The Love Song of Jeremy Irons – New York Times

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TSEliotNYTimesBookReview

Audiobook Review:

Jeremy Irons Breathes New Life Into ‘The Poems of T.S. Eliot’

by Lyndall Gordon

THE POEMS OF T.S. ELIOT
By T.S. Eliot
Read by Jeremy Irons
3 Hours, 41 Minutes. Faber & Faber.

There is no definitive voice for reading T. S. Eliot. His own manner, with its proper enunciations, can’t be placed. He was always from somewhere else. In his native St. Louis, his family looked to ancestral New England; at Harvard, he came from a “border state.” As a newcomer to London, teaching schoolboys in Highgate, he was “the American master.” He discarded his American accent without ever coming to sound unquestionably English. I wish it were possible to consult Professor Higgins: Can there be a neutral delivery, devoid of geographical cadence? The recordings of Eliot’s poems try for transparency; lasting content takes precedence over any one reader at a single point in time.

Eliot is the master of the unsaid. Irons’s sensitivity to Prufrock’s hesitation on the brink of utterance allows the poetry to bring out a prophetic impulse without sounding entirely absurd: “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?”

Like other great readers of Eliot (among them John Gielgud and Alec Guinness), Irons combines the velvet with emotionally alert variations in pace. With the line “It is impossible to say just what I mean!,” he speeds up the frustration seething beneath Prufrock’s genteel front, complete with formal necktie. Irons makes a bold decision to let loose the speaker’s longing, to the point of a sigh, and he is wonderfully suggestive in the variations on “Shantih shantih shantih” echoing on at the end of “The Waste Land.” I used to wonder if “the peace which passeth understanding,” Eliot’s note to this word, was building or fading. The poet’s own deadpan reading did not provide an answer, but Irons comes down on uncertainty with three different intonations. His final, stretched-out “Shantih” injects a strange intimacy following a thunderous “DA,” announcing rain — water as a sign of the spiritual fertility that Eliot longed for all his life.

Irons voices an Eliot who craves, desires and suffers more openly than in the sober accents of Gielgud and Guinness. Their recordings, completed during the poet’s lifetime, perhaps felt the impress of Eliot’s neutrality. Yet for them, and for Irons too, the poet appears one of us, which is to say that in all these recordings Eliot becomes more English than I think he really was. Irons glides smoothly over a barrage of judgments in “Marina,” “Death” being embodied in “Those who sit in the sty of contentment” and in “Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals.” Here is an annihilation of the flesh worthy of his Puritan forebear Andrew Eliott of Salem, a juror in the witchcraft trials.

Instead, Irons lends himself to what coexists with the voice of judgment: what is hesitant, what feels unattainable and the struggles of a flawed being in “Four Quartets.” A high point is when Eileen Atkins joins Irons in the best “Waste Land” reading ever in terms of interpretation and play of voices. Listen especially to the repartee of a man and a woman caged together in a hellish union. Their emotional duo and the naturalness that Irons brings to Eliot make this set of CDs a special gift.

 

Lyndall Gordon is the author of “The Imperfect Life of T.S. Eliot,” and, most recently, “Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World.”

Home Is Anywhere Jeremy Irons Drapes His Scarf – New York Times

Home Is Anywhere Jeremy Irons Drapes His Scarf

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Jeremy Irons at his suite in the Lowell Hotel in New York. The actor is on tour to promote his latest movie, “The Man Who Knew Infinity.” Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

Jeremy Irons owns a pied-à-terre in London, a house in Oxfordshire and a 15th-century castle in Cork, Ireland, painted a color that complaining neighbors have called pink.

“They got their knickers in a twist about it, but it’s not pink,” Mr. Irons said during a recent stay in New York. “It’s the color of fresh seaweed, and it blends with the sea that surrounds it.”

To judge by his woebegone look, Mr. Irons hasn’t spent much time on that property in the last year. A hectic schedule of movie work and promotion has taken him all over the world, and he was to decamp the next morning for Washington, to preside over a screening at the White House of his latest film, “The Man Who Knew Infinity.”

Considering all the travel on behalf of the movie, in which he plays the Cambridge math professor G. H. Hardy, Mr. Irons ought to have felt uprooted. Not a chance, he said. The actor, 68, makes it his business, his passion, really, to trick out the hotel suite or rented house assigned to him with all the comforts of a caravan. Home, he will tell you, is wherever he happens to be.

“I used to travel with a lot of scarves, which I bought in Hong Kong, Chinese scarves,” he said. “They were wonderfully embroidered. And I’d just drape them over everything.”

