Jeremy Irons Says Recent White House Visit Was "Peaceful and Calm" Amid Election

Jeremy Irons -10-28-2016 Man who knew infinity Screening -Publicity- H 2016
Courtesy of LaDexon Photographie/Jay Snap

Days ahead of the most contentious presidential election in memory, the vibe at the White House was surprisingly relaxed. So says Jeremy Irons, who screened his film The Man Who Knew Infinity at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Oct. 28.

"Strangely enough, it was peaceful and calm, which was rather reassuring as one left that manic debating we had to watch the last month," the actor tells The Hollywood Reporter. Though Barack and Michelle Obama were not on hand, having "other things on their mind right now," Irons quips, there were plenty of heavy hitters in attendance, including NBC News chairman Andy Lack and U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil to discuss how math can be taught in American schools in a more exciting way.

Man Who Knew Infinity, a Good Will Hunting-esque drama which chronicles the relationship between an Indian math brainiac with no formal training (Dev Patel) and his mentor (Irons), is generating awards-season buzz for the latter. In fact, the role required a great deal of acting, given that Irons is math-challenged by his own admission and doesn't quite understand our Electoral College.

"However it works, I hope that it works in the favor of Hillary Clinton, and we don't have any need for recount," he says. But the Oscar-winning Reversal of Fortune actor sees the parallels between the U.S. presidential election and the Brexit referendum in his native U.K., both representing a protest vote against the status quo. "I fear that too much of [our] politicians' time is going to be taken up with sorting out the Brexit rather than things that are really rather more important to the population, and I worry that whoever gets in in your country, too much time is going to be taken up by arguing Democrats or Republicans or both," he says.

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.