Jeremy Irons Interviewed by Backstage

Original article in German

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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).

Emmys 2012: Jeremy Irons is the Original Mob Boss (Q&A)

From The Hollywood Reporter

The actor channels his innate “touch of melancholia” to create an addictive crime-family patriarch in Showtime’s epic drama “The Borgias.”

11:44 AM PDT 6/6/2012

by Marisa Guthrie

This story first appeared in the June 2012 Special Emmy Issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

A rainy April afternoon in New York finds Jeremy Irons, 63, chain-smoking hand-rolled cigarettes (he buys the tobacco at airport duty free shops) in his suite at the Upper East Side boutique Lowell Hotel. He is enjoying a moment away from his peripatetic work schedule: In addition to playing the lead on Showtime’s The Borgias, which shoots in Budapest, the British Oscar winner (Reversal of Fortune) also has completed work on Bille August’s Night Train to Lisbon, shot on location in Portugal, and is shooting Richard LaGravenese’s Beautiful Creatures in New Orleans. With his signature candor, Irons shares his take on the “bullshit” of fame, how a revealing dinner at the Vatican prepped him for his role as Renaissance Pope Rodrigo Borgia and the two American actors who have intimidated him.

The Hollywood Reporter: What drives you to keep working?

Jeremy Irons: It’s a bit of a drug. But it’s important that you have a very strong life with other passions that counter balances the work so that you know why you’re working. Fame and success are valueless. We have a culture where everybody wants to be famous. And you think, why? Because we’re being told that will bring happiness. And it’s all bullshit. Admittedly, it’s very nice wandering down the street and people saying, “Hi, love your work”; and going into a restaurant and people saying, “Oh, we’ll find you a table.” The whole world’s your village. But you have to put up with everybody wanting to know your business.

THR: How long do you see yourself playing Rodrigo Borgia?

Irons: I ask myself that every day. And I ask [creator and executive producer] Neil Jordan that every day. When they originally asked me to do it, they said, “Listen, it might run for four years.” And I gasped! But Neil is a filmmaker. So in a way, he’s educating himself to write for television. This makes the series a little slower than Showtime would like. But we’ve picked it up a bit, shorter scenes and more [snaps fingers] in season two.

THR: Do you like Borgia as a character?

Irons: You can’t play someone and not like him. You are inside him, and they are you. I like Borgia’s appetite; I like that he eats life, won’t take shit and that he has flaws. He’s not a good guy, he’s not a bad guy, he’s a guy. He’s power hungry; he doesn’t want to waste his time in this life. I share that with him. I’m not power hungry, just easily bored and want to make the most of the four score years and 10, if I’m lucky, while I’m on the planet.

THR: I read somewhere that when Borgias started shooting, you had dinner with an archbishop. What was that experience like?

Irons: Yes, it was at the Vatican. When he asked me in the door, he said, “You are now safe; no one can get you here; you are diplomatically immune.” I thought, “Well, that’s nice to know; I’ll put that address in my book.” We shared a bottle of wine in his kitchen, which was pretty spartan. And around 11 o’clock, we went to the roof to have a cigarette, and he pointed over the rooftops to a cell of lighted windows and said, “There’s Rodrigo Borgias’ modern counterpart; he’s still awake, doesn’t sleep much, sits and plays his piano.” Then we went downstairs, by which time [the archbishop’s] mistress had arrived.

THR: You’re allowed to have a mistress in the Vatican?

Irons: It would seem so.

THR: Who was this person?

Irons: It would be wrong to mention names. But all I can say is that nothing really has changed. We now think that the pope is next to God. Well, in those days the pope was head of the Church but behaved as any man would behave — or most men would behave.

THR: Are you Catholic?

Irons: Not really. I was baptized Church of England. My children are Catholic; my wife is Catholic. But I’m not really a club member, never have been. I go to Mass because I enjoy times of reflection. But I’m not a regular at all.

THR: How pigeonholed have you felt as an actor?

Irons: You’re always pigeonholed a bit. I do play the occasional American character, but I’m thought of as an “English actor.” I’m tall, slim and do bring a certain thing. You can’t get away from that. I’m never going to be cast as a sort of Danny DeVito character.

THR: Well, you have done a few projects with comedic elements.

Irons: Glad you’ve noticed! I seem to be known as enigmatic: Is he good, is he bad? Can we trust him, or is he just evil?

THR: But certainly no one has accused you of being Mr. Sunshine.

