Jeremy Irons Hungarian TV Interview – Video and Screencaps

Here’s the link to the interview with Jeremy Irons, conducted by Nava Aniko, which aired on Hungary’s Magyar Televizio, on 22 December 2011 – VIDEO LINK

The video is dubbed in Hungarian, but it’s still possible to hear most of Jeremy’s English under the translator’s voice.  The interview is 40 minutes long and commercial free.  The interview was conducted on the set of The Borgias and there are some great behind-the-scenes shots of the sets and props.

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‘The Borgias’ Season 2 Promo Video and Screencaps

View the original video HERE for full screen.

“The Borgias” Season 2 Promo, posted with vodpod

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Jeremy Irons Interviewed for Saga Magazine

Jeremy Irons is interviewed in the August 2011 issue of Saga Magazine.

‘I don’t think I will ever be that famous. I don’t think it’s good for an actor – I’d rather be with my family’


Jeremy Irons
He’s about to star as arch-villain Cardinal Borgia in a new TV series, but the charismatic and likeable Jeremy Irons reveals that these days he is more concerned about another role – that of being a father.
Words: Gabrielle Donnelly
There is never an inkling of a doubt, when you are in conversation with Jeremy Irons, that you are in the presence of a Thespian. For starters, there’s the look – the swept-back salt and pepper hair, the darkly dramatic features highlighted by the knotted scarf, the huge, elegant hands waving gracefully in the air.
Then there’s the voice – resonant and beautifully modulated, the carefully honed instrument of a meticulously responsible owner. But most of all there’s the conversation. It swoops and swerves as it encompasses fabulously famous people, glamorous geographical byways, positively polychromatic opinions and some truly gorgeous anachronisms. (‘I am not,’ he announced to me once, ‘the sort of disapproving father who sends his sons telegrams.’) Telegrams!
He is never, ever, dull.
In a world where conformity is increasingly, and dispiritingly, the norm, Jeremy is an unapologetically unreconstructed luvvie who will
as happily give you his views on the current state of organised religion (‘I’m disappointed in it and I’ll tell you why…’) as reflect on playing Cardinal Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI, in the Sky TV series The Borgias – ‘it’s the vulnerability that made him interesting to me.’
We are chatting on a sunny morning at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills; he’s in LA for some promotional activity, but has a pad in New York and five other homes, including a pink castle in Ireland. Most of the time, he and his wife, the actress Sinead Cusack, flit between the Oxfordshire town of Watlington and the castle near Ballydehob, in County Cork.
‘I’m a jobbing actor,’ he says with some pride. ‘I always have been. I do theatre, television, movies; I’ll do anything anybody suggests if it tickles my fancy. I mean, I like to be paid, but if someone offers me a good character in a good story, I really don’t mind where it’s played.
‘I’ve done a couple of big-budget movies – a Die Hard – and I’ve done a couple of… what would you call them? Sort of… dragony pictures, you know?’ He sniffs at the memory of 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons.
‘Of course, doing a blockbuster is useful because people who make movies think that people who are in movies that make a lot of money will make their movies more money. It’s a clearly unproven thing, but that’s what accountants believe. For me, it’s more about the fun I have on a shoot. On the whole, I prefer smaller-budget films – they’re faster to make. With Die Hard, I’d wait for days while a ship was turned around so that a car could fall on it!’
The full article can be read in the August 2011 issue of Saga Magazine.

‘The Borgias’ Press Kit

All photos and text property of Showtime. No copyright infringement intended.

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The Borgias – Press Articles

Irons dissects complex character – Toronto Sun

Jeremy Irons on playing Pope Alexander VI as a regular dude – Montreal Gazette

Playing Jeremy Irons’ son was intriguing for actor – Sioux City Journal

Liz Smith: The Borgias Will Slay You

‘Borgias’: Showtime couldn’t make this stuff up – USA Today

The Borgias Premiere: Praying Cesare has more time for sex (and not with his sister) – Entertainment Weekly

