Jeremy John Irons (born 19th September 1948) is an English film, television, and stage actor. He has won the Academy Award, the Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, in addition to many other awards and honors.
Irons trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and is now president of its fundraising appeal. He performed a number of plays and supported himself by busking on the streets of Bristol, before appearing on the London stage as John the Baptist and Judas opposite David Essex in Godspell, which opened at the Round House on 17 November 1971 before transferring to Wyndham's Theatre playing a total of 1,128 performances.
Irons was bestowed an Honorary-Life Membership by the Law Society (University College Dublin) in September 2008, in honour of his contribution to television, film, audio, music and theatre.
He made several appearances on British television, including the children's television series Play Away and as Franz Liszt in the BBC 1974 series Notorious Woman. More significantly he starred in the 13-part adaptation of H.E. Bates' novel Love for Lydia for London Weekend Television (1977), and attracted attention for his key role as the pipe-smoking German student, a romantic pairing with Judi Dench in Harold Pinter's screenplay adaptation of Aidan Higgins' novel Langrishe, Go Down for BBC television (1978).
The role which brought him fame was that of Charles Ryder in the television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (1981). Brideshead reunited him with Anthony Andrews, with whom he had appeared in The Pallisers seven years earlier. In the same year he starred in the film The French Lieutenant's Woman opposite Meryl Streep.
Almost as a 'lap of honour' after these major successes, in 1982 he played the leading role of an exiled Polish building contractor, working in the Twickenham area of South West London, in Jerzy Skolimowski's independent film Moonlighting, widely seen on television, a performance which extended his acting range. Irons voiced Devious Diesel in Thomas and Friends.
In 2005, Irons won both an Emmy award and a Golden Globe award for his supporting role in the TV mini-series, Elizabeth I. A year later Irons was one of the participants in the third series of the BBC documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? In 2008 he played Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, an adaptation for Sky One.
Irons' film debut came with Nijinsky in 1980. He appeared sporadically in films during the 1980s, including the Cannes Palme d'Or winner The Mission in 1986, and in the dual role of twin physicians in David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers in 1988. Over the years, Irons has become known for playing somber, often mentally tortured characters. Other films include Danny the Champion of the World (1989), Reversal of Fortune (1990), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Kafka (1991), Damage (1993), The House of the Spirits (1993) appearing again with Glenn Close and Meryl Streep, Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995), Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty (1996), the 1997 remake of Lolita and as the musketeer Aramis opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1998 film version of The Man in the Iron Mask (1998). One of his more memorable performances was when he gave his voice to Scar in The Lion King (1994).
Other roles include playing the evil wizard Profion in the film Dungeons and Dragons (2000). He played Rupert Gould in Longitude (2000). He played the Über-Morlock from the movie The Time Machine (2002). In 2004, Irons played Severus Snape in Comic Relief's Harry Potter parody, "Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan". Irons and Alan Rickman (who plays Snape in the Harry Potter film series), played the Gruber brothers, Simon and Hans, respectively, in the Die Hard film series.
In 2005, he appeared in the films Casanova opposite Heath Ledger, and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. He has co-starred with John Malkovich in two movies; The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and Eragon (2006), though they did not have any scenes together in Eragon.
Irons read the audio book recording of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, and the audio book recording of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.
He serves as the English-language version of the audio guide for Westminster Abbey in London.
In 1985, Irons directed a music video for Carly Simon and her heavily promoted single, "Tired of Being Blonde". In 1994 Jeremy Irons had a cameo role in the video for Elastica's hit single 'Connection'. Irons was one of the many naked men sitting down around Elastica as they performed the song. Irons has since claimed that this 3 minute slice of nudity was his most enjoyable work to date.
In 2003 he played Fredrik Egerman in a New York revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, and two years later appeared as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe's Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl.
In 2009 Irons appeared on the Touchstone album Wintercoast, recording a narrative introduction to the album. Recording took place in New York City in February 2009 during rehearsals for his Broadway play Impressionism. Irons has twice worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1976 and 1986–87. In 1984, Irons made his New York debut and won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance opposite Glenn Close in The Real Thing.
He made his National Theatre debut playing Harold Macmillan in Never So Good, a new play by Howard Brenton which opened at the Lyttelton on 19 March 2008.
He is also the patron since 2002 of the Thomley Activity Centre, an Oxfordshire non-profit activity centre for disabled children. Irons owns Kilcoe Castle (which he had painted a rusty pink) in County Cork, Ireland, and has become involved in local politics there. He also has another Irish residence in The Liberties, Dublin. Irons is a patron of the Chiltern Shakespeare Company. He is a fan of Portsmouth football club.
At the 1991 Tony Awards, Irons was one of the few celebrities to wear the recently created red ribbon to support the fight against AIDS, and he was the first celebrity to wear it onscreen. He supports a number of other charities, including the Prison Phoenix Trust of which he is an active patron.