his parents issued him the following warning: a career in film is brutal, filled with paranoia, jealousy, and financial potholes. They were, he was told, the exceptions to the rule. “Don’t look at us and think it will necessarily be the same for you,” he says, recalling their sound advice. “99.9% of actors are unemployed, or are employed, but not as they’d like. Look at them more than you look at us.” Like any self-respecting teenager, Irons ignored their wisdom. “When they saw I was serious about acting,” he says, “they backed off.” 0digg

Irons’ mother and father, actors Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack, have appeared in more than 100 films combined. Now 25 years old and a professional actor, Irons grew up in the theater, with talk around the dinner table often centering on who was likely to win an Oscar that year. “It would be naive to say they had nothing to do with it,” Irons says of the relationship between his famous parents and his own acting ambitions. “I was exposed to it and developed an interest.”

Acting became more than a pastime for Irons when, after a stint at a UK boarding school marked by “smoking, drinking, and girls,” he traveled to Nepal, where he spent six months teaching the craft to street kids. When he returned home, he was accepted to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, all but guaranteeing himself an agent upon graduation. In Hollywood, however, a young actor also needs looks, and it was Mario Testino who confirmed Irons’ heartthrob potential. The famed fashion photographer stopped Irons on the street and offered him work, a twist of fate that led to his starring in a Burberry campaign opposite Kate Moss.

But it was director Catherine Hardwicke—a connoisseur of smoldering Brits—who gave Irons his true break when the Twilight director cast him in Red Riding Hood, her CGI-enhanced retelling of the classic folktale. As the blacksmith Henry, Irons is one part of a love triangle that features a woodcutter (Shiloh Fernandez) and the title character, played by Amanda Seyfried. As a result, before anyone has even seen his performance, Irons has been busy in meetings with studio bigwigs. Is he ready for his close-up? “You can’t get hypnotized by someone offering you a lot of money or saying they’ll make you famous,” he says. “None of the photo shoots, parties, and flattery means anything. You have to remind yourself that what you do is act, and that’s all that matters.”

Was acting something you wanted to do from a young age?
I’d always tried to get into plays, but I was dyslexic as a kid and so it was kind of difficult, because they’d give you a script and say, Get on stage and do an audition. For a dyslexic kid that’s impossible, it’s a minefield of problems. It took a bit of time before I had the courage to say, Let me go and learn this. And I suppose I was about 15 when I started getting roles, and we have this thing at my school that’s a festival, and I did a play and I just thought, This is as much fun as you can legally have. And then I applied to drama school, which is quite a competitive business in England, and I managed to get it, and it boosted my confidence a little bit. It was a gradual thing, there was no epiphany moment.

Did you grow up watching your parents, and did that have an influence on your decisions?
You know, it’s a funny one, because it’s a double-edged sword. My parents were always gone, and I was always at boarding school, so I didn’t really see what they did actively. I didn’t naturally gravitate toward watching their work, because when I was young it felt weird.

I also read something about Mario Testino plucking you off the street?
I was nineteen and I was coming back from the DVD store with my girlfriend. We always used to have fights at the store, and I was on one side of the street, and she was on the other, and we were yelling at each other when this big, black SUV pulls up and this guy got out and he said, “Hello, I’m Mario.” And I said, “Hello,” and he said, “I’m a photographer and I’d quite like for you to come in for a meeting,” and I said, “Okay, thank you very much,” and he got back in his car and drove off. I thought it was weird, and my girlfriend came across the street and I told her it was a photographer called Mario who looked a bit like Tom Stoppard, and she said, “That’s Mario Testino.” Then I went into meet him and he put me in this Vogue thing, and a couple of months later I did Burberry.

Now that you’re in the movie business, how do you view all the duties that come along with it? Are they secondary?
It’s very interesting and nice that you say that because it kind of is. You have to catch yourself, especially when you find yourself fussing over what to wear to a Vanity Fair shoot, when actually what you do for a living is act. None of the photo shoots and none of the parties and none of the flattery that you receive in interviews mean anything. It’s just hot air and part of a system that’s bigger than you.

