Jeremy Irons Contributes to ‘Poems That Make Grown Men Cry’

Jeremy Irons has chosen a poem to be included in the new book Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, by Anthony Holden and Ben Holden.  The book, produced in partnership with Amnesty International, will be published in April 2014.

poems that make grown men cry

The book is available to pre-order from Amazon.com

In this fascinating anthology, one hundred men—distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theater and human rights—confess to being moved to tears by poems that continue to haunt them. Representing twenty nationalities and ranging in age from their early 20s to their late 80s, the majority are public figures not prone to crying. Here they admit to breaking down when ambushed by great art, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves.

On 29 April 2014, at 6:00pm at the Lyttleton Theatre, selections from the book will be read.  More information and a link to purchase tickets can be found HERE.

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

Grown men aren’t supposed to cry. Anthony and Ben Holden, and Kate Allen (Director, Amnesty International UK), introduce readings from poems that haunt a host of eminent men; they explain why, in words as moving as the poems themselves.

With Melvyn Bragg, Ian McEwan, Mike Leigh, Simon McBurney, Ben Okri and Simon Russell Beale; directed by Richard Eyre.

This Platform is followed by a booksigning.
When you buy your copy from the NT Bookshop, every purchase benefits the NT’s work.

Conversation: Uncovering the Bard with Jeremy Irons

View the original blog posting HERE.

Follow Jeffrey Brown on Twitter @JeffreyBrown

Follow PBS News Hour Art Beat on Twitter @NewsHourArtBeat

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

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

JEREMY IRONS: Hello, nice to talk to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JEFFREY BROWN: Forced on them, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry IV, Part 2 – Video, Screencaps & Reviews

The Hollow Crown: Henry IV: Part 2, BBC Two, review – from The Telegraph

The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 2, BBC Two
Irons’s ailing king steals Shakespearean diptych
– from The Arts Desk

The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 2 continued the series in brilliant fashion – from Metro.co.uk

Review: The Hollow Crown – Henry IV Part 2 – from The Yorker

The Hollow Crown, Henry IV Part Two. B.B.C. Television Review – from LS Media – The Independent Liverpool Student Newspaper

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Henry IV, Part 1 – Video

Follow the links below to watch The Hollow Crown: Henry IV, Part 1

Part 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgZYAUQ9Wno

Part 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSmPplAquJE&feature=relmfu

Part 3 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKm6QCifJ08&feature=relmfu

Part 4 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8k1Fg_Oquk&feature=relmfu

Part 5 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMRZkQlz8wY&feature=relmfu

Part 6 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXaaG0GMh1E&feature=relmfu

Part 7 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKqFmcEHAiQ&feature=relmfu

Part 8 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIQqtFnDnOw&feature=relmfu

Part 9 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRWk1NqEjPY&feature=relmfu

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Shakespeare Uncovered Episode 5 – Jeremy Irons on the Henrys

_______________________________________________________________________________

From the BBC TV Blog – Henry IV & Henry V: Q&A with the Costume Designer

Jeremy Irons goes Henry IV into battle

Liverpool Echo 30 June 2012

After almost a decade, Jeremy Irons is returning to Shakespeare, as King Henry IV in a new BBC series. Acting’s good, he tells Kate Whiting, but what he really loves doing is tinkering with his boat.

IN A snow-covered field just a stone’s throw from the M25, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston and a heavily disguised Simon Russell Beale are doing battle.

It’s a surreal sight, as Jeremy and Tom, in chain mail and red capes, charge back and forth on horses through a throng of armour-clad men, while Russell Beale, in a fat-suit and clasping a spear, runs comically away from just about everyone in his path.

On hills either side of the small valley are camps of ancient tents and, were it not for the camera crew in modern-day dress, you could almost imagine it was Medieval England. Even the sounds of the M25 have been muffled, much to director Richard Eyre’s relief, thanks to the snow.

But this is January, 2012, and the scene being filmed is the climax of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I, where the future Henry V, young Prince Hal, will defeat rebel leader Hotspur, ultimately taking his place in history.

