The longest version of Jeremy’s interview on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight aired on the Late Edition on Friday 22 November 2013. Watch it here: http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/videos/full-episode/gst-late-s4-episode-49-jeremy-irons
The longest version of Jeremy’s interview on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight aired on the Late Edition on Friday 22 November 2013. Watch it here: http://www.cbc.ca/strombo/videos/full-episode/gst-late-s4-episode-49-jeremy-irons
Jeremy Irons received a Lifetime Achievement Award at 16th Annual Savannah Film Festival
SAVANNAH, Georgia—Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons received a Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday, Oct. 28, at the 16th annual Savannah Film Festival, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design and running Oct. 26–Nov. 2.
Irons also participated in a Q-and-A after a special screening of Adrian Lyne’s 1997 adaptation of Vladimir Navokov’s novel, “Lolita,” in which he starred alongside Melanie Griffith and Frank Langella.
Listen to a 31 minute audio clip of the Q&A after the screening of Lolita:
Jeremy participated in a Q-and-A after a screening of his environmental docmentary Trashed.
Jeremy also led a discussion at the Clarence Thomas Center Chapel for the Historic Preservation Society, at 11:00am on Tuesday 29 October 2013, to discuss restoring Kilcoe Castle.
Published in issue 11-MM
11th March 2013
Author – Ralf Kaminski
British actor Jeremy Irons (64) is among the very biggest stars of international cinema. Since his breakthrough in 1981 with the TV, “Brideshead Revisited” and the movies with “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” he is constantly present in movies and television. His specialty are shady characters, whether it be the 40-year-old literature professor who falls in “Lolita” (1997) for precocious 12-year-olds, or the ruthless bank boss in “Margin Call” (2011), the financial crisis in the largest provides a way to rake in more money.
Irons has been married since 1978, with the Irish actress Sinéad Cusack, they have two grown sons, one of whom, Max, is also an actor. The couple lives partly in Oxfordshire (UK), and partly in a self-renovated Irish castle in West Cork. In the coming weeks, Jeremy Irons is seen in three ways: first as a teacher Raimund Gregorius in Bille August’s “Night Train to Lisbon ‘, based on the novel by the Swiss author Pascal Mercier (in cinemas from March 7). Once head of the family of a witch clan in fantasy film “Beautiful Creatures” (in cinemas from April 3). And finally, also known as Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. in the TV series “The Borgias” (the third season running in the U.S. on April 14 on).
“It’s great fun to play people who reinvent themselves for their own rules”
The British film star Jeremy Irons plays the main role in the film adaptation of Pascal Mercier’s “Night Train to Lisbon”. Before the premiere in Bern, he spoke to the Migros magazine about shooting, his other projects and his penchant for shady characters.
A world star you meet not every day. And British actor Jeremy Irons (64) has a reputation during filming is not always easy to be because of a certain tendency towards perfectionism. The slight nervousness turns out to be unfounded. Irons is not only extremely friendly, he is also very relaxed. Middle of a conversation, he gets up, fishes a tobacco package from his overcoat pocket, rolls a cigarette and walked with it to the balcony door of the hotel room as he continues to answer questions. He then puffing contentedly out into the icy Bern air, behind him on the wall of the room large a Non smoking signs …
Jeremy Irons, in the next few weeks you will be featured in three completely different roles. As a somewhat conservative Latin teacher in “Night Train to Lisbon”, as scheming Pope in the third season of “The Borgias” and as head of the family of a witch clan in “Beautiful Creatures.” How do you choose your roles?
Always for very different reasons. “Night Train” has attracted me in many ways. I like director Bille August, we have worked together before and then also shot in Lisbon, a great city. And I liked the book extraordinary, as I read it then. It seemed, however, that it would be difficult to film because it is so much revolves around ideas and philosophical questions. But if someone hinkriegt then Bille August. So I thought that might be a very nice five weeks, and so it was.
“The Borgias” is a rare excursions into your television, you can delay the first left?
Not really. Nowadays fewer and fewer films are being shot out of the way I like to do: movies, which are directed more to a smaller audience, but still cost quite a bit. More and more writers wander therefore from the television, where he produced many great quality series currently. Neil Jordan, whom I admire very much, did that too, after he had tried once before about ten years ago to make a movie out of the material. And he asked me if I would take on the lead role. It was one of these projects, as I like them, and it’s a really great role. So I said yes and am now engaged in five months.
