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2425 IRISH TATLER MAN
“ dmgoeatnneby oadrniefddfetvrheearntyt’sethwaishniyglysI –alinkIdeagltwoeatdyiosnvshooalvveed,”said Jeremy. “I cannot sit still for very long, it always seems “I love Ireland and we spend as much time as possible living
there,” said Jeremy. “It’s a beautiful country. I’m a country boy
such a waste of time.” at heart with a love of nature and gardening. You don’t get
There was the time when Jeremy amazed fellow passengers much more beautiful than Ireland. I try to get involved in the
community a little to show my appreciation of the area.”
in Shannon Airport lounge by getting cloth, mop and bucket
and starting to tidy up. The other half of ‘we’ is actress Sinéad Cusack to whom
Jeremy has been married since 1978. They have two sons,
“That’s a good example,“ he said. “As I saw it, the place was Sam and Max.
Ifilthy and needed a good clean for the comfort of passengers. “I am a family man,” he revealed. “Being in the acting
There didn’t seem to be any staff around and I was bored, profession means that you are apart for some stretches of
with time on my hands. The obvious thing seemed to me to time but you learn to cope with that and there are fantastic
lend a hand. There’s only so much reading you can take in a ways of communicating in this modern age. Our marriage has
transit lounge. stood the test of time, we are survivors.
“Airports aren’t my favourite places so finding another way of
passing the time has to be a good thing, especially if it is helping “I was amazed to find out that I had family connections in
someone else. I know some of the other passengers thought it the very area in which we choose to live. I felt an affinity with
was bizarre, but to me it was quite a logical thing to do.” the area and it all felt as if I had lived there before. When we
There was also the painting of his Irish castle a pink colour. did the television programme Who Do You think You Are? it
“It’s more a peach colour than pink,” he insists. “I’d thought was a very emotional experience and I discovered that a good
about painting it white but that would have been far too stark part of my heritage is wrapped not just in Ireland but in the
against such a wonderful background. The landscape has very area in which we now live.”
green fields, a bay that is blue, an expanse of sky that varies
between blue and grey and a sunset that blazes. White would They also have a home in Dublin and while Jeremy appears
not have worked in a setting like that. The peachy pink colour to be the quintessential Englishman, home is where his heart is.
works so much better and it only really looks like that from a
distance. When you are close by it looks completely different.” Jeremy is also one of the few members of an unofficial
The local residents of Roaringwater Bay in Cork were divided club in that he has done the actor’s grand slam of an Oscar,
in their opinions of Kilcoe Castle but it seems they have learned a Tony and an Emmy. He also added a Golden Globe to his
to live with it and quite enjoy having an Oscar-winning film achievements, an award for his role in Elizabeth 1.
star as a neighbour.
“I never know what to say when one of these things is
handed to me,” he admitted. “There is no doubting the delight
that you feel but it is quite humbling and at the same time
embarrassing. Since everyone is looking at you waiting to hear
what you are going to say as an acceptance of the award, you
feel decidedly uncomfortable. Winning is great but not
winning is more comfortable.”
« I never The awards are a tribute to Jeremy’s unmistakable talent. “There is nothing like raising the passions,” he laughed.
take From Brideshead Revisited to providing the voice for Scar, the “Whatever you do will please some people and displease others.
villainous lion in Disney’s The Lion King, Jeremy has at times I prefer to listen to those who are pleased.”
acting too set the female pulses racing with his sheer sensuality, while at
seriously, other times he has been so horrible that those same women In between his many work commitments Jeremy finds time
it is just a could cheerfully lob a stiletto at him. to compere classical concerts and help charities. At one time
professional he read aloud a number of letters from inmates in Canada to
game of “That’s what acting is about,” he smiles. “If your audience raise money and awareness of a prison service to help offenders
pretend » can forget who you are and get involved with your character re-establish their self-confidence and ability to cope with life
you know it’s working. I really like that. A good production will on the outside when they are released.
draw on the emotions of the audience so if that audience
doesn’t feel anything then you should have done better.” “I like to help where I can,“ he said. “There are some serious
issues out there which need support. They are very real to
Away from the screen and the stage which he has graced those involved. They should be taken seriously but not acting,
in many productions and in many of the world’s cities, Jeremy never take that too seriously, it is just a professional game of
is also something of a daredevil. He loves to ski, enjoys riding pretend.”
motorbikes (faster than he should) and also has a reputation
as a fine horseman. Jeremy was back our screens in 2016 as Batman’s butler,
Alfred, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
“I like to live life a little,” he said. “I’m not a wild man or
out to create an image. I just believe you should explore your “There is a very small and select band of us who have
passions. My work is one of my passions and I think I work played Batman’s butler and it is a great honour even if it is a
hard to perform as well as I can.” pretend one.”