Some time earlier, in the comfort of a heated modern tent, which doubles as wardrobe and canteen for the battling mob, Jeremy Irons, who’s playing the titular king, settles down to discuss his first Shakespeare play since the 2004 Merchant Of Venice film.

He looks every inch the lauded British thespian, dressed in a red woolly jumper, Middle Eastern scarf, cords and high black boots, with a backwards cap on his head – chic but cosy.

“Shakespeare is wonderful to come back to, you forget how fertile his language is,” says the 63-year-old, in those deep, familiar tones.

“You get used to working in film, where language is spare and often not well written and suddenly you get back to this language, his use of rhythm, the choice of words, the way he changes from one thought to another on a sixpence, which is glorious.

“It’s like driving an Aston Martin and you think, ‘Oh yes, this can do anything, once I get to know how to do it’. Once you’ve done some of those big roles, even though you might not have done it for a few years, you know the possibilities, you know what you’re looking for – which is to make it sound completely colloquial and understandable to an audience.”

Indeed, with their season of four Shakespeare history plays, entitled The Hollow Crown, it’s the BBC’s mission to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. As part of the Cultural Olympiad in the run-up to London 2012, the Shakespeare Unlocked season charts the rise and fall of three kings; self-indulgent Richard II (played by Ben Whishaw) who is overthrown by his cousin Bolingbroke, Henry IV, and finally his son Henry V.

The two parts of Henry IV tell of the king’s guilt over deposing his cousin and struggle to retain the crown, as his enemies rise up against him.

In recent years, Jeremy, who made his name in the 1981 ITV series Brideshead Revisited before starring in films such as Lolita, The Mission, The Lion King and the Oscar-winning Reversal Of Fortune, has returned to TV acting, with an acclaimed role in the US drama The Borgias. Next month, he’s off to Budapest to film the third series.

Television has become more appealing as film budgets dwindle, he says.

“Movies are really having a problem. The sort of pictures I make, what I call the £8m to £30m, are not made very easily now. The £200m are getting made and the £1m movies are getting made, but the ones in the middle are finding it very hard.

“I’ve been watching the series that are coming out of America and there’s such good writing happening. Mad Men, The Wire, Damages, this is really good drama, good writing.”

When he does get a break from his acting schedule, Jeremy has more than enough at home in Ireland to keep him busy.

“I love downtime because there are many other things I love doing,” he says simply. “I’ve always been a doer-upper of things. In the early days it was furniture, then it became houses. Now I have a boat and horses, which is very lucky.

“At one stage, during my 30s, I remember leaving the house thinking, ‘Why do I have to work, there’s so much I want to get done?’. Then I thought, ‘Careful, you have to work in order to support the life you want to live’.”

And with that, Jeremy is off to ride a horse – for work.

The Hollow Crown begins on BBC Two today. Jeremy Irons appears in Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 on Saturday, July 7 and Saturday, July 14

Read More http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-entertainment/showbiz-news/2012/06/30/jeremy-irons-goes-henry-iv-into-battle-100252-31289207/#ixzz1zH4aizR8

The Hollow Crown – As good as TV Shakespeare can get?

From the Guardian.co.uk

The Hollow Crown: as good as TV Shakespeare can get?

The BBC’s new Shakespeare films, starting this weekend with Richard II, show that the Bard can play as well on TV as in the theatre

During TV conferences and festivals, at least one delegate always argues that Shakespeare, if he were around today, would be writing EastEnders or Holby City. This claim is based on the fact that theatre, at the time Shakespeare’s plays were written, was a mass audience form rather than the relatively elitist entertainment it has become; and also, more subtly, on the contention that the playwright’s fondness for parallel plots and cross-cutting to some extent anticipates screen narrative.

And yet, despite these affinities, Will has always tested the will of TV producers. The BBC TV Shakespeare – a late 1970s attempt to film all 37 plays as an educational tool – became a headline calamity, helping to establish Clive James’s reputation as a critic through his pitiless Observer reviews of shaking scenery and stagey acting. The original production of Much Ado About Nothing (starring Penelope Keith and Michael York) was never transmitted because, according to the minutes of BBC management meetings I have seen, it was considered such a failure.

