Jeremy Irons – Daily Mail Interview 28 May 2016

Jeremy Irons says he’d never accept a knighthood because he already has more money and fame than he deserves

He has won every award going, including an Oscar for Best Actor. But there’s one gong that Jeremy Irons doesn’t want – a knighthood.

In an interview with Event magazine today, the star insists he would never accept the top honour. ‘I don’t see the point of it,’ he says. ‘There are so many people who do amazing work which is unheralded and unrecognised. I do what I do because I like doing it. I’m well paid for it. I get far too much adulation compared with what it’s worth.’

The immaculately spoken Irons, 67, rose to fame playing Charles Ryder in the popular ITV period drama Brideshead Revisited, but he pulls no punches with his views on the aristocracy.

He says: ‘I just didn’t fit in. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the manners – there’s a sort of unspoken code among people in that world, which I want to kick at, I want to hit.’ He is also scathing about his last box office hit, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, in which he played the butler Alfred. Irons calls the film ‘very muddled’.

His new film Race sees him return to a more serious subject. Race tells the story of black US athlete Jesse Owens, who triumphed at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.

The Oscar-winning actor shares his frank views on everything from his latest hit film Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (‘It was very muddled’) to Brexit (‘My instinct has always been anti-European’) and knighthoods (‘I don’t see the point of it’) 

‘Really, ambition has gone. I look for things that tickle my fancy. You begin to see the end of life on the horizon. You think, “It’s not going on for ever, this. Let’s make the most of what time I have left”,’ said Jeremy Irons

‘Really, ambition has gone. I look for things that tickle my fancy. You begin to see the end of life on the horizon. You think, “It’s not going on for ever, this. Let’s make the most of what time I have left”,’ said Jeremy Irons

‘I don’t like rules,’ says Jeremy Irons with a lazy growl like Scar, the creature he voiced in The Lion King.

The Oscar-winning actor takes a long drag on a hand-rolled cigarette, stares into the middle distance and says he cares less about what people think of him with every passing year.

‘I don’t mind getting older. I’m enjoying not having that raging ambition I’ve had all my life,’ says the 67-year-old, who admits that in the past he trod ‘the very thin line between being a perfectionist and a…’

The word he uses is not suitable for print, but then Irons has a reputation for speaking his mind in spectacular fashion.

He had to apologise for using the f-word on Radio 2 earlier this year and was widely attacked a few years ago for suggesting same-sex marriage could lead to men marrying their sons.

‘I will forever be playing Devil’s Advocate,’ he says, and he’ll do that again today, being surprisingly rude about his latest hit film and sharing his frank views on everything from Brexit (‘My instinct has always been anti-European’) to knighthoods (‘I don’t see the point of it’).

Irons as Avery Brundage in the Jesse Owens biopic Race. ‘He’s a man who knows how to play dirty. He cares about sport over everything else,' he said

Irons as Avery Brundage in the Jesse Owens biopic Race. ‘He’s a man who knows how to play dirty. He cares about sport over everything else,’ he said

Irons is a Hollywood superstar and still a heart-throb with his wolfish, aristocratic looks, but he is also a great serious actor, one of the few to win the triple crown of a Tony for theatre (The Real Thing in 1984), an Oscar on film (Reversal Of Fortune in 1990) and an Emmy for television (Elizabeth I in 2006).

‘I feel sort of slightly retired,’ he says as we sit outside The Orangery café at Kensington Palace, west London.

But he’s got a funny way of showing it. Irons has produced an extraordinary amount of work this year for someone who says his career is over.

He’s about to play yet another of his brittle mavericks, the real-life construction tycoon Avery Brundage, who does a deal with the Nazi high command in Race, a film about Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

‘He’s a man who knows how to play dirty. He cares about sport over everything else.’

This follows hard on the heels of his highly acclaimed performance as an Oxford professor in The Man Who Knew Infinity, a movie about a maths genius. And Irons has just finished performing Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Bristol Old Vic, where he trained as a classical actor.

‘It did make me reflect on getting older, but I have those reflections every day. I’m just a bit stiffer.’