That’s quite a time commitment, it was therefore already in collisions with other projects?
Until now. Or if so, then my agent told me nothing about it (laughs). So far it has been successful, so to work around.
“Beautiful Creatures” seems to be a relatively unusual choice of roles …
It’s not a movie I would see myself in the movies. But I had not worked for some time for a major Hollywood studio, and I know that this strip as part of “Twilight” are very popular. The figure has wit and a couple of nice scenes. So I thought, why not?
You sometimes take roles because they pay well?
I did that about three times in my life, and it’s been a while. “Dungeons & Dragons” is an example, and then there was a film in which I played someone with a white face … I do not come just for the title …
“The Time Machine”?
Exactly. I’ve done both while I renovated our little castle in Ireland. Since it was very useful to get a good fee.
When was the last time you have to audition for a role?
Phew, that was long ago. After drama school for roles in the theater, or about the age of 22. Nowadays, I get offers and decide what I want or do not want.
There are times that you absolutely want to have a role, but do not get it?
It happens, but the last time is also a long time ago. I would have loved to have had Robert Redford’s role in “Out of Africa”, the director Sydney Pollack unconvinced. He and Redford were good friends.
The presentation of “Night Train to Lisbon” discussed many philosophical questions, and religion is a recurring theme. Are you a believer?
These questions were the reason that I was attracted by the project. I’m quite a spiritual person, I believe in a whole lot. But I’m not one to like to hear about a group or club. My wife and my children are Catholic, and I myself was baptized Protestant. But religion is not such a big issue in the family. Whenever we go to church at Christmas and Easter, then a Catholic with us in the area. It is a kind of center for a very widely dispersed community, and follow whatever is completely there. It is always very nice. This church is like the glue that holds together the people.
About 20 years ago, have you ever filmed with Bille August in Lisbon. How he has changed since then, as the city?
He has not changed one bit. More children he has, but that’s it already. I also believe that I have not changed that much. Nevertheless, everything was new, because it was about a whole different story. And we turned in another corner of the city, especially in the old city – beautiful, especially because it crumbles a bit to himself.
Did Bille August? Much freedom left in the interpretation of the figure, or he knew exactly what he wanted?
He knows very well what he wants. But he also looks for the people that he knows that they bring him. If you do something that does not fit him, he says that too. Which is good. A director is a kind of sounding board that you need as an actor. The hope is that you hit the right note, but can never be sure, because you do not even see or hear. Since it needs someone who helps in fine-tuning. This of course requires that you trust the taste of the director what I do at Bille.
But that was it different?
Oh yes, I will not mention names here but.
And then you rebel?
It is often only realized when you see the finished film. During filming, I thought: Well, but that can not be justified. Then I saw the movie and thought, oh no, all wrong, we should do it the way I wanted it.
You have enjoyed your short visit in Bern during filming last year, I have read. How well do you know Switzerland?
Not very good, unfortunately. I go once in a while skiing in St. Moritz, and now by the way again after that visit here in Bern. But that’s it for now.
“The Borgias” You’re yes then for television, is somehow different?
Not at all. It’s like being on a movie set, even a bit more luxurious, we have more time and better equipment. But that’s just because it’s a quality series. I have friends in the U.S. turn the soaps, which sounds much less pleasant.
Rodrigo Borgia is a very complex character, a ruthless schemer. And yet you play it so that you like him, and hopes that its work plans.
A very interesting character. I read a lot about him, a lot of research, and has opened up a very wide spectrum character, I can work with. The popes after him have hated him, and their interpretation of it has come to dominate. This has ruined the reputation of the Borgia family rather, with all the stories of incest, for example. I am convinced that this is a caricature, and how I interpret it too. I’m looking for the nuances, the contradictions that we all have within us. We behave sometimes good and sometimes bad.
They like to play these kinds of characters, right? About in “Lolita” …
This role interpretation have taken me some really bad.
You played the seducer of a 12-year-olds to “nice”?
I was asked: How could you do that? My answer: people who do bad things are not necessarily bad.
However, you seem to play the bad guys like to correct: “The Time Machine,” “Die Hard with a Vengeance” …
Oh yes. Why are bad guys bad? Because they do not follow the rules, they find their own way, outside the conventions of society. It’s great fun to play people who invent their own rules. And it gives the audience the opportunity to watch people who behave like they normally can not, but secretly would probably also like.
You once said that you are particularly proud of “Dead Ringers,” “Lolita” and “The Mission”. Does that still?