The original producer, the late Cedric Messina, left the project and Jonathan Miller came in as an emergency replacement. Miller steadied the shipwreck – with productions including John Cleese as a brilliant Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew – and it’s good to have a permanent record of, for example, Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet. But, in general, the experience cemented the view that Shakespeare is a weapon to be deployed on television only when particular performances called to be immortalised – Laurence Olivier’s King Lear and Ian McKellen’s and Judi Dench’s Macbeths on ITV, Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth by the BBC – or when there is a special occasion, such as BBC licence fee renegotiation or, this summer, as part of the Cultural Olympiad alongside the London Games.

Bringing together four of the Shakesperean English history plays under a group of high-class stage directors, The Hollow Crown begins this weekend on BBC2 and marks a significant advance in the medium’s fight with this writer.

The troubled BBC Complete Shakespeare taught several lessons – that not all of the works merit the attention of the audience; that studio recordings create an uneasy limbo between theatre and TV; that the pace and fluidity of made-for-TV dramas can make stage plays seem slow and staid; and that it is vital to have an overall producer who understands both Shakespeare and film.

The Hollow Crown brings a full set of ticks to this checklist. Present from the start, rather than parachuted in as Jonathan Miller was, Sam Mendes has executive produced the series, while also presiding over another English cultural icon: the new James Bond movies.

And this BBC TV Shakespeare is sensibly restricted to a discrete and particular 9% or so of the collected works. The linked sequence of Richard II (directed by Rupert Goold), Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 (filmed by Sir Richard Eyre) and Henry V (under Thea Sharrock’s direction) tell a sequential story, with recurring characters and so have a structural similarity with the four-part family drama, a staple of TV fiction. In this sense, The Hollow Crown can be seen as a relative of The Tudors, though with significantly better dialogue.

Mendes and his directors have also assimilated the wisdom of TV property shows: what matters in filming Shakspeare is location, location, location. Instead of a studio mediaeval England formed from hardboard, we get actual castles, taverns and forests.

The two productions that I have so far seen – Richard II and the first part of Henry IV – also convincingly show that, rather than being a triumph over limitations, filmed Shakespeare has some advantages over theatrical versions. In the often-bewildering opening scene of Richard II, which begins with a list of characters and their achievements, Goold’s camera can simply close in on the noble being mentioned, easily establishing characters in a way that, in the theatre, would require much fumbling with a programme in the dark.

And, in Henry IV, Eyre employs every trick of cinematic fluidity to match the quick flow of modern screen drama: cross-cutting and dissolving between the three main locations (the court, the rebels, Falstaff’s dens) and turning soliloquies into their natural screen equivalent of voice-overs.

Another benefit of television is the available cast: because it isn’t asking for a three-month run or global tour to make the budget back, The Hollow Crown simultaneously retains a group of actors that even the most famous theatres could only accumulate over several seasons. Theatre-goers have long anticipated Simon Russell Beale’s eventual Falstaff but he gives it here first: cloud-bearded and earthy, a portrait of ambition and intelligence chiselled away by appetite. And, if SRB does play Falstaff in the theatre, it is highly unlikely, for budgetary and logistical reasons, to be in a company that also includes Julie Walters, Lindsay Duncan, David Suchet and David Morrissey.

There remains a basic flaw in the theory that because Shakepeare was a populist writer in his time, he should naturally suit TV now: the mainstream television audience, often made suspicious of classic theatre by education and school theatre outings, would take much persuasion to tune in to these dramas. But, despite that caveat, The Hollow Crown feels as good as TV Shakespeare is going to get.

Telegraph Review – At home with the histories

From artyprettykipple on Tumblr

Click on the image for full size and to read the text:

Shakespeare Unlocked: The Sunday Times Spectrum Magazine

Behind the scenes of the BBC’s Shakespeare Unlocked season.