Oh God, you Devil! – New York Post

Jeremy Irons on finding the good side of bad guys – Toronto Globe and Mail

Showtime takes on a scandalous Pope Alexander VI with The Borgias – L.A. Times

Review: Jeremy Irons Brings Charisma to ‘The Borgias’ – Maureen Ryan, TV Squad

Family values – ‘Borgias’: historical, incestuous, murderous fun – New York Post

The Borgias follows Showtime hit The Tudors to highlight Vatican church, family drama – from the New York Post

The Borgias: We are family – from TV Soundoff

The Borgias: The Original Crime Family – from Pop Culture Passionistas

The Family That Sins Together – Toronto Star

Showtime’s sinister ‘Borgias’: Vile, corrupt, addictive – The Washington Post

The Borgias preview: Power comes with a price, meet the Pope’s children – From Inside the Box – Zap2It

Jeremy Irons stars in Showtime’s The Borgias – ABC News and Associated Press

Jeremy Irons has admitted acting doesn’t get any easier with age – from Yahoo News

“Borgias” doesn’t let facts get in way of sexy story – Los Angeles Times

Plum Role: History’s Ultimate Godfather – NY Times

Read the full original article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/arts/television/the-borgias-a-showtime-mini-series-starring-jeremy-irons.html

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March 25, 2011

Plum Role: History’s Ultimate Godfather

By CHARLES McGRATH

ALTHOUGH they lived in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Borgias, the subject of a new nine-part Showtime mini-series that begins next Sunday, were a family made for TV. The Borgias were rich, ruthless, scheming and corrupt, and so sexually voracious that, if you believe the rumors, they slept with everyone, including one another. Mario Puzo, who worked on a novel about them, called the Borgias the Corleones of the Renaissance. They also resemble “The Sopranos” a little. Imagine if Tony, instead of running a garbage hauling business, had bought himself the papacy.

“The Borgias,” which cost $45 million to make, was created, written and produced by the film director Neil Jordan, who also directed several episodes. It is Showtime’s latest entry in what is becoming a high-stakes game on cable TV now that it’s no longer enough merely to show Hollywood movies or the odd sporting event. If you want to sell cable subscriptions these days, you need not just original programming but a long-running, franchise-defining series like “The Tudors,” Showtime’s recent hit.

A bankable star doesn’t hurt either, and in the new series the Borgia paterfamilias, Rodrigo, who became Pope Alexander VI, is played by Jeremy Irons, not exactly typecast. To judge from his famous portrait by Cristofano dell’Altissimo, the historical Rodrigo, corpulent and hatchet nosed, looked as if he had been inflated with a tire pump. At the time of his death, or so the legend goes, he was so bloated and debauched that when his body was inserted into the coffin, someone had to jump on the lid to get it shut.

“When we first talked about the part, Jeremy was worried that he didn’t have that bulbous weight,” Mr. Jordan said recently, speaking by phone from his house in Ireland. “I told him that if we can get this guy properly situated, torn between God and politics, the weight wouldn’t matter.” He added: “I wanted someone who would understand the kind of history here. ‘The Borgias’ isn’t just a saga of poisoning and nubile women, like a Ken Russell movie. Well, we do have all that, but we also put this figure in historical context.”

Mr. Irons, still elegantly handsome at 62, doesn’t look much like Pope Alexander. He nevertheless has, both on screen and in person, a slightly detached, regal quality, a darting, glinting intelligence, and occasionally an air of weary melancholy, all very useful papal attributes. He also has a long history of playing characters who are morally ambiguous if not outright villainous: Humbert Humbert in “Lolita”; the deranged twin gynecologists in David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”; the accused wife poisoner Claus von Bülow in “Reversal of Fortune” (for which he won an Academy Award); even Scar in “The Lion King.” And with that deep, rumbling voice, like an organ echoing in a cathedral, he sounds the way a Renaissance pope should sound: the sibilant S’s, the luxurious drawn-out vowels suggesting knowledge acquired outside the seminary.

Mr. Irons speaks this way in real life too, and in New York recently, draped over a chair in his suite at the Lowell hotel, he employed that same voice to say, “We don’t talk about my voice.” He doesn’t like to be made conscious of it, he explained, recalling a conversation he had years ago with the actor John Hurt. “You know all these young actors coming up, 18, 19, 20 — rather good, aren’t they?” Mr. Hurt said. “You know what I do? I go up and say, ‘You’re a great actor, with such a fantastic voice. Have you ever listened to it?’ ”

And then they’re finished, Mr. Hurt said gleefully.