Are there any steps you’re going to take to make sure you have a lasting career?
You’ve got to be careful and not being hypnotized by someone offering you a lot of money or saying they’re going to make you very famous. I think also there’s an attitude around Hollywood at the moment of young, disposable talent that kind of turns up, gets shot up with arguably more money than they deserve, and then burn out quickly. And that’s not what you want. Fortunately, I’ve got agents and people around me that are all on the same page.

But essentially the decision is yours to make.
It is, yeah. I got a script to read the other day which was another fairly tale, and I would have been kind of right, but you can’t do it because you’ve just done one, and if you do another one, you’ll be known as that guy. So even though it was a different studio and offered a bit of money, you have to say no sometimes. You have to think in those terms.

Photography by Rene Dupont.

Red Riding Hood UK Press Junket

Thank you to Shiloh Fernandez Source for the video links:

Red Riding Hood Press Conference Audio

Via Amanda Seyfried Fan – the audio from the March 2011 Press Conference for Red Riding Hood, held in Hollywood, CA.

Irons Man Two: Max Irons

Max Irons is featured in the London Evening Standard in an article from 11 March 2011, by Richard Godwin.  Photographs by Hamish Brown.

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Max Irons walks into a West London café dressed in a slim black overcoat, smelling slightly of tobacco. You can tell he’s a bit of a rebel as he is brazenly drinking from a carton of Ribena. For some reason – his regally handsome looks? family connections? – the waitresses don’t seem to mind.

I had been warned that Irons – 25-year-old model, actor and son of Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack – would be rather shy, but, on the contrary, he’s wholly self-assured. He talks about his dyslexia, which was so bad he couldn’t write his name at eight; his expulsion from boarding school for getting caught in flagrante with his girlfriend just before his A levels; what it was like watching his dad have sex with a minor on screen in Lolita (‘weird’, but it’s one of Max’s favourite films); and the family’s controversial holiday castle in Kilcoe, Ireland, the colour of which has become an obsession of the tabloid press. ‘Listen: pink was the undercoat, it’s now a nice rusty orange,’he says.

And if his CV is still looking a little sparse given the hype that surrounds him, Max ought to put that right with his latest projects. After training at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and appearing in a couple of plays on the London fringe, he is about to appear as a drug-addicted pornographer in the Sky mini-series The Runaway and, before that, in a big-budget reimagining of Red Riding Hood by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke. ‘You’ve got to forget about what you know about Little Red Riding Hood and inject a bit of sexuality,’he explains. I thought Little Red Riding Hood was all about sexuality? ‘Well, yes, it’s about rape. But it’s very subconscious…’

At any rate, this version has a sexuality that’s precision-tooled to set young female audiences’hormones raging, with Amanda Seyfried as the hooded heroine and Irons as her rich suitor. Clearly, there’s an invitation to follow the Robert Pattinson route to teen idol (Hardwicke describes Max by saying, ‘He’s 6ft 3in, drop-dead gorgeous, and has this crazy magnetism’), but Max is wary of being typecast as a heart-throb. He recently ‘found’ himself talking to Disney about Snow and the Seven, a similarly racy reboot of the Snow White tale. ‘I was thinking, if I get this, they would probably pay a bit, there would be a lot of exposure – but I could pretty much bank on not having the kind of career I want.’He talks admiringly of Andrew Garfield and Tom Hardy, two young British actors who have made interesting career choices, and speaks of his love for Pinter and Stoppard: ‘I want to have a career that lasts 60 years, not six.’