Irons: No, but I can show you a few films where I was Mr. Sunshine — although there’s always a touch of melancholia. I try not to put my feet in the footsteps that I’ve been in before. All actors have a certain smell. You can say that’s a Jeremy Irons role, that’s an Al Pacino role, or that’s a De Niro role. My biggest competition for roles is maybe Alan Rickman, in a way, or Bill Hurt. It’s all about the work you’ve done that adds up to your aroma.

THR: You’ve worked opposite fellow Oscar winners Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Helen Mirren. Do better actors make you better?

Irons: Yes. It’s like tennis; it ups your game if you have someone playing good tennis against you.

THR: Have you ever been intimidated by one of your co-stars?

Irons: De Niro used to intimidate me. He doesn’t give any quarter, but he’s mellowed now. And Al Pacino is quite intimidating.

THR: Any leading ladies?

Irons: Intimidated me? No.

Email: Marisa.Guthrie@thr.com; Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie

The Borgias – Season 2 TV Spots and Promo Videos

Jeremy Irons at the TCA Winter Press Tour

Jeremy Irons and fellow The Borgias cast members Holliday Grainger, Francois Arnaud and Joanne Whalley, took part in a panel discussion in Los Angeles on Thursday 12 January 2012.

At the recent press conference to promote the upcoming season, Irons likened The Borgias to the current “occupy” movement. (CLICK ON THE MEDIA BAR ABOVE FOR AUDIO)

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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

All images property of Showtime:

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Jeremy Irons in Parade Magazine

Read the full, original article at Parade.com, complete with a link back to the Kilcoe Castle page at jeremyirons.net!

Here’s how the article appears in Parade Magazine in newspapers: (Click for a much larger high-res image…)

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.

See photos of Jeremy’s stunning castle in Ireland

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.”

Q + LA Jeremy Irons – LA Times Magazine

Q + LA – Jeremy Irons – LA Times Magazine – Read original article here.

Q+LA Jeremy Irons

The actor brings his consummate skills to bear on stage and screens large and small—and still, it’s the velvety voice that resonates  by Robin Sayers

photo by ANDREW MACPHERSON

Of course Jeremy Irons makes his own cigarettes. He keeps in his pocket a two-sided leather pouch. One half holds the tobacco, the other those dark brown rolling papers favored by the Brits. He is unrepentant about what most everyone labels a vice. In March of 1987, despite her admonishments, he famously puffed away while sitting next to Princess Diana at a charity gala on the U.K.’s National No Smoking Day.

He’s chimney-esque. It’s why we’re sitting outside, mid February in New York City, when the forecast calls for rain. But Irons has the most exquisite vocal cords, and perhaps tar and nicotine are the elements of his phonetical magic. To beat a dead horse here: Up close and in person, his pipes are almost unnerving, having an effect not unlike the enveloping THX surround-sound promo that’s played before movies start.

Irons downplays his golden larynx with a proper Englishman’s manners, but everyone else has taken notice. He’s frequently called upon to narrate spoken-word recordings and documentaries, most recently The Last Lions from National Geographic, about the big cats in Botswana. (Familiar sonantal territory—who can forget his terrifying turn as Scar in The Lion King?) This month, that voice—and the body that houses it—stars in The Borgias, Showtime’s new drama series about a Spanish cardinal who ascended to the Papacy by decidedly Machiavellian means. Let’s hear it for the silver-tongued cads.

What drew you to The Borgias?
Neil Jordan, because he’s a director and writer I admire, and I was aware that a lot of the best writing and filming was happening on American television. [Also] the Borgias [1492–1503] is a very interesting period.

How far from history does the show veer?
Not that far. It’s difficult to get accurate historical information from that time, but there was a huge amount of wild stories about [Pope Alexander VI].

Are you anticipating flack from the Catholic Church?
Obviously they’re nervous, but I hope it’ll be rather like if Queen Elizabeth went to see a production of Richard III. She wouldn’t say, “This is absolutely disgraceful.” She’d think it was historical, and I hope the Pope and the Vatican hierarchy take that attitude. It’s partly about how all power corrupts. That hasn’t changed.

What age were you when you thought, I want to make acting my life’s work?
Very late. Something stirred in me when I saw Lawrence of Arabia and saw what Peter O’Toole did in that. I thought, I’d love to be involved in that sort of thing, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be.

So, you were born on an island off an island off an island?
The village where I was born wasn’t actually an island, but it was always known as the Isle of Geese, within a harbor on the Isle of Wight [off the southern coast of England]. I learned to sail when I was 10. I have a little boat of my own, and I did part of the round-the-world race—from New Zealand to Australia.

