A chat with Jeremy Irons

Every bit the modern day gentleman, the Oscar-winning actor talks to EDGAR about life, his career and making a difference.

EDGAR staff July 5, 2014

On choosing his work...

I’ve always been lucky enough to be able to pick projects that I want to work on. I have occasionally done some projects just for the money – and they are much harder to do the publicity for. These days I can basically stick to picking projects that I enjoy doing.

On relaxing...

Relaxation is important for me. A lot of what I do relies on communicating with people so before interviews, or events, or even on set what I try to do is expunge any nerves or fears and relax and try and enjoy myself. That is where you can truly be yourself.

On being outspoken...

I don’t think I’ll ever write an autobiography. I love writing, but to me an autobiography must be written with absolute candour, and if I were to be absolutely candid then I would get myself in terrible amounts of trouble!

On making documentaries...

I recently made a documentary (Trashed) about the global problem of waste. I wouldn’t mind making another documentary – but I would have to find the right subject matter. It would have to be something that was actually important, rather than just making another fictional story. It is part of what a storyteller does – which is what I am.

Certainly I think it has been much more interesting travelling and talking about the issues in Trashed than it is going around promoting another movie. There are only so many times that you can keep repeating the characteristics of a fictional character.

On taking risks...

I have always been a risk taker. I ride a motorcycle; I ride horses; I sail my boat in strange weathers – I believe that taking risks helps gives you extra life.

On the modern man..

The modern day gentleman should be able to listen, as this is the best way to draw out the best from another person. Communication and a love for other people are at the very core of our happiness. The awareness that we are all of great value, regardless of nationality or our walks of life or state of success, is the most important attribute a man can have.

On philanthropy...

There are some causes that I am happy to use my celebrity to help raise awareness for. With the Prison Phoenix Trust – which introduces meditation and yoga into prisons – I think it is a remarkably efficient and successful way to help prisoners with their rehabilitation, and if I can help the charity by raising their profile and getting the trust a bit more money, then all the better. I view it very much as a way of giving something back.

On mixing up the past and present...

Despite staring in The Borgias, Brideshead Revisited and multiple Shakespearian works, I’m not actually particularly drawn to doing period dramas. It is more a case of how the work comes to me. I don’t know what the ratio of modern-day projects and period pieces that I make, but I think I do my fair amount of both.

On his wardrobe...

I have clothes that I love that suit different occasions, and I rarely throw things out. I do have a black jacket that will normally get me out of trouble – it doesn’t crease when you pack it, and it can always make you look smart.

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