In “Lolita” I could not really show all that I can, it is certainly my most complete film. On the other two I’m still proud, though I’m never as good as I would have liked.
“Lolita” was a risky role, you smoke, you ride a motorcycle – you obviously like to flirt with danger.
In fact. Risks brings enrichment to life. I’ve also never regretted. If something does not work out as hoped, then I say to myself, okay, but it seemed to make sense, as I have decided to make it so. So, what the heck. Do not regret, but just keep going. I try not to look back, not forward, but to live in the moment.
They always say that it had to do with smoking, that you have such a great voice. But I know some smokers, and none has such a voice! How do you do that?
(Laughs) I have no idea. She just is. Good genes! And of course it’s great to have something that stands out.
Is it true that on a film set can sometimes be difficult because you are a perfectionist like that?
That was probably one way, but I’ve put it behind me. Today I am much more relaxed and try to have a good time especially. If all fun and relaxed, it increases the chance that they will do a good job.
Your wife and your sons are indeed also worked as an actor. Look at each of your films to give advice and criticize?
That’s what we do. However, the movie business has changed dramatically since the time when we started. This makes it difficult for us, a young actor to give career advice. But it is important to know what we think of his work. The same goes for me and my wife when it comes to our films.
Has your wife ever really criticized heavily for one of your works?
Oh yes, and how. I once played some time ago in London theater. She looked at the dress rehearsal and then said: “Thou art really bad in the play” (laughs)
Very often, you do not look likely. All are constantly traveling somewhere and making films. Is not it hard sometimes?
Oh, because we have become accustomed, it was ever thus. We meet when we can. Our sons both live in London. And if we are spending time together, we enjoy it even more.
From The Times (London) 13 February 2013. SOURCE
Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the text.
Read original post HERE.
When Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons auditioned for theater school in the 1960s, he wasn’t the shoo-in many would now suspect, given his subsequent accolades. “I just told the admissions panel, ‘Well, I think I might quite like the life of being an actor.’ That’s apparently not what they wanted to hear.” Of the four English schools he applied to, only the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School took the bite. Last Tuesday, New School for Drama students and faculty had a rare opportunity to hear such stories not often told, as Irons peppered anecdotes like this throughout his Q and A session with faculty member and actress Karen Ludwig.
In front of a tightly packed audience at the Drama Theatre, Irons and Ludwig’s hour-long conversation covered quite a range. From love scenes with Meryl Streep (an experience both share actors share: Irons’ A French Lieutenant’s Woman and Ludwig’s Manhattan) speculations on his true calling (“I always thought I’d end up an antique dealer”), and the makings of a good director (“He’s like a great chef; ingredients have to simmer”), the actor’s responses drew in many laughs and, more than once, applause. When asked why he initially pursued acting as a career, Irons said that he “loved the smell, the theatre house, and the idea that everyone involved was working their own life.”
With notable awards such as a “Best Actor” Oscar for Reversal of Fortune, two Golden Globes, and an Emmy, Irons’ work transcends both film and theater. He is commended for his virtuosity in portraying some of literature’s more difficult roles, such as Humbert Humbert from Lolita. Stay tuned via the connect portal for video of the Q and A session.
Jeremy Irons – Trashed Preview Screening
12/11/2012 – 7:15 PM
The Oscar-winning star of such films as Reversal of Fortune, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Mission, Lolita, Dead Ringers and the TV series “The Borgias,” Jeremy Irons is also a producer, director, and activist. He will join Reel Pieces moderator Annette Insdorf for an onstage discussion after a selection of clips from his movies and a preview of Trashed, which premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and will be released Dec. 14 in New York.
Irons is the executive producer of this powerful documentary, a wake-up call about global waste. Irons investigates and reveals the extensive pollution of land, water and air around the globe-a threat to the food chain and to future generations. While Irons is outraged, the film also features images of paradoxical beauty as well as a score by the renowned composer Vangelis.
From The Hollywood Reporter and Scott Feinberg’s Blog “The Race”
[Follow Scott Feinberg on Twitter @ScottFeinberg and @THR_TheRace]
On Thursday morning, I had the privilege of speaking for about 30 minutes with the great London-based stage and screen actor Jeremy Irons, just minutes after his name was announced as a best actor (in a TV drama) Golden Globe nominee for his work on the critically-acclaimed Showtime series The Borgias.