In Reversal of Fortune, we see your Claus von Bülow character on a boat. Do you ever run into him in London?
Sometimes, but I didn’t meet him until about four years after the movie. I knew he wouldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already instinctively know. I couldn’t ask whether he tried to kill his wife. I think I know the answer, and that’s how I played it in the film. He’s funny. We met at a cricket match at Paul Getty’s, who was a mutual friend.

Did you know ahead of time that he’d be there?
No, I arrived, and Paul said, “Claus is in the house looking around the library. I know you’ve never wanted to meet him, and so I won’t mind if you skedaddle off.” And I said, “Well, I’d quite like to meet him now.” I was sitting watching the cricket, and I heard this voice behind me saying, “You see—I’m not fat!” I turned round and said, “I never said you were fat. I used to do interviews, and I said you were bigger than me. Well, you’re a bigger man than me.” He said, “Do you hear from Alan Dershowitz?” and I said, “No, actually. Since the movie I haven’t heard from him.” And so [von Bülow said], “I understand he’s representing Michael Tyson and Leona Helmsley.” I said, “Yeah, I read about it.” [He replied,] “You haven’t been asked to play either of them, have you?” And I said, “I thought Mike Tyson might be beyond my range, but I’d have a crack at Leona.”.

I would think it’d be weird to be face-to-face with someone you’ve portrayed onscreen.
Quite. Originally I didn’t want to do Reversal of Fortune. I thought it was a bit tasteless. [Sunny von Bülow] was in a coma, the kids were still about, and I thought, Why rake over these coals? It won’t be much fun for them. But Glenn [Close] persuaded me. She said, “If you don’t, someone else will.”

What makes you nervous?
I get slightly nervous when I don’t find work that really tests me or when I’m riding horses or I have to change my routine. It gets harder as you get older to learn lines, and sometimes I get nervous I’ll forget them. Not seriously so. A little adrenaline is good, but nerves tend to defeat what you’re trying to do.

When did you first set foot in Los Angeles, and what were your initial impressions?
I had just made The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I stayed at the Chateau [Marmont] and had a meeting with Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner about some project. It was all very nice. Of course, nothing came of anything. A lot of fat is chewed in L.A. I wasn’t seduced. I was a bit excited about meeting famous people for a while, and there are some nice people there, but I knew I never wanted to live over the shop.

Has anyone ever rendered you starstruck?
Yeah. I was doing The Real Thing at the Plymouth [on Broadway]. There was a knock, and a voice said, “Mr. Irons.” I looked, and it was Paul Newman. He blew me away.

When you won the Best Actor Oscar for Reversal of Fortune, you thanked your Dead Ringers director David Cronenberg and said, “Some of you may understand why.” Tell me what you meant by that.
I’d made that film the year before, which got a lot of feedback in Hollywood [with people] saying, “It’s outrageous that you’re not nominated.” I was playing twin gynecologists, and it was quite eye-catching but not Oscar subject matter. But without that movie…This is why I thanked David Cronenberg.

Did the twins of the movie really die together, both from barbiturate withdrawal?
I don’t know whether it was cold turkey or…The problem is if you’re doing cold turkey and you take more drugs, you’re in trouble. They were found naked in their flat, just wearing socks.

When you were walking up to accept your Oscar, you stopped and kissed Madonna, who was sitting front row with Michael Jackson during their famous 1991 Oscar date.
I would have stopped to kiss to anybody!

Are you two chummy?
No! But at that moment, I nearly kissed Michael Jackson.

Can you enjoy a Jeremy Irons film the way the rest of us can?
It takes me about 20 years. I saw The Mission about 20 years after I made it, and I was able to see it quite dispassionately and see the guy on the screen. I thought, He looks a bit like my son. Who’s that?

You’ve had the same people in your inner circle for decades.
I like longevity. You get to know people, their ups and their downs, their goods and their bads. I’ve always thought the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

You’re known for having one of the greatest voices in the world. What is your favorite word to say?
Crepuscular. The crepuscular hour is when the sun dips. In movie terms, you call it the magic hour. I also like excellent. Excellent is a word I use because it’s very encouraging, and I learned long ago that when anybody came up with an idea I would say, “Excellent.”

But what if the person’s idea is actually horrible?
Well, you just don’t do it.

Stylist: Brandon Palas
Groomer: Helen Jeffers
Shirt: Ann Demeulemeester

Jeremy Irons Wall Street Journal Interview

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.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page D5

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Jeremy Irons on The View 3 March 2011

Screen caps from Jeremy Irons’s appearance on ABC’s The View from Thursday, March 3, 2011.  Jeremy was interviewed for about seven and a half minutes and discussed The Borgias.

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The Borgias – Cast Photos

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