Interview by MASSIMO GAGGI. Photos by BRIGITTE LACOMBE. Styling by SOFIA ODERO.
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An Italian-to-English translation of the interview is at the bottom of this post.
The Solitary Seducer
(Translated by Google and JeremyIrons.net)
Interview by MASSIMO GAGGI
Photos by BRIGITTE LACOMBE
Styling by SOFIA OD ERO
GROOMING: LOSI PER BIANCA BALCONIS
At 67, Jeremy Irons is still a sex symbol. A modern knight who drives a motorcycle and lives in a castle. Tornatore wanted his enigmatic appearance in The Correspondence.
“I wanted to be in one of the spy films based on the novels of John Le Carré. But there I have never succeeded, even when there was already an agreement with the production and the director: it was blocked by a veto from the writer. He has never forgiven me for an incident in my youth. I was 20, I was his neighbor in London. Our dogs quarreled among themselves and his got the worst. I didn’t apologise because it had been his dog to attack mine. He has never forgiven me. ”
The great actors willingly tell their achievements, their most important films, those for which they won awards. And Jeremy Irons has much to tell: Lolita is his most beloved film. And among the characters he’s played he does not give top priority to Claus VonBulow from Reversal of Fortune for which he won the Oscar, but to Father Gabriel, from The Mission, and to Esteban Trueba from The House of the Spirits.
In this long interview with an open heart to Style, however, Irons says much more: passions and disappointments also, the relationship with success, the need for solitude: sexy icon, acclaimed actor that, just may, retire in his castle in Ireland.
“You know that the first interview I gave in my life was to Corriere della Sera, when I was 16? “. Sitting at a table in a bar in Central Park South, Jeremy Irons talks about politics, of childhood sufferings, his relationship with insularity and the sea (he was born and raised on the Isle of Wight), his image of seducer, his style, his films, his love for Italian cinema, the perfect time for him is spent with dogs on the moor.
You were already in movies at 16 years old?
Nah, I went with my English friends to discover Europe. We had little money, we tried to keep playing. We were pretty good and one day, while we performed in the Galleria Umberto in Naples, a journalist came from the Corriere and he wrote a piece about our story.
With The Correspondence for Giuseppe Tornatore (the movie debuts on January 14, 2016) this is in his third meeting with the Italian cinema.
Do you love Italy or especially our directors?
I played in a Franco Zeffirelli film, with Bernardo Bertolucci and, now, with Tornatore. I knew him for Cinema Paradiso, but we had never met. I like directors who fall in love with their projects and he is one of those. I liked the story, my character, the setting. Especially the loneliness of the island of San Giulio, Lake Orta: I have a special relationship with the islands. The Italian directors have a particular talent in the audience emotionally involved in the story. Surely it is a skill of Tornatore.
Are there other Italian directors you would like to make a film with?
Certainly Paolo Sorrentino. I did him a spot with him for Fiat, years ago. Then I did not know him, since then I’ve seen his films, from Il Divo to La Grande Bellezza.
Jeremy prefers the honest craftsmen of European cinema, but he also goes to Hollywood, but doesn’t love the big U.S. productions. Immediately after The Correspondence, his next film to be released, in March 2016, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with him in the role of Alfred, the butler of Batman.
What convinced you to accept that role played in previous editions by Michael Caine?
I prefer Europe, it is true. In Hollywood, though, everything is changing with the cable TV networks that develop their hit series. But there are still big American productions that cannot be ignored. Batman I liked for the directing style and they left me full freedom to participate in the rewrite of the character. My Alfred is very active: more a pilot than a butler.
He told me of his favorite movies, about Lolita and about the hostility of the LeCarré incident that prevented him from playing a spy.
Are there roles you’re disappointed to have missed out on? Or films you’ve regretted?
I would have liked to have done Out of Africa, from the novel by Karen Blixen. But then, Robert Redford was stronger than me at the box office. As for the rest, I do not regret anything, not even the films that were more difficult, or those that went less well: I like to test myself even if it means falling on my face. It’s too easy to repeat what you already know how to do. Then, of course, some movies I made them because I needed the money: to restore my medieval castle cost a fortune. I will not tell what movies. It would not be elegant. But for those who know my films, it’s not hard to find them.
His image of a great seducer persists, despite his age. Being still an icon sexy at 67…there aren’t many. There was Paul Newman, Sean Connery and a few others. Is there a secret?
I do not feel like an icon. The charm attributed to me, I believe, comes mainly from the fact that in my career I’ve played a lot of enigmatic characters. People do not understand whether you’re good or bad, and this attracts, it involves.
The seductive look, his style, care of clothes, always boots on. What’s built into his character?
I like adventurous clothing, luggage, but not from Indiana Jones. As for boots, nothing is built. It’s just that I love to go on a motorcycle. I’ve just come from a ride in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The last time I left London I went to the airport by motorcycle. And when I finished shooting my penultimate film in Italy, Tuscany, Siena, I traveled back to Britain on two wheels. It’s my way to isolate myself from the world, to recover a bit of loneliness.
Does the need for insulation come from being the son of an island?
Wight is the origin of my insularity, sure. But I often need to be with myself – go sailing alone, go for long rides, ride a bike or ride with my dog; also because my childhood was difficult. My parents sent me to boarding school, like many in England. But I went in seven years too early, the separation from family was traumatic. Gradually I learned to be by myself, but I also became a loner. I know being with people, I have to manage the more public role, traveling the world. But often I also need to retire to my loneliness. And you know, wherever I am, that in Ireland there is my fortress waiting for me, the children and Sinéad (Cusack), my extraordinary wife. An actress herself, she understands me like no one else.