We’re only a ten-minute stroll from his London home but Irons has come dressed for the country in posh wellies, black jeans, a heavy, rusty-red fleece and a wax jacket, with the wide brim of a floppy farmer’s hat pulled down over his eyes.

Irons’ wife Sinead Cusack and their youngest son, Max. 'When I met Sinead I thought, there’s a Celt, there’s a wild one. A bit of that in my blood is what we need,' he said

Irons’ wife Sinead Cusack and their youngest son, Max. ‘When I met Sinead I thought, there’s a Celt, there’s a wild one. A bit of that in my blood is what we need,’ he said

It’s a kind of disguise but the elegant prowl, the exquisite manners – with a touch of the arm to ask if I want coffee – and the voice like a lord idly trying to seduce a chambermaid, these are all unmistakably his.

‘Really, ambition has gone,’ he insists. ‘I look for things that tickle my fancy. You begin to see the end of life on the horizon. You think, “It’s not going on for ever, this. Let’s make the most of what time I have left.”’

That gives him the freedom to be entertainingly frank, starting with his most recent film, Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, in which he played the loyal British butler Alfred. It was popular at the box office but got an absolute kicking from the critics.

‘Deservedly so. I mean it took £800 million, so the kicking didn’t matter but it was sort of overstuffed…’

He lets those words hang in the air, then laughs at the thought of a film described by one critic as the most incoherent blockbuster in years.

‘It was very muddled. I think the next one will be simpler. The script is certainly a lot smaller, it’s more linear.’

There’s no getting out of it now.

‘I’m tied into The Batman at the minute [the next instalment, Justice League Part One, is due next year], which is nice because it’s a bit of income…’

He knows exactly why I’m smiling at this, given that his worth has been estimated at £10 million.

‘Not that I need a bit of income but it’s nice to keep ticking over.’

Irons with Anthony Andrews in Brideshead Revisited, 1981. ‘I just didn’t fit in. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the manners – there’s a sort of unspoken code among people in that world, which I want to kick at,' he said

Irons with Anthony Andrews in Brideshead Revisited, 1981. ‘I just didn’t fit in. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the manners – there’s a sort of unspoken code among people in that world, which I want to kick at,’ he said

His Alfred was the highlight of the movie: not the passive butler of the past but a bodyguard and ally in battle. This turns out to be based on a real-life encounter with an oil billionaire and the men who made up his domestic staff.

‘I had dinner a few times with Paul Getty, who was a neighbour of mine in Oxfordshire.

‘You’d arrive for dinner and there’d be a very nice man to open the gate, a very nice man to park your car, another very nice man to take your coat and another very nice man to give you some champagne. They were all ex-SAS. So the whole place was surrounded by this level of threat, and I thought, “Yeah, that’s Alfred.”

‘If I was Mr and Mrs Wayne and I had a young son I thought could be kidnapped, killed or whatever because of his wealth, I’d make sure his guardian – his tutor, his mate – was somebody pretty capable.’

That’s a typical Irons story, illustrating the company he keeps in high society.

‘Yeah, but I’m not part of that.’

Even when he has dinner with Paul Getty?

‘No! I have dinner with Paul Allen.’

He’s referring to the co-founder of Microsoft, the somewhat reclusive inventor, philanthropist and investor with a wealth approaching $18 billion. That’s not a very persuasive argument for ordinariness.

Avery Brundage stood up for Jesse Owens (played by Stephan James), the black athlete, but may have collaborated with the Nazis on their plans for an imposing embassy in Washington

Avery Brundage stood up for Jesse Owens (played by Stephan James), the black athlete, but may have collaborated with the Nazis on their plans for an imposing embassy in Washington

‘The wonderful thing about being a known quantity is that you get to meet the best people in the world. You may not hang out for long with them but you get to have lunch or dinner or whatever.

‘The first time I did a play on Broadway, in would walk Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Diana Ross, we’d sit and chat and have a cup of tea, and I thought, ‘I’m so ****ing lucky.’

‘The terrible thing is, I could never write a book because I can’t remember what we said.’