His cyclone publicity tour, undertaken in part with Oscar gold in mind, has forced him to pack lightly. At the Lowell Hotel on the Upper East Side, where he talked over bourbon (Eagle Rare) and licorice-flavored cigarettes, he easily made do with the imitation heritage furnishings: damask-covered chairs, cushy divans and a cherry wood desk. Mr. Irons, who seemed to be roughing it in a weathered coat and Spanish boots, looked stately enough, if a little out of place.

So did the guitar propped at the foot of a chair. And Smudge, Mr. Irons’s affable Jack Russell/bichon frisé, who goes wherever Mr. Irons goes. No coy mistress, Smudge sprang from her bed when called into the room to pose for a photograph.

“Sorry, Smudge, sorry for this indignity,” Mr. Irons said. “Chin up; that’s good. Try and look at the gallery. Keep your head up — like that!”

A director manqué, and something of an aesthete, he traded antiques as a youth to put himself through drama school. He still has a mystical attachment to inanimate objects, among them an aged barrel chair he once picked up in Bristol — a commode, in fact, that he covered with a fancy cushion. There is also a prize BMW motorcycle he rides at home, even to rehearsals.

“I talk to it,” he said. “I have to apologize to it when I’ve been away or riding someone else’s bike.”

His spiritual proclivities date from his boyhood on the Isle of Wight, where his father was an accountant. Mr. Irons, a Catholic, believed — still does, in fact — in the power of good works. He once helped run a parish in South London, visiting sick and elderly parishioners, playing the church organ and running the youth club.

There were heady distractions. On evenings off, Mr. Irons cycled to the West End, guitar strapped to his back. “Every now and again, some little bird perched near the street would start talking to you,” he said. His troubadour look was, he discovered, “a wonderful way to attract girls.” Up until then, he recalled, “Girls lived in a dream world in my head.”

At his all-male public school, Mr. Irons played in a rock group called the Four Pillars of Wisdom. The bass player had some success with the female fans, Mr. Irons recalled, gazing fixedly at the carpet. “I, on the other hand, hadn’t even talked to a girl,” he said. “I had no skills at all in that area.”

It’s hard to fathom, given that Mr. Irons has seemingly never let his near-40-year marriage to the Irish actress Sinead Cusack undercut his reputation as a rake, one who has been linked in the tabloids with more than a few leading ladies. But it was an apparently chastened Mr. Irons who told a reporter this year that straying is not good for one’s mental health.

Sure, he enjoys a few vices: “I don’t like rules, and break as many as I can,” he said. “To me, it’s an exciting way to run one’s life.”

As a boy, he once thought of joining the circus. “I wandered round one night to the back of the tents and discovered that most of the circus workers appeared to sleep in booths, sort of four berths to a booth,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m too middle class for this.’”

The theater seemed a luxury by contrast. “I loved the fact that we could get up at 10 o’clock and we went to bed at 2, so we were out of sync with everybody else,” he said. “I loved the smells, I loved the attitude, I loved the fact that some of my colleagues were quite insecure as people, which made them quite open.”

The bohemian life suits him. He clearly relates to the long-ago time when actors “didn’t have the vote and we could be imprisoned easily. We were disreputable,” he went on, seeming to relish the notion. “We were vagabonds and rogues.”

The rogue in him waxed skeptical about the state of American politics. “I watched all of the debates, and I was enormously depressed,” he said. After criticizing the president-elect, he intercepted a look from his longtime publicist, Sally Fisher, who sat vigilant on a sofa nearby. “She doesn’t want me to talk politics,” he said.

He may like talking issues, but not his inner workings. “I remember going for some therapy a long time ago,” he said. “The therapist, she’d keep asking these questions. I thought: ‘That’s none of your business. I don’t want you tell you that.’ And after about two seconds, she said, ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this.’”

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Jeremy Irons to Attend Energy for Tomorrow Conference

PROGRAM ADDITION – APRIL 24 EVENING
(THE EVE OF THE CONFERENCE)

There will be a screening of the documentary “Trashed” on the eve of the conference. Seats are limited and the screening will be open to the public. Confirmed conference participants will get priority. The screening will be followed by a conversation with the executive producer, Jeremy Irons.

The screening will be held on 7 pm, Wednesday, April 24 at Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street. No audio recording or photography will be allowed.