Mr. Irons was a late bloomer. He grew up well to do, on the Isle of Wight in England and went to Sherborne, a midlevel boys’ boarding school, where he was a good athlete but such an indifferent student that the headmaster predicted he would wind up as a paratrooper. He tried being a social worker before becoming an actor and then had such trouble finding parts that for a while he supported himself as a home remodeler. His breakthrough didn’t come along until 1981, when he was cast as the earnest, proper Charles Ryder in the 11-part television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s “Brideshead Revisited.”

“We had just come through the ‘Look Back in Anger’ phase, and actors like Tom Courtenay and Albert Finney were sort of fashionable — what I call the kitchen-sink actors, actors with local accents,” he said. “It was ‘Brideshead’ that made it acceptable to have someone who was tall and English and spoke properly as a hero.”

Nevertheless he mostly sees his archetypal Englishness as a liability rather than a strength. “The American version of the Englishman is rather like the English version of the American — sort of one-dimensional and not very attractive,” he said. “I’ve tried not to capitalize on my Englishness. If I had the charm of David Niven or Hugh Grant, then maybe I would, but I don’t. I’m dirtier and more odd.”

The roles of characters who are strange or morally enigmatic have come to him, he went on, partly by accident, or because he has a reputation for playing them, and partly because he has sought them out. “Certainly they attract me,” he said. “I’m always interested in good and evil, who’s a good person, who’s a bad person, believing, really, that we’re all rather gray.”

No one is grayer than Rodrigo Borgia, who bought the papacy in a rigged election, had numerous mistresses and fathered four children yet was also a skilled diplomat and renowned patron of the arts. Mr. Jordan said he thought the whole family has suffered from bad press: “A lot of the history was written by Rodrigo’s successors, especially by Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, who became Pope Julius II. There was no Gibbon or Niall Ferguson to write about the Borgias, and so they become a little demonized.”

He added that what he found interesting in writing the script was that once Rodrigo was put in the context of his family, he remained attractive no matter how evil he became. Oddly, the villain of “The Borgias” is Rodrigo’s rival, della Rovere (played by Colm Feore), a model of probity and holiness.

Mr. Irons said that in researching the part he made a list of all the qualities attributed to Rodrigo Borgia. “It was like a rainbow,” he said. “The list goes all the way from ‘generous man,’ ‘wonderful company,’ ‘a great organizer’ to ‘poisoner,’ ‘cruel’ and ‘despotic,’ all the worst adjectives you can think of. I thought: ‘That’s very interesting. Maybe it’s all true. Maybe from different vantage points all those adjectives could be seen to be the truth.’ Film is always a kind of patchwork anyway, and my hope is that Rodrigo will emerge as a man of many different colors and many different behaviors. He’s completely different when he’s being persuaded by his daughter or bullied by the mother of his children or negotiating with the Spanish ambassador. I never judge. That’s not my job. I just try to link all those attributes.”

Mr. Jordan said: “Jeremy does manage to humanize the monster, doesn’t he? I loved him as Claus von Bülow. You had absolutely no idea what that character was thinking.”

About playing the pope, a character who is always being deferred to while being lugged around on a throne or gliding through his palace in robes, Mr. Irons said, “It’s daft, really, but someone’s got to do it.” Then he became serious and went on, “I hope the Vatican doesn’t go down the obvious path of creating a great controversy over this, though I’m sure Showtime would love that.”

He added: “I think the great strength of Neil’s script is that because he’s a very bright man and a historian who reads very widely, he’s found something possibly nearer the truth about the Borgias, though God knows what the truth really is. I’m hoping that the audience will be totally confused about whether to root for this man. It’s a bit like von Bülow, you know. Did he do it or not?”

Sex, violence and the Church: On set with The Borgias

Sex, violence and the Church: On set with The Borgias.

ETYEK, Hungary — Pope Alexander VI, the most notorious man to head the Vatican due to his enthusiasm for sex orgies, bribery, murder and military conquest, has just placed a magnificent jewelled crown on the head of French King Charles VIII and declared him king of Naples.