Irons likes to see himself as an outsider, ‘a rogue and a vagabond’ who would never accept a knighthood (and actors have won them for less).

‘I don’t see the point of it. There are so many people who do amazing work which is unheralded and unrecognised.

‘I do what I do because I like doing it. I’m well paid for it. I get far too much adulation compared with what it’s worth.

‘Society needs storytellers, but I’ve always thought artists should stir the s***.’

How does he square that with hanging out at Buckingham Palace for a reception for British Oscar winners?

‘The Queen wasn’t there, it was Charlie. I’m not part of that.’

‘That’ means the aristocracy, despite having come to fame as Charles Ryder, who becomes the intimate friend of Lord Sebastian Flyte (played by Anthony Andrews, carrying a teddy bear at all times) in the acclaimed ITV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited.

Irons is the son of an accountant from the Isle of Wight but Brideshead made it very cool to be posh in the early Eighties and he was invited to join those who really were.

Irons as Alfred in Batman v Superman, 2016 which attracted negative reviews but took £800 million. 'The kicking didn’t matter but it was sort of overstuffed… It was very muddled,' he said

Irons as Alfred in Batman v Superman, 2016 which attracted negative reviews but took £800 million. ‘The kicking didn’t matter but it was sort of overstuffed… It was very muddled,’ he said

‘I just didn’t fit in. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the manners – there’s a sort of unspoken code among people in that world, which I want to kick at, I want to hit.’

He almost snarls when he says that and searches for the word to describe their sense of privilege.

‘Unthinking. It’s a terrible generalisation but I just didn’t feel comfortable.’

By then he had already married a second wife, the Irish actress Sinead Cusack in 1978.

‘I am too much of a Scot and an Anglo-Saxon. I need some Celt there.

‘When I met Sinead I thought, there’s a Celt, there’s a wild one. A bit of that in my blood is what we need.’

They split up briefly, early in the marriage, but have been together since, despite rumours on both sides.

Irons was photographed kissing the French actress Patricia Kaas on a Soho street in 2002, after which he said: ‘I’m a very tactile person but it gets me into trouble.’

Gossip writers have also linked him at various times with glamorous younger women, including the heiress Francesca Bortolotto Possati, the Iranian author Maryam Sachs and Emina Ganic, executive director of the Sarajevo Film Festival. So how has he kept his marriage going?

‘Oh! One day at a time, you do it,’ he says, chuckling as he lights up again.

His first big movie role was in The French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981, but his fame reached new heights when he was the voice of Scar in The Lion King and played the villain in Die Hard With A Vengeance in the mid-Nineties.

His first big movie role was in The French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981 (opposite Meryl Streep)

His first big movie role was in The French Lieutenant’s Woman in 1981 (opposite Meryl Streep)

His character in Race is another outsider: Avery Brundage, the real-life property speculator who represented the American Olympic Committee at the 1936 Games in Germany.

Brundage stood up for Owens, the black athlete, but may have collaborated with the Nazis on their plans for an imposing embassy in Washington. He certainly cut a deal to leave two Jewish runners out of the final relay race, so as not to offend Hitler.

‘David Puttnam, a neighbour of mine in Ireland, knew Brundage later in life and said: “He was an absolute out-and-out s***.” I said: ‘“Well OK, that’s how you read him.”

‘I’ve never believed in good and bad, black and white, God and the Devil. We make constant choices and try to get it as right as we can, and sometimes we fall over the line.’

Race pulls no punches, comparing racism in America in the Thirties to the Nazi way of thinking.

‘I said to Stephen [Hopkins, the director]: “We must make this with the attitude of the time, because history sweetens everything.”

‘People were talking about racial superiority in every country of the world then, certainly in America.’

The action takes place before the gas chambers.

‘They didn’t know all that was happening in Germany, just as we only know partly what is happening now in Syria and places where people are being murdered.’

Would Jeremy Irons have stood up to the Nazis?

‘It’s impossible to tell. One is surprised by how people work under pressure.’

