Jeremy Irons Plays Himself – The Village Voice

Jeremy Irons Plays Himself

‘You bring to it what you have as a person,’ the actor says of his approach to Eugene O’Neill’s James Tyrone in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

by Harry Haun

The voice is the sound of what one critic called “chocolate on gravel,” and it’s served Jeremy Irons superbly for close to four decades. It won him a 1984 Tony for The Real Thing, a 1991 Oscar for Reversal of Fortune, and a 2006 Emmy for Elizabeth I — plus a couple of auxiliary Emmys for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance (1996’s The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century) and Outstanding Narrator (2012’s Big Cat Week). Yet still he falls one award short of a full EGOT sweep. That could change soon. Last year, Irons cleared his throat and went gunning for that elusive Grammy, applying all his mellifluent might to recording the complete works of T.S. Eliot for the BBC. (A four-CD set of this is currently in release, from Faber & Faber.)

Giving voice to two of the last century’s greatest writers is something Irons brings off with effortless aplomb and assurance. Prior to taking on O’Neill’s demons at BAM, he had a night at the 92nd Street Y, doing an hour-long recitation of his favorite Eliot. He didn’t just read the poetry — he acted it, in a natural and uninsistent manner that made it movingly accessible to the rapt, sold-out house.

“The Cats poems are lovely, and The Waste Land is fantastic, and some of the others are great — but, for me, Four Quartets is his arpège, where it all comes together,” Irons says somberly. “It’s where I think people try to get when they meditate. It’s what some Indian gurus have. I think Four Quartets is an attempt, over four poems, to describe what that is and how one gets to it. It’s imperfect, but it contains wonderful ideas which only poetry really can get near. You couldn’t do it in prose, and you really couldn’t do it verbally describing it. It’s like Leonard Cohen’s line, ‘Look for the cracks — that’s where the light gets in.’ I’m a great believer in that. I think that there are many cracks in Four Quartets, but it has a great luminosity as a poem.”

Irons owes his introduction to Eliot to the late Josephine Hart, whose novel Damage was the basis of his 1992 Louis Malle film of the same name with Juliette Binoche. “Josephine did poetry readings and got me to read quite a bit of Eliot. His widow, Valerie Eliot, attended a lot of them, and she told me once afterwards, ‘I think you’re today’s voice of Eliot. Every period has its own Eliot voice, and I think you are today’s. I’d love for you to record as much as you can of him.’ So I recorded it all for the BBC. We put it out all in one day on Radio 4 on the first of January [2017] — eight hours of poetry, and all Eliot.”

He approached these poems much the way he approaches a character. “I’m not very intellectual as a person,” says the man who tosses off “arpège” and “luminosity” like bonbons. “I never studied Eliot till I had to record it, and then I really studied it — but not as an intellectual, just as an instinctive actor. ‘What do those lines mean?’ ‘What feeling was he trying to get across?’ I approached it that way, saying, ‘This has to be between me and him, between Jeremy and Eliot. What does it mean to you, Jeremy? And can I pass that on to the listener?’ I think — with Four Quartets — we did that.”

Irons’s entry level into O’Neill’s autobiographical “play of old sorrow” was a much straighter shot: The career path not taken by James Tyrone, the play’s penny-pinching patriarch, notably parallels his own — a comparison Irons himself invites. Both were seduced by Dame Success, opting for the easy, commercial route instead of one that tightened their grasp on their craft. Rather than challenge himself as an actor with Shakespeare and such, Tyrone took the popular path and endlessly toured in his signature hit, The Count of Monte Cristo. Similarly, when Brideshead Revisited brought Irons forth in 1981, stage took an emphatic back seat to screen. He had started in movies the year before, and now has amassed some ninety credits.

The closest Irons has come to a comparable Count of Monte Cristo cash-cow concession has been butlering for Batman as Alfred Pennyworth. “That role only needs me for a month or two every year, but I do see that compromise, and I can easily understand it — even though the business is not now like it was when Tyrone was an actor. Back then, there were potboilers, and there was Shakespeare. Now, there’s film and TV — not so much Shakespeare — but I do look at actors like Sir Ian McKellen and think, ‘Well, if I’d really worked my socks off, I could have gone for that sort of career and done movies later.’ But I distinctly remember when I was making movies and he wasn’t, he deeply wanted to be.”

Save for a filmed Merchant of Venice in 2004, when he played Antonio to Al Pacino’s Shylock, Irons has all but abandoned the Bard for movies. But, before cinema called, he got off a good lick playing Petruchio (to Zoë Wanamaker’s Kate), and another later, in 1986, playing Richard II. The Melancholy Dane got away, “but I don’t regret it. I would have liked to have done it. There was a time in my career when I was trying to get Harold Pinter to direct it. I think everyone’s got a Hamlet in them, but it’d be lovely to have a really interesting, transcendental viewpoint on the play. And I would have liked to have done Benedict, also. There are a lot of Shakespearean roles that would have been fun, but I would have liked to have done more. You can’t do everything, you know.