From The Sunday Times Sunday 24 June 2012

SOURCE OF ORIGINAL SCANS and also THIS SOURCE

Click images for full size to read the text:

Filming Underway on Henry IV

Filming is underway on Henry IV

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Production on Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 has begun. A cast read-through took place the first week of January. Filming began on the 9th and will last nine weeks for both films. Locations include Caerphilly Castle in Wales, which is apparently being used as the site of Hotspur’s meeting with Owen Glendower. Filming also took place at Ashridge.

Filming will take place at Gloucester Cathedral from 25 January, for about two weeks.

In February, filming moves to Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire.

From the official BBC Press Release:

Continuing with the incredibly high standard set by Richard II, Jeremy Irons plays the role of King Henry IV in this production adapted and directed by Richard Eyre. Tom Hiddleston joins the cast as Prince Hal, Simon Russell Beale plays Falstaff and Alun Armstrong plays the Earl of Northumberland. Lady Northumberland is played by Niamh Cusack with Hotspur played by Joe Armstrong.

As with Richard II and Henry V, these bold adaptations are set in the medieval period and are being shot at some of the UK’s most stunning locations. The films will bring a new scale to Shakespeare in one of the most ambitious television projects of recent years.

Henry IV, Part 1 is expected to air on BBC2 in the summer of 2012 along with the other three films in the series: Richard II, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V. The four films will also be shown in the U.S. on Great Performances on PBS.

‘Henry IV’ Starring Jeremy Irons – Definitive Cast List

From the BBC Media Centre:

The definitive cast list for the BBC Two Shakespeare films including Henry IV (Parts I and II) has been confirmed.

Featuring some of the greatest Shakespearean actors and directors of our time, four films have been commissioned by BBC Two for their Shakespeare season in 2012 as part of the BBC’s contribution to the London 2012 Festival and the Cultural Olympiad. The films were commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two.

Set in the medieval period, these bold adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most acclaimed history plays will produce some of the most ambitious television of recent years. As principal photography begins on Henry V, the previously announced Kings – Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston – will be joined by a phenomenal ensemble cast.

Ben Whishaw said: “Playing Richard II has been a hugely rewarding experience. Working on this beautiful play with Rupert Goold and an amazing cast has been one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my career.”

Jeremy Irons said: “I am most grateful to have this opportunity of returning to Shakespeare, to film under the experienced eye of Richard Eyre, alongside such exciting actors.”

Tom Hiddleston said: “I am incredibly proud and privileged to be playing Prince Hal and Henry V in these new adaptations. He was one of England’s great kings and one of Shakespeare’s great men, and it is an extraordinary honour to have been asked to play him. I will be steeped in mud, blood, and warrior poetry for the next four months, led by two of the greatest directors working today, alongside a group of actors I have admired and respected all my life. I can’t wait.”

Henry IV (Parts I and II)

The second and third films will see Jeremy Irons (The Borgias) playing Henry IV, supported by Tom Hiddleston (Thor) as Prince Hal. Simon Russell Beale (Spooks) will play Falstaff and Julie Walters (Mamma Mia, Mo) will play Mistress Quickly. Hotspur will be played by Joe Armstrong (Robin Hood) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) is to play Lady Percy alongside Maxine Peake (Criminal Justice) as Doll Tearsheet. Lady Northumberland will be played by Niamh Cusack (A Touch of Frost) with Alun Armstrong (New Tricks) as Northumberland. Reece Shearsmith (The League Of Gentlemen) will play the role of Davy, Tom Georgeson (Notes on a Scandal) will play Bardolph, Pistol will be played by Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) and Douglas Henshall (South Riding) will play Mowbray. Iain Glen (Downton Abbey) will play Warwick and Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By) will play Lord Chief Justice.

Completing the confirmed cast of Henry IV are Henry Faber, James Laurenson, David Hayman, Robert Pugh, Alex Clatworthy, Stephen McCole, David Dawson, Ian Conningham and Nick Jones.

Henry IV Production Designer is Donal Woods (Downton Abbey, Cranford). Director of Photography is Ben Smithard (Cranford) with Annie Symons (Gideon’s Daughter, The Crimson Petal and the White) as Costume Designer.

Henry IV is directed and adapted for the screen by Richard Eyre (Notes on a Scandal, Iris). Filming on Henry IV will begin in January 2012.

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