He was one of Labour’s biggest donors in the days of Tony Blair but is disenchanted with politicians on all sides now, with the EU referendum looming.

‘Elections are like a game show. It’s miserable, crazy.

‘I mean, I agree that the Brexiteers are a slightly suspicious lot – but then anybody who has an instinct to play against the game is very easily suspected. What are their motives?’

Irons with Glenn Close in Reversal Of Fortune, 1990 for which he won an Oscar. 'I don’t have prejudices because I spend my life playing people of completely different ways of thought,' he said

Irons with Glenn Close in Reversal Of Fortune, 1990 for which he won an Oscar.

 ‘I don’t have prejudices because I spend my life playing people of completely different ways of thought,’ he said

Does he have any sympathy with their views?

‘I do, because I don’t like rules. I think we have too many from Brussels. I think it’s very difficult for small businesses, all the red tape which we follow because we’re English. The French I don’t think do.

‘I don’t like the idea of the European Parliament eating up the sort of money it does, just to keep going.

‘And of things being decided quite outside our voting realm. So my instinct has always been non-European.’

However, there is a caveat.

‘The world is in a fairly volatile position. I don’t think it’s the time to break up unions. I think it’s the time to hold them together and try to make them better.’

He’s more European than most of us, living in both England and Ireland.

‘I think it’s the Scotsman in me – or as an actor, because I’ve never known where the next job is coming from – but I’ve always been very cautious and I like to see the money working.

‘So I’ve renovated a few houses and fallen in love with them and kept them.’

He rebuilt Kilcoe Castle in west Cork from a ruin and painted it peach. Didn’t the locals call it an eyesore?

‘That was a storm in a teacup. You only have to go down there and see all the other colours to see that actually mine’s quite natural. It’s often a grey sky there, so you paint your house a bright colour.’

He may be about to let the castle go, though.

‘I wouldn’t be too sad to sell, because as you get older you think, “I don’t need all this stuff.’’’

A far more serious controversy came in 2013 when he said he was worried about the implications of same-sex marriage becoming legal: ‘If I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties I could marry my son.’

Scar, who he voiced for The Lion King, 1994

Scar, who he voiced for The Lion King, 1994

There was outrage at that. He wasn’t misquoted, so did he really mean to say it?

‘Absolutely not. I was just wondering how things would change. You change one thing and there’s a knock-on effect.’

His son Max, who is also an actor, said: ‘I remember thinking, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re thinking through a problem out loud.’’’

That is indeed what Irons says he was doing.

‘I will forever be playing Devil’s Advocate, just because I like a good discussion, and from that I begin to work out what I actually feel.

‘I don’t have prejudices because I spend my life playing people of completely different ways of thought, but I love trying to find out, ‘What do you think? What do I think?’’

For the benefit of the doubt, where does he really stand on same-sex marriage?

‘I think anything that makes people happy should be encouraged.’

He and Sinead have raised two sons: Sam is a photographer.

‘My kids are hard-working and pretty balanced, they haven’t been brought up in a very wealthy environment, it was normal.

‘Privileged, yes, but not flamboyantly wealthy. So I know their values are absolutely right, and if they need a roof over their head and or other help then yes, I’ll do that.’

He’s relaxed about that, as it seems he is about everything. Irons takes out liquorice papers and tobacco and rolls another cigarette, very expertly.

‘I had a very fine doctor for a film check-up, who said: “You’re pretty fit. You’re a smoker. Don’t try and give it up.

‘You live a very pressured life, whatever you’re doing is working. Try and keep it down to 12 a day, if you can.” For me it’s a sort of meditation, it calms me.’

Presumably there are lots of people telling him he should stop?

‘Always have been.’

But he’s not going to stop. He doesn’t like rules. Tell him not to do or say something and he’ll want to do or say it straight away.

Jeremy Irons takes another long drag, grins and says: ‘Well, quite!’

