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On Thursday morning, I had the privilege of speaking for about 30 minutes with the great London-based stage and screen actor Jeremy Irons, just minutes after his name was announced as a best actor (in a TV drama) Golden Globe nominee for his work on the critically-acclaimed Showtime series The Borgias.
Irons, 63, has already won just about every acting award that exists: an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, an Emmy, a Tony, an Annie, and prizes from all of the major critics groups, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Circle, and National Society of Film Critics. He mentions during our chat that he recently loaned his inimitable voice to a recorded reading of T.S. Eliot‘s The Waste Land, which could, hypothetically, earn him a Grammy, as well, which would make him just the 11th member of the elite EGOT club!
But, as Irons notes during our conversation, it is neither a desire for awards, nor a fondness for fame, nor even a particular passion for acting (he’s appeared in only 40 movies since his big screen debut 30 years ago) that keeps him in the game at this point in his life. Instead, it is a deep connection that he feels to certain characters that he reads, as well as a need for the creative companionship of other actors, that periodically draws him away from his various homes and hobbies and back into the fray.
The most memorable of his film roles include a lovestruck victorian in Karel Reisz‘s The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981); a Jesuit missionary in Roland Joffe‘s The Mission (1986); a pair of twisted twins in David Cronenberg‘s Dead Ringers (1988); a murder suspect in Steven Soderbergh‘s Kafka (1991); a shady spouse in Barbet Schroeder‘s Reversal of Fortune (1991); a Machiavellian lion in Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff‘s The Lion King (1994); a child predator in Adrian Lyne‘s Lolita (1997); a cheating/cheated-upon husband in Istvan Szabo‘s Being Julia (2004); and a debtor in Michael Radford‘s The Merchant of Venice (2004).
And now comes another: the slithery corporate titan John Tuld — which sounds to me a lot like Dick Fuld, the disgraced former chair of Lehman Brothers — in first-time filmmaker J.C. Chandor‘s timely Wall Street drama Margin Call. The star-studded indie that debuted at Sundance in Jan. was released on Oct. 21 and has been very warmly received by critics and VOD consumers. Irons only enters the film in its third act, but he absolutely dominates it during every subsequent moment in which he appears onscreen. Consequently, he is receiving his loudest awards buzz in years and could — despite being passed over by the BFCA, SAG, and HFPA last week (probably because he’s part of such a large and impressive ensemble from which it is hard to single out only one or two individuals) — earn his first invitation to the Academy Awards since he won the best actor Oscar 21 years ago.
Irons and I discussed all of the above — and more — during our time together, and I hope that you’ll tune in to our conversation at the top of this post.
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