He has a wariness of Hollywood and laughs at the ridiculous diets and the punishing vanity. ‘At the end of a really, really, really horrible workout, the only thing I want to do is… have a smoke,’he laughs. (He started smoking at 13, liquorice roll-ups, same as his father.) He remains a Londoner, commuting back and forth to LA, where he met his girlfriend, the Australian actress Emily Browning, 22, who has just starred in a sexy Australian take on the Sleeping Beauty story and is shortly to hit our screens in the big-budget teen flick Sucker Punch (no relation to the recent Royal Court play). For the moment Max continues to live with his parents in a cottage on a cobbled mews in West London, to which we retire halfway through the interview, when the din at the café becomes overwhelming. The Irons residence is cosy and bohemian, with an overflowing ashtray, a warm red colour scheme and battered leather sofas. A note pinned to the front door, on Sinead Cusack-headed notepaper, addresses itself to the family cyclists with the word ‘HELMET!’.

Max is touching when talking about his parents, whose marriage is the subject of endless tabloid speculation, though it has lasted more than three decades. The gossip doesn’t bother him, he says. ‘I remember there was a story – I must have been about ten – and it was about him reportedly kissing a co-star. And they said to me, ”Look, there’s going to be a story in the papers tomorrow. It’s not true.” And that was fine. You learn very quickly not to Google yourself.’

He grew up between the family’s Oxfordshire estate, where the novelist Ian McEwan was a neighbour, and London. He was sent to a state boarding school, where, funny to think now, he was mercilessly bullied for his pudding-bowl haircut and the ‘fucking medieval’ inverted yellow glasses he wore to correct his reading. Otherwise, he describes his childhood as happy and stable. One parent, usually Cusack, would try to stay at home while the other was away filming.

He lights up when I mention how much I loved the 1989 film of Roald Dahl’s Danny, the Champion of the World, which starred Jeremy Irons as an unconventional widower trying to raise his son (played by Max’s older brother Samuel, now a photographer). ‘I was two when the film came out, but I watched it so much as a kid, and it made me cry terribly.’Is there a parallel with his own father-son relationship? ‘I would like to say yes,’he says mysteriously, before deciding, ‘Actually I would say there is. My dad’s not lawless but he’s got his own set of morals and ethics which don’t always agree with other people’s – like in the movie. It’s not unjust what they do, or unfair, but it’s unconventional. I kind of respect that, especially these days.’

That unconventional streak emerged in Max when he was sent to Bryanston, a mixed boarding school in Dorset. He was always getting suspended. ‘Nothing serious, only girls, booze, cigarettes. My parents always said,”You’re really bad at getting caught.” I replied,”No, I was just doing it a lot.” That way, statistically, you’re more likely to get caught.’His parents once sent him to observe a school in Zimbabwe, just after Robert Mugabe had come to power, to remind him of his privilege – with mixed results. He was kicked out of Bryanston prior to his A levels, after a teacher caught him having sex.

His parents also exercised caution when he announced that he, too, wanted a career in acting, pointing out that they were in the ‘zero point one’per cent who were successful. They are not overly involved now, though ‘every now and then, there’s a bit of fatherly advice but it’s mainly to do with what to expect from Los Angeles, not how to actually do the acting’.

In fact, he tells me, the dyslexia was the bigger factor in his career choice. ‘The teacher would come along and say, ”Are you finding it all right?” and I would say, ”Yeah, it’s brilliant, I’m loving it, easy,” and that was a bit of acting in itself. You have to rely on charm a lot.’

At first, scripts terrified him, as he was unable to read them, but now he studies his lines beforehand. ‘When I applied to drama school, they had this sheet you had to fill in saying whether you had any disabilities and I called up and asked,”Does dyslexia count?” and they said,”It’s practically a qualification.” ’

I ask him if he’s scared of not being taken seriously. ‘No. I know I have to combat the fact that my parents are actors at least for the next ten years. It’s tied up with dyslexia. You want to give the impression you’re successful. That you’re well, often when you’re not.’He pauses. ‘When you’ve got parents who’ve done what you want to do, as much as they’re proud of you, they can’t be as amazed by it, because they’ve done it themselves. The only person I can amaze is me. I’ve got to do it for me. So… fuck the world, to an extent.’It’s an attitude that has served other members of his family rather well.

Red Riding Hood will be out in cinemas in the US from 11 March and in the UK from 15 April.

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