Alexander’s powerful, haunting voice, backed, as he says, by “the authority of the almighty God,” echoes through the jam-packed St. Peter’s Basilica. He declares that Charles will “reign forever with Jesus Christ.”

“Cut!” shouts the floor director, a signal to the young Hungarian boys lip-synching a Latin hymn that they can stop popping open their mouths every few seconds like blowfish.

Oscar-winning British actor Jeremy Irons is playing the scheming, manipulative, and sexually incontinent pope — who reigned from 1492 to 1503 and was the inspiration for Mario Puzo’s The Godfather — in this new $45-million Canadian-Irish-Hungarian production called The Borgias.

The nine-part series, potentially controversial, given the Vatican’s ongoing woes over the sex-abuse scandal, will premiere on April 3 on Bravo! and on Showtime in the U.S.

Irons’ performance in the scene as Alexander — formerly known as Rodrigo Borgia, before he bribed his way into the Catholic Church’s top job — appears flawless. But Irons is a noted perfectionist.

He bolts to the nearby curtained-off monitors and leans over the shoulder of Jeremy Podeswa, the Canadian director of the final three episodes of the series.

Podeswa, in a casual shirt and blue jeans, and Irons, wearing heavy, flowing red vestments and a towering papal cap, watch replays on a monitor and ponder possible changes, while $50-a-day Hungarian extras — outfitted as cardinals, French and Vatican generals, Swiss Guards, soldiers, local nobles, friars, nuns and commoners — relax, head out for a smoke, or reach for their mobile phones.

As Irons leaves, he passes Zoltan Rihmer, a young Hungarian academic hired to be the production’s “papal and Latin adviser.”

Irons wants to make sure he hasn’t committed any liturgical gaffes at the altar.

“Happy?” Irons deadpans.

“Absolutely,” replies a beaming Rihmer. “It’s fabulous.”

The producers are hoping audiences and critics will be just as glowing about The Borgias, a creation of Irish writer-director Neil Jordan, who won an Oscar for the screenplay for the 1992 film The Crying Game.

Showtime picked up The Borgias to fill the gap left by The Tudors, an Irish-Canadian co-production loosely based on the reign of England’s Henry VIII in the early 1500s. The Tudors ran for four seasons on Showtime before its finale last spring, and built steadily larger audiences.

Jordan, who recruited a third Oscar winner (Gabriella Pescucci, the costume designer, who won an Oscar for Age of Innocence) to the production, will bring a big-screen feel to viewers’ living rooms, according to the production team.

“Neil thinks cinematically,” Podeswa told Postmedia News during a brief break in shooting at a massive studio on the outskirts of Budapest.

“This is the first television show Neil’s done, and it will have a more cinematic esthetic — a broad canvas,” he said, paraphrasing Jordan’s directive: “‘You don’t have to think small screen, you don’t have to always be close, you can do things in a less obvious way.’”

While the script takes some liberties with history, those decisions were driven primarily by the need to build a flowing narrative, rather than to dramatize.

The history of the Borgia family, in fact, needs no embellishment.

“(Alexander’s) morals were widely held to be deeply corrupt,” wrote the late British historian Christopher Hibbert in his 2009 book, The House of Borgia.

The book recounts one incident when 50 prostitutes were brought to a party at his Vatican apartment to dance naked before him, his adult children, and other guests. The evening culminated with prizes for those who had the most sex with the prostitutes.

Perhaps more notorious was Alexander’s son Cesare, a cardinal and one of the inspirations for Italian bureaucrat-philosopher Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Cesare used violence, war and deception to keep his father in power. He was also a hot-tempered sadist who would assemble prisoners outside his Vatican balcony to shoot for fun, according to Hibbert.

One man arrested for insulting Cesare had his hand cut off and his tongue ripped out and attached to the finger of the severed hand.

“The whole grisly ensemble was hung out of the prison window for all to see,” he wrote.

Francois Arnaud, the handsome young Montrealer playing Cesare in The Borgias, is one of the actors brought in to give the series some sex appeal. So while he’s at times ruthless and manipulative, his character is intended to be rather more sympathetic than the psychopath from history.