‘Race’ is released on June 3

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-3611038/Batman-v-Superman-Dawn-Justice-star-Jeremy-Irons-new-life-semi-retired-actor.html#ixzz4AAYoSSfF
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Jeremy Irons Interview for CNN-IBN

While in Dubai for the Chivas Legends Dinner, Jeremy Irons was interviewed by CNN-IBN’s Sushant Mehta –

Click the link or photo below to watch the video:

Jeremy Irons talks about his journey as actor and a philanthropist Sushant Mehta, CNN-IBN | Dec 15, 2013

cnn ibn

Jeremy Irons to Appear at the Literary and Debating Society of NUI Galway

Jeremy Irons will participate in the Launch of the 167th Session of the Literary and Debating Society of NUI Galway.

When: 12 September 2013 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Where: The Kirwan Theatre – The Concourse – NUIG Galway

The Society is honoured to have Mr Jeremy Irons as the inaugural
speaker of the 167th session of the Society.

Mr Irons will be joined by British actor and television writer, Mr Rob Heyland and both men will address the Society on the responsibility of the privileged to help shape our societies.
The Auditor will chair the meeting and the address will be followed by a question and answer session leading into a period of Private Members’ Time.

Launch1-212x300

The following is from www.literaryanddebating.com :

With a background as a British television actor including The Professionals and One by One, Mr Rob Heyland turned his mind to observing and writing with involvement in such shows as Foyle’s War, Have Your Cake and Eat It and Ultimate Force. Regarded highly as a prolific social thinker, Mr Heyland’s insights and vision is something to look forward to.

With a career that has included The Lion King, The Man in the Iron Mask, Brideshead Revisited and The Borgias, Mr Jeremy Irons is hugely influential as a dignified and eloquent giant of screen. His
commitment to public discourse, his determination to stand publicly for person-focused society and his work with Evidence for Development make this event an exciting launch to a great session.

Come early as crowds are expected and places are limited.

Come along and let the games begin!

Jeremy Irons on Studio 360

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Jeremy Irons was recently a guest on Studio 360 with Kurt Anderson.

Click on the player below for the full audio:

jeremy_irons_borgias_2

“You can’t play a bad guy thinking, ‘I’m a bad guy,’” Jeremy Irons tells Kurt Andersen. “You’ve got to say, ‘Why does he make that choice to behave in that way?’” It’s all about playing the gray areas.

Irons knows from despicable; for 40 years, he’s been our best bad guy — the possibly murderous Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune; the deranged twins in Dead Ringers; the fratricidal Scar in The Lion King. Irons’ latest complicated character is Rodrigo Borgia, a pope with mistresses and illegitimate children, in Showtime’s The Borgias.

It’s a good thing Irons was bad at science. “I wanted to be a veterinarian,” he tells Kurt, “but I didn’t show any signs of a scientific mind.” The headmaster thought he would join the army; his mates thought he’d become an antiques dealer. Instead, at 64, Irons is as busy in film as ever. Kurt wonders whether Irons ever agonizes over the roles he takes. “No, I’m pretty sanguine about that. I sort of know what I want to do and it comes just through appetite. I mean you see a bacon sandwich on a full stomach you think, ‘I don’t want it.’ And then, you know a day later you look at it and think, ‘I’ll eat that.’”

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Bonus Audio – Jeremy’s 3 for 360

Click on the player below to listen:

irons_3_for_360

jeremy_irons_borgias_2

Jeremy Irons on CNN Starting Point

Jeremy Irons was interviewed on CNN Starting Point, with John Berman and Brooke Baldwin, on Thursday, April 4, 2013.

See the video HERE.

 

Jeremy Irons – The A.V. Club Interview

Read the original interview HERE.

Follow @TheAVClub on Twitter

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Like The A.V. Club page on facebook.

Jeremy Irons on Shakespeare, The Simpsons, and enjoyable inconsistencies

by Will Harris January 31, 2013

Jeremy Irons’ filmography encompasses everything from Disney to David Cronenberg, plus a 1990 Best Actor Oscar win for Reversal Of Fortune, but his first efforts as an actor were on the stage, and one of his initial entryways into the dramatic arts came via Shakespeare’s work. Which explains why he was tapped to host an episode of PBS’ new documentary series Shakespeare Uncovered; Irons’ instalment, airing February 1, will cover Henry IV and Henry V. In conjunction with the show, Irons spoke to The A.V. Club during the Television Critics Association winter press tour about how he came to participate in the program, which of the villains he’s played is the most Shakespearean, and how his training prepared him to play a bar rag on The Simpsons.

