Jeremy Irons Attends Four Quartets Prize Ceremony

Text via Poetry Society of America on Facebook:

On Friday, April 13, 2018, the Poetry Society of America hosted a private reception at the National Arts Club in celebration of the inaugural Four Quartets Prize. The prize is presented by the T.S. Eliot Foundation in partnership with the Poetry Society of America and is launching in the 75th anniversary year of the original publication of Four Quartets in a single volume, in America, in 1943. The award recognizes a unified and complete sequence of poems published in America in a print or online journal, chapbook, or book in 2016 and/or 2017. The judges, Linda Gregerson, Ishion Hutchinson, and Jana Prikryl, selected finalists Geoffrey G. O’Brien for “Experience in Groups” from Experience in Groups (Wave Books); Kathleen Pierce for Vault: a poem (New Michigan Press); and Danez Smith for “summer, somewhere” from Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press).

At the ceremony, Jeremy Irons announced Danez Smith as the winner.

Learn more at poetrysociety.org

All photos by Beowulf Sheehan

Watch the livestream of Jeremy announcing the Four Quartets Prize winner:

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Jeremy Irons Reads ‘Four Quartets’ at 92Y

Jeremy Irons was at the 92nd Street Y, in New York City, on Thursday 12 April 2018, to read T.S. Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’.

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Text via 92Y.org – “Seventy-five years after the publication of “Four Quartets” — and nearly seventy years since T. S. Eliot himself read from the poem in his Poetry Center debut — Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons returns to 92Y’s stage to present the masterwork in its entirety. This special event coincides with the awarding of the inaugural Four Quartets Prize, presented by the T. S. Eliot Foundation in association with the Poetry Society of America, as well as the CD release of Irons reading all of Eliot’s poems.

Guests in attendance included Sinead Cusack, Glenn Close, Laurence Fishburne, Melissa Errico, Griffin Dunne, Tyne Daly, producer Ed Pressman and his wife Annie, actor Josh Hamilton and his wife playwright Lily Thorne, and Alice Quinn – Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America.

Before he read the ‘Four Quartets’, Jeremy offered some background information on T.S. Eliot and on the themes and locations mentioned in the poems. He also offered some words of wisdom when it comes to listening to poetry and also reading poetry.

Jeremy said he often tells audiences before he reads the poems: “Don’t get worried about the specifics…about the little moments…about the classical allegories or analogies or whatever that he [the poet] pops in. That meant something to him, but if it doesn’t mean anything to you, it isn’t important. Just listen, let it wash over you. Don’t be too specific or pedantic in the way you listen. And maybe something will be transmitted over and above the poem.”

Jeremy mentioned that T.S. Eliot wrote: “A recording of a poem read by its author is no more definitive an interpretation than a recording of a symphony conducted by the composer. A poem, if it’s of any depth and complexity, will have meanings in it concealed from the author. And should be capable of being read in many ways and with a variety of emotional emphases. A good poem, indeed, is one which even the most inexpert reading cannot wholly ruin and which even the most accomplished reading cannot exhaust. Another reader reciting the poem needn’t feel bound to reproduce these rhythms. If he studied the author’s version, he can assure himself he’s departing from it deliberately and not from ignorance.”

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On Friday 13 April 2018, at The National Arts Club at Gramercy Park in New York City, Jeremy was on hand to present the inaugural Four Quartets Prize to poet Danez Smith. Read more about that event from LitHub.

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Jeremy Irons on ‘Loose Ends’ BBC Radio 4

Jeremy Irons was a guest, on Saturday 7 April 2018, of the BBC Radio 4 programme Loose Ends.  Hosts Clive Anderson and Arthur Smith were joined by Jeremy Irons, Catherine Tate, Tracy Ann Oberman and James Graham. Music was performed by Honeyfeet.

Visit the BBC Radio 4 website HERE.

Click on the player below to listen to the episode:

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Better Start Running – Website, Trailer & More

Jeremy Irons’s upcoming film Better Start Running has a new website which features the first official trailer, photo gallery, clips, interviews and more.

Better Start Running also stars Alex Sharp, Analeigh Tipton, Edi Gathegi, Karan Soni, Maria Bello and Jane Seymour.

Check out the website at betterstartrunningmovie.com

Visit the site using a desktop computer for additional video.

