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The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Jeremy Irons

03.21.2016
Last week, we took a look at the career of character actor Michael Shannon. This week, we turn our gaze to another famed character actor/leading man, who's about to put his stamp on an iconic part in one of the biggest movies of the year...
Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons has always been a striking screen presence. As a child of the eighties and nineties, I knew him mostly from voicing Scar in THE LION KING although even by the time I saw DIE HARD WITH A  VENGEANCE in ’95 (when I was thirteen) I knew of his reputation as an art-house staple, with only occasional forays (at the time) into the Hollywood mainstream.

As I got older I started to go back and watch some of his movies and around the time I was utterly grossed-out and fascinated by a late-night screening of DEAD RINGERS on the CBC, I knew he was one of the great talents of his generation. Despite this, he’s had his professional ups and downs. The nineties were probably his best era, but a horrible, scenery-chewing performance in DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, followed by turn in the thoroughly mediocre THE TIME MACHINE led to a quiet few years, before he came back with a juicy part in Ridley Scott’s compromised KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (please see the amazing director’s cut).

Since then, Irons has settled-in as one of the great, mature English character actors, dividing his time evenly between parts in big-budget Hollywood movies like BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and – notably – a new on-going part as Alfred in BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, and more art-house centric turns, such as in David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE and HIGH-RISE. Always in-demand, Irons is an unmistakable presence and always on everyone’s shortlist of the most iconic actors in the biz – and well-worthy of being called a badass.

His Best Work
 

To me, Irons has never been better than he was in David Cronenberg’s ultra-twisted DEAD RINGERS. Playing twin gynecologists, one of the brothers, Beverly, is quiet and shy while the other, Elliot, is a smooth-talking lady-killer. As the movie goes-on, it becomes darker and darker, with one of the brothers commissioning bizarre gynecological tools to “operate on mutant women”, as both slip into drug abuse and insanity. It’s a weird, often gross movie but it remains one of Cronenberg’s most iconic works, and Irons is incredible.

His Most Overrated Film

 As much as I like Irons, he does have a tendency to get a little theatrical at times and that occasionally mars his performances. Once such case was THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, a movie he did where he plays a Chilean land-baron, not a part that would seem to be too ideal a fit. He actually fares better than any of the other Europeans and American actors trying to come-off as Latin, but it’s a weird movie to watch with everyone using these phony, broad accents – although this was definitely the norm back in the nineties when this was produced. 

His Most Underrated Film

Remember the time Jeremy Irons played the lead in an action film? Of course you don’t, as the movie, THE FOURTH ANGEL, barely got a release. Having wrapped hot-on-the-heels of 9/11, it was one of several terrorism-related movies that got buried although I remember seeing it on cable and thinking it was pretty decent. Irons plays a reporter for The Economist, whose wife and two children are murdered right-in-front of his eyes during a brutal terrorist hijacking. When the killers are turned loose, Irons teams up with an FBI agent (Forest Whitaker) for payback. Watching the posh, reserved Irons ride around on a motorcycle and fire an Uzi is awfully weird at first, but what made the film unique is exactly that Irons feels like such a sophisticated, non-violent type of guy, making his DEATH WISH transformation more striking. It’s not a great movie, but it’s intriguing and well-directed by B-movie genre specialist John Irvin (HAMBURGER HILL, RAW DEAL).

His Best Scene

If’ you’re between the ages of 25-35, you probably grew-up watching THE LION KING over-and-over, and I’m sure Irons’s vocal performance as the villainous Scar haunted many of your dreams. The scene where he kills Mufasa (voiced by James Earl Jones) is pretty heavy for a G-rated Disney flick, and an iconic moment in the studio’s history.

His Five Best Films

5. KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
4. MOONLIGHTING
3. THE LION KING
2. DEAD RINGERS
1. THE MISSION

Up Next

With him kicking-off his Alfred-run with BATMAN V SUPERMAN, Irons has likely found himself a comfortable little place in a major franchise, but even still he’s got another potential franchise in the making with a part opposite Michael Fassbender (who resembles him as a young man) in ASSASSIN’S CREED.   