The A.V. Club: What was the initial pitch when you were approached about Shakespeare Uncovered?

Jeremy Irons: Well, it was that we were going to make a documentary about the plays, about the locations, where they were written, the historical occurrences around the period, and where Shakespeare diverges and where he follows history, and why. They said to me, “We’ll do it all in four days for you. Do you want to do it?” And I had the time, and I thought it was a very interesting idea. Because anything that opens up Shakespeare to an audience is good. You know, he has a lot of disadvantages. But he’s often taught badly, and people haven’t seen great productions, so they sort of think, “Mmm, I don’t think so. I think that’s a bit heavy.” So anything that can make people realize that he’s a fantastic playwright, a fantastic story-writer, and open it up for them in their minds… well, it must be a good thing.

AVC: Did you have carte blanche to select which plays you wanted to tackle for your episode, or did they say, “Hamlet’s off the tableDavid Tennant gets first pick because he used to host Masterpiecebut anything else is up for grabs”?

JI: [Laughs.] No, I was doing Henry IV at the time [for BBC2’s The Hollow Crown], so they thought it would be interesting if I did the one that included the two plays that I was doing.

AVC: What was your first introduction to Shakespeare?

JI: I think it was The Winter’s Tale… Well, no, no, no, it wasn’t. I’ll tell you what it was: It was reading ’round the class in my English lessons at school. And I think perhaps once a week in English, we would choose a bit of a Shakespeare play, and we’ll all take characters, and we’d sit at our desks and read them. But it wasn’t until I began to see productions at Stratford and… I can’t actually remember the first Shakespeare I saw, though I think it might have been the Hollow Crown series, with Alan Howard. Peter Brook’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, I remember seeing. That was pretty early on. And suddenly I realized how theatrical Shakespeare is, how alive, how wonderful it is when it’s opened up by a great director and a great company.

AVC: Was it Shakespeare that made you want to become an actor?

JI: He was one of many. No, I wanted to become an actor because I wanted to become a gypsy. [Laughs.] I wanted to live the gypsy life!

AVC: You mentioned The Winter’s Tale a moment ago. That was the first Shakespeare play you actually performed, correct? At the Old Vic?

JI: The Bristol Old Vic, yeah.

AVC: The Winter’s Tale is one of the lesser-adapted Shakespeare plays when it comes to film and television. Do you have any theories as to why that is?

JI: Hmm. No, I don’t. But I’d actually love to film it. It’d be very interesting to film, because it’s all about two sorts of people. It’s about the really buttoned-up and the very loose people, the people who are always touching, which is like I am. The so-called Bohemian people. [Laughs.] Especially now, in this world where we’re so politically correct, and you’re not allowed to hold the hand of a little girl under the age of 14, and you’re not allowed to do this, you’re not allowed to do that, you’re not allowed to smack your children… You have to be so correct. And you compare that with the ’60s and ’70s and that time, with hippies and free love. And to have those two societies rubbing up against each other, which you have in The Winter’s Tale, it’s interesting.

AVC: Watching your episode of Shakespeare Uncovered offers a reminder of just how many of Shakespeare’s lines have filtered into pop culture, such as Christopher Plummer delivering the “dogs of war” speech in Star Trek VI

JI: [Laughs.] Yep, yep, yep.

AVC: Do you have a favorite example of Shakespeare being adapted for current tastes in popular culture?

JI: Well, I mean, I saw Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus, which was a very interesting way to show the play. Ian McKellen’s Richard III. Again, an interesting film. I suppose you could argue The Lion King, in a way. [Laughs.] We always say that he has entered our language with so many of these colorful phrases that we use in life. I suspect that they were phrases that were being used at that time, which he used in his plays. I’m not sure he necessarily invented them all.