Public tickets can be purchased here: http://www.nytimes.com/marketing/screening/index.html

Confirmed speakers:
Jeremy Irons, actor and executive producer, “Trashed”
in conversation with David Carr, media and culture columnist, The New York Times

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On April 25th –

10:40 – 11 a.m.
COLUMNIST CONVERSATION
Jeremy Irons, actor and executive producer, “Trashed”
in conversation with Andrew Revkin, Op-Ed columnist and author, Dot Earth blog, The New York Times

*Please note, there is a screening of “Trashed” on the eve of the conference. Seats are limited and the screening will be open to the public. Confirmed conference participants will get priority.

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Official press release from The New York Times Company:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sec. Shaun Donovan and Jeremy Irons Join Lineup for New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference April 25

NEW YORK, March 11, 2013 – The New York Times today announced that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will deliver a keynote address at its second annual Energy for Tomorrow conference on Thursday, April 25, at TheTimesCenter.  Mayor Bloomberg will address the conference’s theme of building sustainable cities and the question of what we, as global citizens, want from our cities.

Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, will join New York Times Op-Ed columnist Thomas Friedman in conversation to discuss the Obama administration’s vision for city development as our urban populations grow worldwide.

Jeremy Irons, Academy Award-winning actor and activist, will also speak at the conference about solutions for better waste management and his documentary, “Trashed,” which looks at the challenges posed by waste to the environment and how we can enact change for a cleaner world. 

Confirmed conference attendees will be invited to a special screening of “Trashed” with free admission on the eve of the conference, Wednesday, April 24.  A talk with executive producer Jeremy Irons and New York Times media and culture columnist David Carr will follow the screening.

Additional New York Times speakers and moderators at Energy for Tomorrow will include Op-Ed columnists Mark Bittman, Bill Keller and Joe Nocera; DealBook founder and columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin; energy and environmental issues reporter John Broder; architecture critic Michael Kimmelman; Op-Ed writer for the Dot Earth blog Andrew Revkin; and international environment correspondent Elisabeth Rosenthal.

Energy for Tomorrow is by invitation only and will be available to the public via live stream, which is free to view, at www.NYTEnergyforTomorrow.com.

The conference will open at 8:00 a.m. with a New York Times newsroom panel breakfast session that explores the issues of climate change, now at the top of the political agenda.

The New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference series brings together thought leaders from across energy and environment industries to discuss the most urgent and important issues at hand and to explore different ways of fueling our evolving, global economy.

BlackBerry joins The New York Times as presenting sponsor of the 2013 Energy for Tomorrow conference.

To request an invitation to attend and to learn more about the conference, visit www.NYTEnergyforTomorrow.com.

About The New York Times Company

The New York Times Company (NYSE:NYT), a leading global, multimedia news and information company with 2012 revenues of $2.0 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, NYTimes.com, BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com and related properties. The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information.

Contact: Stephanie Yera, 212-556-1957, stephanie.yera@nytimes.com

This press release can be downloaded from www.nytco.com.

Jeremy Irons Photographed by Monika Hofler

Jeremy Irons was photographed for The New York Times Style Magazine, in Budapest, Hungary, by Monika Hofler.

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Q. and A.: Jeremy Irons and ‘Trashed’ from The New York Times

Q. and A.: Jeremy Irons and ‘Trashed’
By JOANNA M. FOSTER
Read the original post HERE.

Green: Living

A new documentary about the ultimate fate of just about everything we lug home from the mall opens on Friday in limited release in the United States. “Trashed,” directed by Candida Brady and starring Jeremy Irons, delves into the less festive side of consumerism and waste disposal — overflowing landfills in England, a toxic trash incinerator in Iceland, a hospital for children with birth defects in Vietnam.

We sat down recently with Mr. Irons to talk trash. Following are excerpts, edited for brevity and clarity.

Q. “Trashed” opens with a powerful image from Lebanon of a mountain of trash stacked high next to the ocean. Can you describe what it was like sitting on that trash mountain?

A. It was appalling. I’ve never been so grateful to leave the “set” of a film. It is certainly something to look at, but what people who see the film don’t experience is the smell of dead animals and wafting chemicals that make you gag. There are flies and fleas everywhere, stray dogs tripping over rubbish and yapping furiously at the scavenging birds circling overhead.

What really made my stomach turn was watching the steady stream of evil-looking runoff oozing from the bottom of the mountain of garbage straight into the sea. It looks and smells like poison, and there are still fishermen out there, although far fewer than there used to be.

What fish they do catch certainly aren’t eating what you or I would care to eat. It was all just horrific, but what’s happening there is what happens if you do nothing, and it’s an illustration of what we are all doing only they haven’t bothered to hide it.