The Cesare character in The Borgias “does horrible things, but he always finds a way to justify them, at least to himself,” Arnaud said in his cluttered private studio room, adorned with half-eaten food and dumbbells on the floor.

“I kill people to protect my family, to protect my sister, to remain in a position of power. It’s kill or be killed. I don’t take pleasure in killing people.”

In some areas, Jordan only hints at some of the more outrageous claims about the Borgia family, including unsubstantiated rumours that the pope and Cesare both had incestuous liaisons with Lucrezia.

“They (Cesare and Lucrezia) are very close and very tactile with each other, and a lot of people will watch that and think, ‘Oh, what a lovely brother and sister, look how close they are,’” said Holliday Grainger, the pretty blond British actress who plays Lucrezia.

“But there are a few scenes where you can very easily read in something more, if you want to.”

Producer James Flynn said the TV series will bear a closer resemblance to The Sopranos than The Tudors.

“This is the original crime family,” Flynn said in his office at a massive studio on the outskirts of Budapest.

The TV series juxtaposes the violence, sexual escapades and scheming with intense family love and devotion between Alexander and his children.

“This is clearly The Godfather, in the sense that it’s all about family,” said Canadian actor Colm Feore, who plays Alexander’s archrival, Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere.

“But it’s also about the Renaissance, explosions of greed, power, art, desires, and how they all fit within the context of the Catholic Church.”

The producers say there is no deliberate attempt to exploit the Catholic Church’s ongoing child sex scandal, noting that Jordan first conceived the idea more than a decade ago.

But they acknowledge that the heightened public of, and interest in, the Vatican could draw more viewers curious about the pre-Reformation Vatican.

What viewers will quickly discover is that the Vatican of today, which represents the world’s smallest state, is vastly different from the institution that ruled over Italy’s papal states and headed a powerful army.

“In those days, the pope was not only the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church; he was a secular ruler, as well,” said the academic adviser, Zoltan Rihmer.

“This led him into Italian and world politics of the day, and that was a very turbulent period. He had to fight his way through the nobility of Rome and of these papal states.”

The series premiere begins with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, working with his 18-year-old Cesare to bribe and scheme their way to victory in the papal conclave. A Spaniard viewed with suspicion by Rome’s elite, Borgia is able to afford the hefty bribes, due to the considerable wealth he accumulated as a senior Vatican administrator.

But it’s clear, after his victory, that the new pope’s rivals, including Della Rovere, will not take defeat easily. Cesare, in a Machiavellian twist, uses an assassination attempt against his father to the family’s advantage.

The series naturally focuses on Alexander’s ruthlessness and his personal and moral flaws, though historians say the more sensational accounts of the Borgia dynasty are one-sided.

“It could be noted that there were positive sides to Alexander’s rule,” noted University of Glasgow historian Christopher Black.

“Besides administrative and financial reforms, he made moves to reform the monastic orders, and was a respected patron of artists and humanist scholars, who respected him.”

Feore said the complexity of Alexander’s character, and the context in which he ruled, can’t be ignored. The pope was in many ways like a warlord, but his goal was to sustain the Catholic Church — and what he hoped would be a family dynasty — in a hostile environment.

“In this world, you have to promise things you’re not going to deliver on, you have to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, you have to understand that people are corruptible, venal, horrible, maniacal, and self-centred. If you can recognize that and use it to your advantage, then you might be doing God’s work,” Feore told Postmedia News.

“Now, if that circular kind of thinking works for you, boy, have we got a show for you.”

The Borgias’ two-hour premiere airs Sunday, April 3 on Bravo! at 10 ET/ 7 PT.

poneil@postmedia.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

‘The Borgias’ Behind the Scenes

Photo by KK via Twitter

Photo by KK via Twitter

The Borgias set at Korda Studios in Etyek, Hungary

Photo by David Oakes via Twitter

"Beautiful day yachting at Balaton with my pretend family... Brilliant part of Hungary. Lucky Hungarians! " Photo by David Oakes who plays Juan Borgia in "The Borgias"

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First photo of Jeremy Irons from ‘The Borgias’

The Borgias - The First Picture of Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia. Production starts this summer in Budapest, Hungary.

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