‘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’
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.