Q. Has making “Trashed” led you to change any of your personal habits?

A.Yes. And I don’t consider myself an environmentalist or activist — I’m hardly an expert on green living. But what I’ve started doing since making the film is that I take packaging off at the point of purchase.

I consider myself quite capable of getting my tomatoes home safely without sitting on them, so why must they come packaged in plastic armor? And I think I can even get a pair of scissors home without chopping off my hand so I really don’t need that damned impenetrable plastic shell.

So I take it off and leave it on the counter and ask the person who sold it to me to deal with it themselves, because I didn’t want it in the first place. That way we push it back toward the manufacturers because the supermarkets will say: “Look, we can’t deal with all of this. Can you please provide less or take it back and reuse it?”

Q.How do you think waste compares with climate change as an issue? Shouldn’t trash be an even more obvious problem that no one can dispute?

A.It seems pretty obvious when you see a landfill or a the insides of a seabird bursting with plastic fragments. But so much of that is so removed from our everyday lives that it’s a bit like climate change and Bangladesh — out of sight, out of mind.

And just like there are those who dispute the scientific evidence behind climate change, there are those who argue there is no connection between environmental toxins and health. In the documentary we talk to villagers in France living near an incinerator who saw cancer rates spike in their community. They took the government to court over it and were told that there was no proof of any connection. Just like some of the effects of climate change, some of these health effects are still down the pipeline.

Finally, there’s also a lot of money in trash, as there is in the fossil fuel industry. In places like New York, it’s not just a lack of organization that results in so little being recycled, it’s also that there is a huge amount of money in trash disposal. The people who are getting rid of our waste at the moment have a fine industry and have no incentive to change that.

Q.What practical steps would you recommend to anyone who sees “Trashed” and wants to do something?

A.Find out in an intelligent way what happens to the waste that leaves your home, and decide whether this is something you approve of. You might be surprised to learn that, especially around New York, much of it is incinerated in areas with poor, disadvantaged communities. Are you O.K. with the poor getting your toxic ash?

If you’re not, become a little motivated and write to your Congressman to ask if they think this is acceptable.

I also would like to encourage people to actually buy something. If you don’t have a reusable shopping bag, please get one and get a second for a friend or family member. There are kinds that fold up as small as a Ping Pong ball and you can keep it in your purse or briefcase and never have to take a pointless plastic bag home again.

And although you might get a few dirty looks, see what happens if you start taking the packaging off at the point of purchase. Retailers are very sensitive to their customers — you have the power to let them know what you do and don’t like, and they will listen.

Q.What was the most surprising thing you learned while making the documentary?

A.I didn’t realize that all this nondegradable rubbish and consumerism is in large part thanks to World War II and the massive war production apparatus that needed to be developed for peaceful purposes after the days of making weapons had ended. I was born in 1948, so it’s really only in my lifetime that this throwaway society has emerged.

I do remember a time before plastic bags when there was just a lot less of everything. I’m still a bit shocked when I walk down Main Street and see all this stuff in the windows. Who buys it all? How could you ever find the time to wear or use it all?

Maybe I’m just getting old, and I know that buying things doesn’t make you happy. But I feel like there’s a new social mood, maybe because of the economic crisis, more of us are reflecting on what we really need and what we can do without.

Q.The Christmas shopping season is in full swing. What would you like to say to people as they head out to the mall or load up their Amazon shopping cart?

A.Don’t buy people something they don’t need, let alone don’t want. Send them a kind message. I know we’re all supposed to keep on buying to get the economy going, but most of us don’t need very much — and in my opinion there is nothing like a lovely pair of warm socks or a good bar of soap.

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/q-and-a-jeremy-irons-and-trashed/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Jeremy Irons in Madrid, Spain – September 2012

Original article and photos from the Mail Online

Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack were in Madrid, Spain the weekend after Jeremy’s birthday in 2012.  Jeremy was in town to participate in a TimesTalks Madrid interview on Friday 21 September. 

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Jeremy Irons – Times Talks Madrid

Jeremy Irons was interviewed on Friday 21 September 2012, by New York Times London-based reporter Matt Wolf. The interview lasted one hour and covered Jeremy’s most recent films The Words and Trashed, as well as The Borgias. The final 15 minutes of the hour was devoted to audience questions.

The interview was live streamed on timestalksmadrid.com (though with several technical glitches that shut off the feed). The interview can be see On Demand on timestalksmadrid.com

Gallery of 50 photos at Media Punch

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