Irons, 63, has already won just about every acting award that exists: an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, an Emmy, a Tony, an Annie, and prizes from all of the major critics groups, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, and National Society of Film Critics. He mentions during our chat that he recently loaned his inimitable voice to a recorded reading of T.S. Eliot‘s The Waste Land, which could, hypothetically, earn him a Grammy, as well, which would make him just the 11th member of the elite EGOT club!
But, as Irons notes during our conversation, it is neither a desire for awards, nor a fondness for fame, nor even a particular passion for acting (he’s appeared in only 40 movies since his big screen debut 30 years ago) that keeps him in the game at this point in his life. Instead, it is a deep connection that he feels to certain characters that he reads, as well as a need for the creative companionship of other actors, that periodically draws him away from his various homes and hobbies and back into the fray.
The most memorable of his film roles include a lovestruck victorian in Karel Reisz‘s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981); a Jesuit missionary in Roland Joffe‘s The Mission (1986); a pair of twisted twins in David Cronenberg‘s Dead Ringers (1988); a murder suspect in Steven Soderbergh‘s Kafka (1991); a shady spouse in Barbet Schroeder‘s Reversal of Fortune (1991); a Machiavellian lion in Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff‘s The Lion King (1994); a child predator in Adrian Lyne‘s Lolita (1997); a cheating/cheated-upon husband in Istvan Szabo‘s Being Julia (2004); and a debtor in Michael Radford‘s The Merchant of Venice (2004).
And now comes another: the slithery corporate titan John Tuld — which sounds to me a lot like Dick Fuld, the disgraced former chair of Lehman Brothers — in first-time filmmaker J.C. Chandor‘s timely Wall Street drama Margin Call. The star-studded indie that debuted at Sundance in Jan. was released on Oct. 21 and has been very warmly received by critics and VOD consumers. Irons only enters the film in its third act, but he absolutely dominates it during every subsequent moment in which he appears onscreen. Consequently, he is receiving his loudest awards buzz in years and could — despite being passed over by the BFCA, SAG, and HFPA last week (probably because he’s part of such a large and impressive ensemble from which it is hard to single out only one or two individuals) — earn his first invitation to the Academy Awards since he won the best actor Oscar 21 years ago.
Irons and I discussed all of the above — and more — during our time together, and I hope that you’ll tune in to our conversation at the top of this post.
If there’s a cad or a creep to be played, Jeremy Irons’s antennae shoot up. “Characters who live on the outer edge of acceptable behavior have always been to my taste,” says the Oscar winner, now starring as the power-mad patriarch of Showtime’s series The Borgias (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET/PT). Irons, 62, chats with Steve Daly about his affinity for sinners.
Why are scandalous families like the Borgias so fascinating?
Whether it be in The Borgias or Shakespeare or The Godfather, we love watching people doing what we don’t dare do. Murder and mayhem, from the safe position of our armchairs, can be delightful.
What will audiences make of Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI in 1492 but kept multiple mistresses?
He wouldn’t see that as hypocritical. He wasn’t a god—he was a man, and man was born a sinner. He’s rather endearing, in a strange way. He’s as pathetic as all men are. They want everything, don’t they?
Will people be surprised at the brutal Vatican politics?
The Vatican at that time was nothing like it is now. In a way, it was a medieval West Wing—the center of power in the known world.
Sundays have changed since Borgia days. What do they mean for you?
I’m a bit sorry we have all the shops open. But we all have to be encouraged to buy, buy, buy, to keep society going, so I suppose one has to accept that. For me, it’s a day I can have a lie-in and a relaxed brunch. I think we need a down day. Otherwise we’d just go bananas.
Your 25-year-old son, Max, is co-starring in Red Riding Hood. What’s it been like watching him deal with the publicity?
Well, it fills me with concern. I’m very happy he’s doing what he loves. But my nightmare as a young actor was to be taken up too quickly. A plant needs to get its roots into the soil before it can withstand the wind and the ice and the cold. Nowadays, the business has a huge appetite for youth and tends, when it’s tired of it, to spit it out. But I think he’s got his head screwed on quite straight.
You’ve played some very dark roles. Which gave you the most pause before saying yes?
I think Reversal of Fortune, because the protagonists [Claus and Sunny von Bülow] were still alive—or partly alive, anyway. But Glenn Close persuaded me that if I didn’t do it, someone else would. And I knew Lolita would cause fireworks. I said to my agent, “You’d better get me a wage that will keep me the next three years, because I don’t think I’ll work much after this.” That was indeed what happened.