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:38PM on 03/21/2016
Don't know how you can have an article about Jeremy Irons without even mentioning 'Reversal of Fortune.' His Claus von Bülow was greatness.

Alan Dershowitz: "You are a very strange man."
Claus von Bülow: "You have no idea."
Don't know how you can have an article about Jeremy Irons without even mentioning 'Reversal of Fortune.' His Claus von Bülow was greatness.

Alan Dershowitz: "You are a very strange man."
Claus von Bülow: "You have no idea."
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1:59PM on 03/21/2016

I might get a lot of hate for this

But I truly think that Irons is one of the most overrated actors of the modern era. I'll admit that I haven't seen Dead Ringers, but I have seen him in The Mission, The French Lieutenant's Woman,The House oft he Spirits, Reversal of Fortune and Stealing Beauty, all of which he gives absolutely generic Oscar bait performances. You could replace him in any of those roles with any number of talented British actors and they would have delivered a more vibrant, distinct performance.I mean heck
But I truly think that Irons is one of the most overrated actors of the modern era. I'll admit that I haven't seen Dead Ringers, but I have seen him in The Mission, The French Lieutenant's Woman,The House oft he Spirits, Reversal of Fortune and Stealing Beauty, all of which he gives absolutely generic Oscar bait performances. You could replace him in any of those roles with any number of talented British actors and they would have delivered a more vibrant, distinct performance.I mean heck imagine Gary Oldman in his role in The Mission or Reversal of Fortune and suddenly the character is 1,000 times more interesting. Okay, few actors can compete with Oldman, so maybe that's not entirely fair, but seriously imagine Tim Roth or Bill Nighy or John Hurt or even American actors of the same era like Martin Sheen or Al Pacino and the point still holds. I don't think that Irons is untalented, but I do think that he's a pretty vanilla actor with a severe tendency to overact whose reputation mainly rests on picking a string of awards friendly hits at the right time of career.

Oh and for the record I really did like him in Kingdom of Heaven (and the Director's Cut), but even in that case I felt the part could have been even better had it been played by any number of other actors.
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11:08AM on 03/21/2016
Such a terrific actor. He was also great in Margin Call.
Such a terrific actor. He was also great in Margin Call.
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12:03PM on 03/21/2016
Margin Call is also greatly underrated.
Margin Call is also greatly underrated.
10:27AM on 03/21/2016
I love the guy even though in all reality I've probably only seen a handful of his films but he always has a magnificent presence. I'm glad you gave recognition to his performance in Kingdom of Heaven, the director's cut restored a truly great performance from him (as it did many of the supporting actors). I think Dead Ringers is his best work, at least from what I've seen. He is one of the most versatile actors ever. When I think about what I've seen from him I do realize I've seen less than
I love the guy even though in all reality I've probably only seen a handful of his films but he always has a magnificent presence. I'm glad you gave recognition to his performance in Kingdom of Heaven, the director's cut restored a truly great performance from him (as it did many of the supporting actors). I think Dead Ringers is his best work, at least from what I've seen. He is one of the most versatile actors ever. When I think about what I've seen from him I do realize I've seen less than what I thought but it's because he makes such an impression on screen that I remember his performance long after the movie is over. Kind of like Alan Rickman (RIP). Being almost 30, I can definitely say the scene where Scar kills Mufasa is one of the most memorable (devastating and haunting at that) moments of my childhood. He managed to do that with just his voice. Great actor.
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10:24AM on 03/21/2016
Oh, Man! I Love Jeremy Irons! He's a real badass alright. He makes every role very interesting. I think his best work, apart from Dead Ringers, is Reversal of Fortune. By the end of the movie, you're not sure who to believe. As for his underrated wor, I'd go with Margin Call. His small role as a CEO for a financial company is calm yet ruthless and heartless and only Jeremy Irons could pull it off.
Oh, Man! I Love Jeremy Irons! He's a real badass alright. He makes every role very interesting. I think his best work, apart from Dead Ringers, is Reversal of Fortune. By the end of the movie, you're not sure who to believe. As for his underrated wor, I'd go with Margin Call. His small role as a CEO for a financial company is calm yet ruthless and heartless and only Jeremy Irons could pull it off.
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