a long-limbed elegance and the voice of a serpent crossed with an
angel, Jeremy Irons has long been described as 'swoon fodder' for
the thinking woman. Tall, brooding, and impossibly well-spoken, Irons
has often been cast as a haunted aristocrat, but has on occasion used
his well-heeled attributes to more sinister effect, most notably in
Cronenberg's 'Dead Ringers'...anyway...
was born on September 19, 1948, on the Isle of Wight, Irons and was
educated at Sherborne. While a student there he formed a band with four
of his friends called ‘The Four Pillars of Wisdom’. Irons
played drums, badly, by his own estimation and the band attained a limited
fame playing at various parties. After failed attempts to enter veterinary
school, Irons decided to become an actor and received classical training
at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His training there led to a two-year
stint with the Bristol Old Vic Theatre Company, where Irons performed
in a large number of plays. On the side, he supported himself by doing
odd jobs, including busking (singing on the streets), and it was thanks
to his musical inclinations that he got his big break in the 1972 London
production of Godspell. Singing for his supper alongside David Bowie,
Irons won acclaim for his portrayal of John the Baptist and was soon
a respected figure on the London theater scene.
made his screen debut in the 1980 film 'Nijinsky', but didn't find true
fame until the following year, when he starred in the 11-part television
adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. As part of a glittering
cast that included Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, and Claire
Bloom, Irons won rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic for his
portrayal of the lovelorn, conflicted Charles Ryder. Following this
success, the actor was soon in demand as a romantic lead and later that
year could be seen starring opposite Meryl Streep in 'The French Lieutenant's
Woman'. After trying his hand at playing a Polish laborer in Moonlighting
(1982) and an adulterous lover in Betrayal (1983), Irons returned to
the role of the tortured aristocrat with Swann in Love (1984).
work in a few minor films and a Tony Award for his 1984 Broadway debut
in Tom Stoppard's ‘The Real Thing’, Irons once again struck
gold with his role as a conscientious missionary in The Mission (1986)
in which he starred opposite Robert DeNiro and received a 1987 Golden
Globe nomination for his work. He next went completely against type,
playing insane twin gynecologists in David Cronenberg's 1988 thriller
Dead Ringers, a role that both shocked his longtime fans and won him
some new ones. For his portrayal, he garnered a New York Film Critics
Circle Award, acclaim that was to be heightened two years later with
his Oscar-winning turn as millionaire murder suspect Claus Von Bulow
in Reversal of Fortune. Irons also won a Golden Globe and settled into
a real-life role as one of the most respected actors on both sides of
the 1990s, Irons' career was one of great variety and sometimes varying
quality. Less acclaimed work included ‘Waterland’ (1992)
in which he starred with his wife Sinead Cusack. I have to say I thought
this film was excellent – if difficult to watch and a little tortured.
Then came the star-studded 1993 adaptation of The House of the Spirits;
and 'The Man in the Iron Mask', a big-budget 1998 historical action
piece in which Irons appeared to be competing with Gabriel Byrne, John
Malkovich, and Gérard Depardieu to see who could wear the worst
Irons' had a number of highly acclaimed films during this period as
well. One worth highlighting is Louis Malle's psychological drama Damage
(1992) in which Irons plays a cabinet minister consumed with a passion
for Juliette Binoche (and when it really comes down to it who can blame
him). Well in this situation his son can, because Binoche is his fiance.
It gets uglier from then on in and Irons plays the role so well and
poignantly, hell you would have thought he’d been in the situation.
was Disney's animated The Lion King (1994), to which Irons lent his
voice as the villainous Scar; the following year's 'Die Hard With a
Vengeance', where he once again explored his sinister side, as a terrorist.
It seems that Irons tries nearly every role as next he was in Stealing
Beauty (1996) where he was cast as a dying artist.