You’re skilled at sailing the ocean and riding horses and motorcycles fast—not the safest activities. Are you a daredevil?
Living on the edge, for me, has always been one of life’s great pleasures. It’s not really the speed; it’s the fact that you have to do it well in order to survive.
Ever pushed it too far?
Oh, I have. At any time, you can tumble, but that adds to the frisson. It reminds you there is an edge. And I think we need constant reminders: The edge is there. Don’t fall over it.
Acclaimed actor Jeremy Irons talks about the Irish castle he’s renovated. Plus, Irons gets passionate about the controversial ban on smoking in New York City.
On the 15th century castle in Ireland he owns and has renovated.
“Renovating scared the wits off me. I didn’t know what it was going to cost or how long it would take, or that I’d manage to do it. People were sort of surprised, ‘cause they think I’m an extremely wealthy actor. They thought, ‘You’ll get architects in, you’ll get builders, and they’ll do it.’ But I didn’t want to do it that way. I wanted to be as hands-on as I could.
“It was open to the sky, but structurally sound. The walls had stood for 500 years, despite people’s attempts to pull them down for the stone they contained. They’re 100 feet tall, 9 feet thick at the bottom and 4 feet thick at the top. All the fine carving around the windows had either been eroded or stolen. No heating, no plumbing, no electricity.
“When we were going flat-out on it, I had 40 guys working there every day. I was the main contractor, so my job was to make sure that those guys, who were getting paid by the hour, were fully occupied, that they had all the equipment and materials they needed.
“I didn’t put a lift [elevator] in. The purist inside me said, ‘You’ve got to earn that height. If you want to get up there, you’ve got to walk.’ I’m sort of glad about that, even though when I’m 80 I may be cursing that decision.”
On the unusual color the castle is painted.
“It’s a sort of orange terra cotta—the color of newly-born seaweed. It’s a color that’s found a lot around the castle, and also in strands of the [local] rock that has copper in it. I think it fits [the setting] quite well, but it did surprise everybody when we first took the scaffolding down. There was a sort of sharp intake of breath from those in the neighborhood. I once asked my direct neighbor, who’s a farmer, ‘What color would you have done it?’ He said, ‘I suppose grey.’ Because of course it had been grey for the last 400 years. However, he said, ‘It’s yours! You can paint it whatever color you like.’ And now they rather like it. The fishermen and the ferrymen use it as a landmark. And I have to say it looks stunning, especially in low morning or evening light.
On the public-area no-smoking regulations he hates.
“I think they’re appalling. It’s what I call bullying a minority. Because if you say, ‘I really think I should have the right to smoke in the street or in the park or at the beach,’ people will say, ‘You shouldn’t be smoking at all. It’s bad for you.’ Well, I think we can choose what’s bad for us. I mean, there are many other things in life that are bad for us. Being surrounded by boring people is very bad for us—it attacks the heart. And being surrounded by mass consumerism, as one is in most urban areas, is bad for you, making you believe that if you buy something, it’ll make you happy. But all those things people are allowed to get away with.”
The Wall Street Journal
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
MARCH 25, 2011
Feeling Wrong for the Role, at First
By AMY CHOZICK
Read the original article here – Wall Street Journal Online
Thirty years after he played Charles Ryder in the British miniseries “Brideshead Revisited,” actor Jeremy Irons takes on another TV role that involves Catholicism, opulence and distrust: Rodrigo Borgia, the scheming patriarch and corrupt Pope Alexander VI in Showtime’s “The Borgias,” premiering April 3.
Watch a scene from Showtime’s new drama ‘The Borgias.’ The series stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI. Courtesy Showtime.
Mr. Irons, 62, is perhaps best known for film roles including Claus von Bülow in “Reversal of Fortune,” for which he won an Oscar, and Humbert Humbert in “Lolita.” He also starred in TV miniseries like the 2009 Lifetime biopic “Georgia O’Keeffe” with Joan Allen and “Elizabeth I,” with Helen Mirren.
His deep, languid voice is currently in theaters as the narrator of wildlife documentary “The Last Lions.” (He voiced the villain Scar in “The Lion King.”) In “Margin Call,” an upcoming film about the financial crisis, Mr. Irons plays an embattled Wall Street CEO based on Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld.
Mr. Irons was reluctant to commit to an ongoing TV series, but the nine-episode cable run and the fact that Irish director Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”) would write and direct “The Borgias,” convinced him.
