Jeremy Irons
(1948- )

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With 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...

Jeremy 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.

Irons 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).

Following 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 Atlantic.

Throughout 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 wig.

But 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.

Next 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.









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