That was obvious back in 1999 when he stole the show at There is no pretence about his approach to becoming
the Last Night of the Proms by performing five Noël Coward Chancellor of Bath Spa University.
favourites in the style of the man himself. The brilliant
performance is still mentioned by annual Promenaders. “I have always believed that education should be joined up
and the various disciplines should not be treated as alien to
“I put the same effort into my leisure time. Enjoy your time each other. I believe the unity of the various elements of
off as fully as you can because you have earned it. Some people education makes for more rounded individuals. At Bath Spa
like to just sit in the sun or read a book, I prefer to do things.” I have seen that there is a real effort to make this happen.
When I was invited to be Chancellor, it opened up the
His is an amazing story of how a boy born on the Isle of possibility of being involved in a quite new area. I never went
Wight grew up to become a thrilling-yet-threatening heart-throb. to university, and have not spent much time in the world of
education. It is a new adventure for me and I am already
“Someone once told me that if I had been born 30 years enjoying it immensely.”
earlier I would have been a matinée idol. I think that was meant
to be a compliment, I hope it was. I always wanted to be an Jeremy was also bestowed an Honorary-Life Membership
actor but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I got involved in by the University College Dublin Law Society a few years ago
drama productions at school. It was probably my best subject. in acknowledgement of his contribution to music and theatre,
I was one of those who worked at what was interesting and film and television.
shirked what wasn’t.”
“It was a great honour and well worth the embarrassment
Jeremy took advice and was admitted to the Bristol Old Vic of getting something I didn’t deserve,” he said.
School where he studied for two years.
A champion of so many causes, a dog lover, family man,
“I learned a great deal and the best part was that you lover of Ireland, theatre and screen actor, singer and brilliant
were doing productions all the time and there was a lot of narrator, what does Jeremy really like about his life.
encouragement to do well. At ordinary school you’re sometimes
looked upon as someone a bit strange if you want to act. At a “I love all of it,” he said. “I am not the sort of person who
stage school everyone is there for the same reason. enjoys celebrity but I try to turn it into something constructive
rather than just signing autographs. I do love helping and
“I think you get a more rounded education too because being active for others as well as for myself and, as for acting,
you find yourself appearing in all kinds of productions from well, I quite enjoy playing bad guys, I think it brings out the
Shakespeare to farce. I enjoyed my time there and the Bristol real actor in me. I am naturally a nice person so I have to work
Old Vic is not a bad start to your career.” harder to be nasty.” ITM
Conforming to such education seems unusual for a man Above: Facing page lower, left to right:
who has a reputation of being something of a loose cannon.
Irons with Anthony Irons played twins in David Cronenberg’s thriller
“I’m not really off-the-wall,” he assured. “I am just my own Andrews in the Dead Ringers, 1988; Kilcoe Castle in Cork, Irons’
person and I do things which seem perfectly normal to me BBC adaptation country retreat; with Robert de Niro in The Mission,
but seem to be a little strange to other people. I don’t think of Brideshead 1986; Irons in The Borgias, 2011; as Alfred in Batman
that is my fault. I think that some people have an odd way of Revisted, 1981 v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2016
viewing life and themselves, that’s all.”
Early in his career Jeremy played John the Baptist alongside
David Essex in the West End musical Godspell. A little later he
starred in Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom, Liam
Neeson and Eva Green. Both were controversial. Godspell was
criticised by some as being blasphemous and Kingdom of
Heaven was attacked for depicting the Crusades at a time when
there is modern sensitivity about tensions between religions.
2627 IRISH TATLER MAN
« I am naturally
a nice person
so I have to
work harder to
be nasty »