The Wall Street Journal: Why is “The Borgias” being touted as a kind of medieval version of “The Godfather”?
Mr. Irons: There’s an element in common in that Don Corleone was an Italian in America. Rodrigo is a Spaniard in Rome. Yes, that element of the manipulator and the immigrant trying to find power and how to hold onto it and influence people as the head of the family. But those parallels don’t run very deep. I think it’s sort of a marketing idea Showtime had. [Mario] Puzo wrote a novel ["The Family"] about the Borgias, of course.
You’ve said you don’t think you’re right for the role of Rodrigo. Why not?
Neil [Jordan] said “Do you want to play Rodrigo Borgia?” I got home and Googled him and I told him “Christ, you don’t want me. You need James Gandolfini.” I could think of four or five actors who would physically be right for the role. I said “I can’t play that guy.” I have an aesthetic quality that is expected from a pope, whereas this guy was a big, sweaty Spaniard with a big appetite—a lot of food, a lot of women.
So why did you change your mind?
Neil said “No, it’s all about power and how power corrupts you and how you manipulate it. No one knows what he really looked like.” So he convinced me.
Even though Rodrigo is an evil megalomaniac, there’s some humor in him. Did you bring that to it?
I think it’s all in Neil’s writing. There’s sort of a natural amusingness about the situation which one doesn’t have to play. You just do what you do and it brushes off on somebody and there’s a smile there.
Speaking of humor, why wasn’t the 1997 film version of “Lolita” you starred in funnier? The book is very funny.
That book is full of irony. I think we were so nervous about the subject when we were making it that we were walking on egg shells. We could have used a lot more irony. The Kubrick version had more irony but it missed a lot of other things.
In addition to “The Borgias,” you’ve recently done a couple of episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” How did that come about?
Well, “SVU” is a different kettle of fish. I was in Budapest finishing “The Borgias” and they asked and I said I don’t know the show. They sent me an episode with Robin Williams and one with Isabelle Huppert. I said “This is good, it’s fine. It is what it is.” For an actor it feels a little like you’ve just finished reading Proust and you think “I’m going to read a Dick Francis novel and it will take me a day and be great.”
“The Tudors” did very well for Showtime but it got criticism for being soft porn in costumes. Will “The Borgias” have as much sex and nudity?
No. There are a lot of channels doing that. I think we can do better than that. This adaptation, for example, and there have been loads, doesn’t fall into the trap of writing all these stories about incest. In those days whole families used to sleep in the same bed. It’s better to get inside characters, who they are and why they do what they do than to make it sensationalist.
You seem to regularly go from film to TV to theater. Which do you prefer?
It’s just the material. They all have good things about them and they all have bad things about them. Theater is great because you can really stay in one place and work on the character in depth over a long period. It doesn’t pay as much as movies, but is often better written. The problem with TV is people are watching soccer at the same time. I’m really lucky to hop around. I’m a jobbing actor.
How is developing a character for TV different from one for film?
The huge luxury is time. A two-hour movie—and, if you’re lucky, it’s two hours—you can tell a story but it’s hard to develop the inconsistencies of a character and have time to bring all those inconsistencies together.
Are you Catholic?
My wife is. My children are. I don’t belong to clubs.
It may shock a lot of Catholics to see a Pope who behaves like Rodrigo Borgia.
Well, the medieval mind would’ve had no problem with a pope who has a mistress. Why do you expect him to be a God? He’s not a God. He’s a man, with all the weaknesses and failures. [Today] we expect our leaders to be squeaky clean and when they turn out to be normal people with normal desires, we say this person shouldn’t be our leader. Man is just doing his best.
Have you discussed a second season with Showtime?
We have a little. Neil has talked to me about some ideas. It’s hard to get the Pope out of the Vatican. I’m very grateful Showtime was hands-off when we were shooting. They left us alone. I hope that will continue because I don’t think you can make movies or TV series by committee.
Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
LAW & ORDER: SVU is known for attracting high profile and talented guest stars, and that streak continues with the “Mask” episode, airing on NBC January 12, when Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons makes his American network television debut.
Irons plays Captain Jackson, the estranged father of a woman attacked by a man wearing a haunting mask. Jackson’s work as a sex therapist becomes an obstacle to Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) as they try to gather evidence in their investigation into his daughter’s attack. A. J. Cook (Criminal Minds) is also guest starring as the victim’s girlfriend.