AVC: You mentioned The Lion King, but looking beyond Scar, who would you say is the most Shakespearean villain in your back catalog?

JI: I think Simon in Die Hard With A Vengeance, a man who enjoys creating mayhem and living his own rules. Quite Shakespearean.

AVC: Earlier today, you suggested that you might have a performance of King Lear lurking within you somewhere. Is that something you anticipate letting out anytime soon?

JI: Oh, I don’t know. How soon is soon? [Laughs.] In the next 10 years, let’s say. I’d like to do Iago [in Othello], who is a wonderful character. A smiling villain. I’ve also never done a Don John, in Much Ado [About Nothing], who is a really unhappy man. I’ve always tended to play people who relish playing against the rules.

AVC: Rodrigo Borgia on The Borgias seems to qualify for that category. 

JI: Oh yes. He is wonderfully bad, isn’t he? [Laughs.] He’s a man who… well, one of the great things about Shakespeare is that his characters are inconsistent, and that’s something I think makes him a writer above most writers, because inconsistency is what we as people are full of. We maybe don’t see it in ourselves too often, but we are inconsistent. We think one thing one day and something else another day. We act a certain way one day and another way a second day. And Shakespeare knew that. Now, that’s very hard to play on film. It’s very hard to get a writer who will write characters who are inconsistent. They see it as somehow a failure. But when playing the Pontiff, the great thing is, I’ve had time to develop those inconsistencies. The fact that he was no doubt a man of God—maybe his faith wavered sometimes, but he was a man of God, as most people were then—and yet he is able to authorize assassinations and live in a way which we would think, “Well, that’s not very godly.” But then you look at George W. Bush, and you think, “Well, he was also calling himself a man of God,” but he also sanctioned actions around the world—basically in Iran—where thousands of innocent civilians were killed because of his decisions. So we all contain a bit of that.

AVC: Many actors admit to taking certain TV and film projects solely to subsidize their theater work. Has that ever been the case for you?

JI: It’s sort of incidental, really. I mean, you manage a career, you have to pay bills, and… sometimes I have done work to subsidize my life. [Laughs.] And to subsidize other works, yes. Less so now. Now I’m lucky enough to be comfortable enough that I can just choose what I want to do. It sort of doesn’t matter too much what I’m paid for it, and I do what I enjoy doing now. But when I was starting, yes, very much, television would subsidize my theater work.

AVC: In what way did your Shakespearean training prepare you to play a bar rag on The Simpsons?

JI: It taught me the importance of the smallest character, the most insignificant character, who not only has a great history, but who is as involved and as caring and as emotional as the largest character, the most active character. So it taught me not to take the bar rag for granted and to realize that he was, in his soul, Hamlet. How’s that? [Laughs.]

Jeremy Irons to Attend ‘Trashed’ Preview Screening at 92Y for thoughtgallery.org

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Jeremy Irons – Trashed Preview Screening

Jeremy Irons - Trashed Preview Screening

Date/Time
12/11/2012 – 7:15 PM
From $38

Location
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave.
212-415-5500
Official site/reserve tickets

The Oscar-winning star of such films as Reversal of FortuneThe French Lieutenant’s WomanThe MissionLolitaDead Ringers and the TV series “The Borgias,” Jeremy Irons is also a producer, director, and activist. He will join Reel Pieces moderator Annette Insdorf for an onstage discussion after a selection of clips from his movies and a preview of Trashed, which premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and will be released Dec. 14 in New York.

Irons is the executive producer of this powerful documentary, a wake-up call about global waste. Irons investigates and reveals the extensive pollution of land, water and air around the globe-a threat to the food chain and to future generations. While Irons is outraged, the film also features images of paradoxical beauty as well as a score by the renowned composer Vangelis.

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Reel Pieces – Jeremy Irons, with a Preview of “Trashed” (Candida Brady, Director, 2012, 97 minutes)

The Oscar-winning star of such films as Reversal of Fortune, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Mission, Lolita, Dead Ringers and the TV series The Borgias,  Jeremy Irons is also a producer, director and activist.

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