Also, follow Better Start Running on social media:
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Here’s the first official trailer:

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Screencaps from the trailer and clips:

Better Start Running to Premiere at Newport Beach Film Festival

Jeremy Irons’s film Better Start Running (formerly titled Monumental) will have its world premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival on 28 April 2018.

The film will screen again on April 30th. The full line up for the festival will be announced Sunday 1st April, when tickets go on sale.

Follow Better Start Running on social media:

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

The Poetic Side of Jeremy Irons – WSJ.com

The Poetic Side of Jeremy Irons

The actor’s latest project: reading the poems of T.S. Eliot.

Nearly a decade ago, actor Jeremy Irons was reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot at an event at London’s British Library, and to his surprise, the poet’s widow, Valerie, who was then in her 80s, showed up. After the performance, he spoke to her, and she told him, in words he happily recalls today, “I think you are today’s voice for Eliot.”

Mr. Irons thinks that she may have been reacting to his straightforward approach to the reading. “I read what came to me off the page, without much intellectual study,” he says. Later, when getting ready to perform other poems by Eliot, he experimented with reading the lines with a lot of personality and acting, and then tried reading them with “nothing,” just straight off the page. He stuck with the latter. “I just try to become a voice,” he says.

Across his long film and television career, the 69-year-old actor is especially known for portraying historical or literary figures, such as Claus von Bülow in the 1990 film “Reversal of Fortune,” for which he won an Academy Award, Humbert Humbert in “Lolita” (1997), and Pope Alexander VI in the Showtime series “The Borgias” (2011-2013).

Before the reading in London years ago, Mr. Irons hadn’t read much of Eliot’s poetry. Now he has read all of Eliot’s major works, from “The Hollow Men” to “The Waste Land.” Next month, his audiobook recording “The Poems of T.S. Eliot” will be released, 75 years after the publication of Eliot’s “Four Quartets.”

That set of four poems, about the nature of time and the cycle of life, “is for me the apogee of his work,” Mr. Irons says. They reflect the struggle to get to “the still point of the turning world,” free from living in the past or the future. As Eliot writes, “The inner freedom from the practical desire, / The release from action and suffering, release from the inner / And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded / By a grace of sense…”

Mr. Irons says that he’s tried to get to his own still point by meditating occasionally, but he jokes that he more effectively gets there by smoking a cigarette on his own. “This isn’t getting as deep as I think Eliot is trying to get, but what I do is I smoke and I get out of noisy places and noisy dinners and I stand on the sidewalk or on the terrace,” he says. “I can’t bear the constant prattle of life.”

‘I’ve always thought acting was more about listening than talking,’ says Mr. Irons. Photo: Perou for The Wall Street Journal; Grooming by Tahira

Mr. Irons, who grew up on the Isle of Wight in England, trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. One of his first major parts was in the 1981 television series “Brideshead Revisited,” based on the book by Evelyn Waugh. Since then he has acted in many other films and television shows inspired by books, such as the 2015 dystopian drama “High-Rise,” based on a J.G. Ballard novel. “I think it’s very rare that you get a film that’s better than a book, but you can find some that are almost as good,” Mr. Irons says.

When it comes to doing historical re-enactments, he thinks the characters and plot must reflect “the attitudes and understanding of life that they had at the time,” he says. He thought it was important that “The Borgias” reflected the nature of his character, Pope Alexander VI, who is notorious for his schemes to use the papacy to expand the power of his Borgia line, as well as for his many mistresses.

His new audiobook compiles readings of Eliot’s poetry that he originally did for BBC Radio. He thinks of poems and modern art the same way: Both are best understood emotionally rather than intellectually. “I know a lot of modern art goes over my head because I look at it and go, ‘It doesn’t mean anything to me.’ But sometimes you look at it and you’re just sort of gobsmacked.”

He applies a similar philosophy to acting as to reading poetry. He tries to be careful not to overact. He also aims to listen and react to the other actors in a scene. “I’ve always thought acting was more about listening than talking,” he says. He’s now starring in the London production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” which will travel to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in May and then the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles in June.

In his down time, he and his wife, Sinéad Cusack, spend time at their castle in Ireland. Built in the 15th century and recently restored, it looks like it could be the setting for one of his period pieces. “I like walking, and I think Ireland suits my nature best of all and Los Angeles least of all,” he says. He spends as little time in L.A. as possible. “My instinct is not to live over the shop,” he says.