A Best Actor Oscar winner for his role as Claus Von Bulow in ‘Reversal of Fortune,’ Irons has acted in films ranging from ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ and the uber- creepy ‘Dead Ringers’ to ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’ and ‘Being Julia.’ He also voiced the villainous Scar in Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ and has appeared in British and American cable television movies and miniseries like ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and ‘Elizabeth I.’ He will be seen later this year as Rodrigo Borgia in Showtime’s new drama series The Borgias.
Daemon’s TV was there when Irons and Law & Order: SVU executive producer Neal Baer talked about how this guest appearance came about, what we can expect from Captain Jackson, and which role has been Irons’ favorite.
On how this SVU appearance came about:
According to Baer, “We go and ask actors whom I’ve loved watching on television and in the movies. All they can say is no and if they say yes then we work as hard as we can to give them a part they will they enjoy.” He added, “I know that is what keeps the show fresh–that you get these unexpected actors who can deliver these soulful performances.”
For his part, Irons was intrigued by the offer of a guest spot on SVU because he had never done network television before and several of his friends are big fans of the show, so he watched some episodes. “I thought it had great style and reminded me of those paperback crime novels which move very fast,” he said. “I like the way they tell the stories. I like the way they were done.”
As for the character of Captain Jackson, Irons teased, “I like playing characters who are not necessarily what they seem. I like playing enigmas. I like playing people who live outside our normal life experience. To play characters that have or live experiences on the edge–possibly good, possibly not, I find very interesting.”
Irons also likes taking roles that might surprise people. He explained, “One has to work within the parameters of what one is offered as an actor, but I always try to put my foot, so to speak, in a place where it is not expected as I walk in my career.”
On Captain Jackson:
The role of Captain Jackson was written specifically for Irons. Baer said, “When there are actors we really want to work with, like Jeremy, we go to them and see if there’s any interest and then we develop a story specifically for them. We go after various folks and design stories that we think they’ll be interested in and will challenge them and raise some important questions in the minds of viewers. I think ["Mask"] does that. It’s not just a straightforward mystery, by any means. ”
Captain Jackson is a recovering sex addict and alcoholic seeking amends for his past behavior who is now one of the country’s foremost sex therapists. When his daughter, estranged from him due to a past incident, is attacked by a rapist, a link emerges between Jackson, his daughter, and the investigation. Jackson is apparently quite the divisive character because Baer said that the “Mask” episode “pits our characters against each other, particularly B. D. Wong and Chris Meloni, around Jeremy’s character.”
Irons liked the complexity given Jackson. “I thought he was multidimensional, which is hard to find. and he contained enigmatic qualities. He was a mystery–basically a good person but a person who had fought his battles in life. I thought it was a multi-layered role and something I’d like to get my teeth into.”
Baer could not be happier with Irons’ performance. “He’s brilliant in the episode. When you see him, he fits into the show quite well, and yet there`s something about him– and this is what I think separates the great actors from actors–you want to know him. From the moment he steps on the screen you want to know him. He brings to the show this intensity and that is very alluring, I think, to an audience,” Baer explained. “That’s what we wanted and that’s certainly what Jeremy gives in this performance and it’s a very interesting performance because as he was alluding to, his character is a very multi-dimensional character who is struggling with some very real emotional issues that he’s able to bring to the surface in a way we can all identify with. Even though there are things about [Captain Jackson] you won’t like, you empathize with him.”
On his favorite role:
Irons said that there are definitely projects he’s enjoyed more than others, adding “SVU is way up with those I’ve enjoyed. It’s a lovely team of people.” He also loved the fast paced shoot and said, “I watched [Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni] in awe as they worked.”
There was actually quite the mutual admiration society between Irons and Meloni. When asked what stood out the most about his experience on SVU, Irons replied, “I enjoyed working with Chris a great deal. He’s a tremendous actor.” Meanwhile, Baer said, “Chris kept texting me throughout out the shoot, ‘I love Jeremy Irons,’” to which Irons retorted, “We are talking about getting married.”
When asked what role was dearest to his heart, Irons said it was one that might surprise us. “I think it’s a movie called ‘Lolita.’ I thought it did everything that a movie should do which is stir up people and make them question things. It was a very well-played film [directed] by Adrian Lyne that sadly got very small distribution because studios were probably frightened by the subject matter.”
Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC Wednesdays at 10pm eastern/ 9pm central with “Mask” airing on January 12.