“It’s different now. I don’t think — had I not made movies — I could have had the sort of career Olivier had, for instance, because we don’t do that many plays. I remember reading his autobiography — and I think at the end of chapter two there was a list that took a whole page of the plays he’d done. They listed them all, and they said at the end, ‘And he had done this by the time he was 27.’ You couldn’t do that now.”

Laurence Olivier was the first James Tyrone that Irons ever saw, and it’s with him still. “I saw him do it with Constance Cummings when I was in my twenties. He was such a brilliant actor. It was the last production they did at his National Theater, and it was sorta iconic. It remains iconic, certainly, in memory. At the time, it was great.” He continues, “I saw the film with Katie Hepburn and Ralph Richardson — with moderate rapture.” Spencer Tracy turned down Tyrone because he couldn’t see himself as an aging matinee idol. “Maybe he’s right, but I think he would have been absolutely perfect,” Irons counters.

Irons also recalls a speedy, sharply edited edition that Jonathan Miller directed with Jack Lemmon and Bethel Leslie in the mid Eighties, as well as the most recent Broadway revival with Gabriel Byrne and a Tony-winning Jessica Lange. “I think it’s always Mary’s play. Hers is the journey, and the three men are coping with that journey. I think if it’s not her journey, if it’s not her play, then there is something missing.”

These are the performances that filed through Irons’s mind as he was preparing his own James Tyrone. “When I watched the play before I knew I would do it, I always gave into the play. But, once I knew I was going to do it, I thought, ‘I want to see what other people have come up with and see whether I can learn anything from them.’

Now “next door to seventy,” Irons could himself step into the septuagenarian roles played in his Brideshead breakout by a pair of legends — John Gielgud and Olivier. The latter, in particular, was acutely instructive on that project. “It was a great eye-opener for me because I saw [Olivier as a] tiger,” he remembers, “this tiger who was watching while other people rehearse — what they were doing, how he could shine. I thought, ‘Ah, so it never leaves you. You never become secure as an actor. You’re always watching, watching, watching…’ ”

Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville on The Andrew Marr Show

Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville were guests of Andrew Marr, to discuss Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  The segment, filmed at Wyndham’s Theatre, aired on Sunday 18 February 2018.

UK Residents – Watch it on iPlayer

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Photo by Jeff Overs

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Photo by Jeff Overs

 

Jeremy Irons Photographed by Matthieu Camille Colin

French photographer Matthieu Camille Colin photographed Jeremy Irons backstage at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London, on Sunday 11 February 2018.

Visit his website – https://www.alcibiade-portrait.com/

Follow Matthieu on Instagram @camille_colin79 and on Twitter @alcibiadeparis

Thank you to Matthieu for the use of these images. Thank you to Katy Riddell, Laura Flowers, Wyndham’s Theatre and, of course, Jeremy Irons, for making this photoshoot happen.

Please, be respectful of the photographer.  Do not appropriate these images to other websites without full credit.  Do not crop or alter the images in any way.

Images are available for purchase.  Contact Matthieu HERE.

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Jeremy Irons on Amanpour

Jeremy Irons was a guest of Christiane Amanpour on Thursday 8 February 2018, on her CNN International programme.

Full video – SOURCE

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Jeremy Irons in British GQ – March 2018

Jeremy Irons is featured in the March 2018 issue of British GQ magazine, as part of The GQ Theatrical Portfolio.

Story by Jonathan Heaf. Photographs by Charlie Gray. Styling by Grace Gilfeather.

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BAM 2018 Gala to Honour Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons is among those being honoured at the 2018 BAM Gala on Wednesday 30 May 2018.

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6:30pm – Cocktails & Silent Art Auction

7:30pm – Dinner & Program

                  Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (72 Bowne Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn)

9pm – After Party & Art Auction Closing (auction closes at 11pm)

            Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn)

Single tickets are $2500 (includes the Dinner and After Party ) and $5,000 (includes the Dinner, After Party, and listing as a member of the Benefit Committee in select materials).

There are also Party-Only tickets  available that are $150 and tables ranging from $25K to $100K. Tables seat ten guests.

More details, including the formal print invitation and the ticket order form will be released soon.