If he could pick a different era to live in, which would it be? “I think 1900 to 1912 was an extraordinary time,” he says, “and I think between the wars was a mad time and also quite fun to be around.” But he says that he’s satisfied enough with the present. “I’m happy to be healthy and alive when I am.”

Photos by Perou – www.perou.co.uk

Grooming by Tahira – www.beautybytahira.com

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Photo by Perou. Grooming by Tahira.

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Photo by Perou. Grooming by Tahira.

Jeremy Irons – AHF / JW3 Speaker Series

On Monday 26 March 2018, Jeremy Irons was “In Conversation” with Tania Bryer, as part of The Alan Howard Foundation / JW3 Speaker Series, at JW3 in London.

[Scroll down for photos from the event.]

Event Summary via www.ahf-jw3series.com

British Oscar winner Jeremy Irons regaled a rapt audience with tales of acting, family life and philanthropy at JW3 cultural centre in London on 26 March 2018.

Being interviewed by the veteran TV presenter Tania Bryer live on stage, Irons said his current theatre role in ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ has been a personal journey. “It’s been great to get fit mentally and physically. I thought I’d better do the role of James Tyrone now while I’ve got the energy.”

“The hardest thing is to keep the mental freshness and agility on stage night after night. It’s hard to keep the scenes electric for yourself. Sometimes it helps to have an interesting day – eat well, exercise and do something new – and this energy carries over into the role.”

Irons added: “It’s a strangely difficult role, it took me three months to learn the script as remembering is harder as you get older.”

How does Irons feel about being 70-years-old this year? “It’s terrifying. I’m going to start a long mourning period for the rest of my life,” he said, only half in jest.

The actor’s presence on the JW3 stage was just as charismatic as the TV, film, and theatre roles he is so well regarded for.  Highly at ease with the audience, Irons told a series of punchline-perfect tales about his unconventional ascent into the higher echelons of Hollywood.

Irons, who was born on the Isle of Wight and went to Sherborne private school, told the audience, “I’d always wanted to be a vet but then I realised I was terrible at science. By the time I left school I really had no idea what I wanted to do.”

For a while after leaving school he aspired to improve the world as a social worker in south London, but changed his mind after colleagues advised him ‘not to get involved’ with his clients when, in fact, ‘involved was what I wanted to be’.

However, it was while being a poorly paid social worker that he was pushed to top up his earnings with busking in cinema queues. “I earned a fortune and I decided I liked the performing life, the travelling life of an artist. I wanted to perform, even join a circus…”

Later, a drama teacher told Irons he would look ‘alright on the side of the stage if he learned to stand up straight’. From there, Iron’s acting bug and love of the ‘gluey smells of the theatre’ took him on a journey that saw the actor take on parts from Shakespeare to the Simpsons and appear in acclaimed films with Hollywood glitterati of the likes of Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro.

Of Streep he said, “She taught me it’s all about the work, it’s not about you. Give everything to your work.” Irons said Streep’s words remain with him today. “I’m not one for advice, but one thing I tell my kids is, ‘What ever you do, do it the best you can, that will give you pleasure and you will gain the respect of others’.”

It was in 1981 that Irons’s career really launched into the stratosphere with the airing of the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ and the 11-part TV series ‘Brideshead Revisited’. “It was strange. I suddenly saw myself on the front of four supplements, and I hated it…” Irons told the audience.

Ten years later, the actor clinched an Oscar for his lead role in ‘Reversal of Fortune’. “I kissed everyone near me. I even kissed Madonna – who I don’t know. I thought about kissing Michael Jackson too, but something stopped me,” Irons jested.

Of his feelings on fame, Irons said: “I went undercover for a bit. Eventually I realised that being famous just means you live in a global village, the world becomes your village where people know you. It’s a wonderful way to live because most people know you and trust you and that’s what we all want.”

He added: “Cities are so faceless. We need people around us to know who we are and when we don’t have that it causes loneliness. I choose to polish that side of the coin.”

Amid all his acting and family endeavours, Irons still finds the time for philanthropic works. “We, as actors. have profile so we can give profile to charities. It gives me pleasure to give something back, as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true.”

Currently Irons supports The Prison Phoenix Trust, The Hope Foundation, Amnesty International, HRH’s Children & the Arts and many more.

How does the veteran actor fit find the time to fit it all in? “You’ve got to know what you want and work at it until you get there. Life is like a darts board, you need to have a sharp point about what you want, and then you need to aim.”