More information from Broadway World:

On May 30, BAM honors filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, actor Jeremy Irons, and philanthropists Nora Ann Wallace and Jack Nusbaum for their invaluable contributions to film, performing arts, and cultural philanthropy. Gala chairs are William I. Campbell and Christine Wächter-Campbell, Thérèse Esperdy and Robert Neborak, Judith R. and Alan H. Fishman (BAM Chairman Emeritus), and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. With a deep commitment to supporting excellence in the arts across disciplines, rag & bone is the Evening Partner of BAM Gala 2018.

The festivities kick-off with a stunning Manhattan skyline arrival and continue with a contemporary art auction-led by honorary artist chair Diana Al-Hadid-featuring works by artists such as Cindy Sherman and Kiki Smith as guests enter cocktail hour. Directed by performance and design artist Andrew Ondrejcak the Pop art-inspired evening unfolds in bursts of neon with confetti brio as guests dine on artful cuisine by Great Performances and wine generously provided by the Crimson Wine Group. A trio of performances punctuate the soiree, featuring curated pairings of emerging and well-known artists.

Coinciding with the final few hours of bidding in the BAM Art Auction, an after party nearby at Pioneer Works features an intimate performance by Yeasayer. The after party is hosted by BAM’s Young Producers Leadership Committee, co-chaired by Natasha Chefer and Marcel Przymusinski.

Benefit committee members include Roger Alcaly and Helen Bodian, Jonathan and Jessika Auerbach, Bank of America, Tony Bechara, Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, Suzy and Anthony Davis, Mark Diker and Deborah Colson, Jeanne Donovan Fisher, Forest City Ratner Companies, Fox Searchlight Pictures, The Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation, Penn and Diane Holsenbeck, Robin and Edgar Lampert, National Grid, Paramount Pictures, Rona and David Picket, Jonathan F. P. and Diana Calthorpe Rose, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, Anna Kuzmik Sampas and George Sampas, Alfred and Stephanie Shuman, Brian Stafford and Celine Dufetel, Axel and Galia Stawski, Joseph A. Stern, Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis, and Adam Wolfensohn and Jennifer Small.

BAM President Katy Clark, BAM Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo, and Diane and Adam Max, BAM Board Chairman, are the evening’s hosts.

Each Gala honoree distinctly embodies BAM’s adventurous spirit and commitment to the arts, and each has contributed to BAM’s legacy of supporting outstanding achievements in the performing arts, cinema, and culture. A native son of Brooklyn, Aronofsky served as BAM Cinema Club Co-Chair from 2008-2009. Fellow honoree Jeremy Irons has long been a BAM supporter and patron, and served as the Friends of BAM Co-Chair in 2012. Nora Ann Wallace is an invaluable leader serving on both the BAM & BAM Endowment Trust Boards. She co-chairs the BAM Governance Committee and chairs the BET Audit Committee. She currently serves on numerous committees including the BAM Executive and Nominating committees. In 2017, she was presented with a BAMmie Award marking her 20 years of service. Her husband Jack Nusbaum continues to be an ardent BAM supporter.

For Gala tables or tickets, please contact BAM Patron Services at patronservices@BAM.org or 718.636.4182

London Opening Night and Afterparty – Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Tuesday 6 February 2018 was the Opening Night and Press Night for the London run of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, starring Jeremy Irons, Lesley Manville, Matthew Beard, Rory Keenan and Jessica Regan, directed by Richard Eyre.

There was a party at Brown’s in Covent Garden, after the performance.

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REVIEW – It’s the full ★★★★★ for Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in Long Day’s Journey Into Night – What’sOnStage

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey Into Night review – Irons and Manville leave you emotionally pulverised – The Guardian

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey into Night at Wyndham’s Theatre – London Theatre

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Wyndham’s Theatre review – Lesley Manville hits ecstatic, fatal highs – The Arts Desk

REVIEW – BWW Review: LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, Wyndham’s Theatre – BroadwayWorld UK

REVIEW – Jeremy Irons almost triumphs in this skewering of the American Dream – Long Day’s Journey into Night, Wyndham’s Theatre – The Telegraph

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey Into Night review at Wyndham’s Theatre – ‘an immense performance from Lesley Manville’ – The Stage

REVIEW – Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville star in Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece – Time Out

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey Into Night review: ‘Saddest play ever written’ still absorbs – The Evening Standard

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Wyndham’s Theatre, London – The Reviews Hub

REVIEW – Lesley Manville fills the theatre with an anger and a fragility so tangible that it’s almost too much to bear – The Times

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey into Night: Lesley Manville is mesmerising in this unflinching examination of family misery ★★★★   – Radio Times

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey into Night, Wyndham’s Theatre, London, review: Shatteringly good – The Independent

REVIEW – Long Day’s Journey Into Night, review: Jeremy Irons is commanding in this glistening adaptation of a classic – Metro UK

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