Jeremy Irons

  1. Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange, 1970.   Long before Stanley Kubrick, the other people trying to film the dystopian Anthony Burgess novel included David Hemmings, Mick Jagger, Tinto Brass, Ken Russell, Candy-man Terry Southern and… surprise, surprise, the totally unknown Irons. Well, he had fans aplenty of his work at the Bristol, Old Vic but he did not arrive in London until 1971,  and started making his name as John the Baptist on-stage in Godspell and TV’s Brideshead Revisited.Stanley Kubrick delayed his version until finding the right leading thug. Once he saw Lindsey Anderson’ s Ifin 1968,  he told his wife: “We’ve found our Alex.”And if McDowell hadn’t been available, “I probably wouldn’t have made the film.”

  2. Michael York, Cabaret, 1971.  
    To accommodate Liza Minnelli, Sally Bowles was changed from Brit to Yank in the Bob Fosse musical – and so vice-versa for her pal, Brian Roberts (aka author Christopher Isherwood, called Clifford Bradshaw on stage). About 20 Brits were seen for Brian including They included Tim Curry, not yet Dr Frank-N-Furter in rights; Timothy Dalton, the most recent Heathcliff; David Hemmings, Mr Blow Up; Jeremy Irons, not yet chosen for movies; Malcolm McDowell, the Clockwork Orange;  John McEnery, but not his starrier brother, Peter; Paul Nicholas, singer-actor; Leonard Whiting, the 1967 Romeo. And Bruce Robinson, who after 15 acting gigs, became a writer-director of such underground hits as the classic Withnail & I.   John Rubinstein was the sole American, when it looked as if York could not  get free in time and Brian would be American, after all.  So how did York win?  “Hearing they were looking for ‘a Michael York type,’ I ventured to suggest that I might still possibly fill the bill.”

  3. Anthony Andrews, Brideshead Revisited, TV, 1981.    When BBC producer Derek Granger asked Andrews to play Charles Ryder, he said no thank you – feel sure I’d make a better Sebastian Flyte. And so he did. After swopping roles with Irons, who stole th show. He also won time off to make The French Lieutenant’s Woman with Meryl Streep.  
  4. Christopher Benjamin,The Plague Dogs, 1981.   Read for voicing Rowf, a dog escaping from a research laboratory -the second toon from a Richard Adams  novel after  Watership Down1977.
  5. Ben Cross, L’Attenzione/The Lie, Italy, 1984.    Announced, too rapidly, for the Alberto Moravia novel by the sultry star, Stefania Sandrelli, and her director-lover Giovanni Soldati.
  6. Neil Dickson, Biggles, 1985.    The flying ace of countless UK schoolboys’ wascleared for take-off in 1982 after James Fox and even Dudley Moore weregrounded as James Bigglesworth. (Some 21 years later, Dickson and Irons, were in David Lynch’s InlandEmpire).
  7. Timothy Dalton, The Doctor and the Devils, 1985. First reserve for Anthony Hopkins when US producer Lawrence Schiller set out to make the  32-year-old  script by Swansea’s Dylan Thomas, the self-styled  “Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive.”
  8. Robert Redford, Out of Africa, 1985.    Frank Price had  fled from Columbia to Universal.  But  budget gambles remained the same. He had two here. One for Irons was $17m – or $10m more for Redford. He voted Redford as the safer bet in the ancillary markets. This the same Price who rejectedET  at Cilumbiua and OKed Howard The Duckat Universal. The post flop headline ran: DUCK COOKS PRICE’S GOOSE.
  9. Theresa Russell, Aria, 1987.    London producer Don Boyd’s idea was one operatic aria per ten directors.Director Nicolas Roeg set his choice around King Zog of Albania fending off an assassination attempt, outside the Vienna Opera House in 1931. Irons was Zog until a drunken evening in Vienna when Boyd said Nic’s wife – setasZog’smistress- should play Zog!”  Theresa was immediately keen. And it worked brilliantly – no dialogue for one thing.” Make-up artists took three hours transforming Theresa into Zog, packing her waist-length hair under a wig and adding designer-stubble to her chin.
  10. Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, 1989.

  11. Sean Connery, The Russia House, 1990.The book’s celebrated author, John le Carré, blocked Irons- on what he called moral grounds. Because of an incident in a London park. “Irons’s vicious dogs,” le Carré explained, “attacked my smaller dogs. He never stooped to apologize.” (They may have had an altercation, said Irons,but he did not recall any dogs being hurt.)
  12. Timothy Dalton, The Rocketeer, 1990.  Nothing like a sly British villain…  Charles Dance was also in the Disney mix for Neville Sinclair,  a Hollywood star who is not all he should be – based on Errol Flynn  and his alleged Nazi connections. A flop. Of course. It was science-fiction, a subject Disney knew nothing about. Why they bought Lucasfilm! 
  13. Gary Oldman, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, 1991.     Part of the 1988 cast with Robert Lindsay and Sean Connery. None survived to Tom Stoppard’s film of his play.
  14. Armand Assante,The Mambo Kings, 1992.Helming debut of producer (and gallery-owner) Arnold Glimcher, who said Assante as César was “the thrill of my life.”
  15. Gary Oldman, Dracula, 1992.   Irons was director Francis Coppola’s favourite blood-sucker after Daniel Day-Lewis.
  16. Richard Harris, Unforgiven,1992.     Clint Eastwood failed to get all his Irons in the fire of his finest Western.
  17. Anthony Hopkins, Remains of the Day, 1993.   Before it became another Merchant-Ivory gem this had been on director Mike Nichols to-do list – with Irons-Anjelica Huston.  Merchant-Ivory chose Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as thwarted lovers, butler and housekeeper to the gentry. Both as impeccable as the film – an oh so English study from a Japanese writer, Kazuo Ishiguro, Indian producer Ismail Merchant and American director James Ivory.  As briiliant as he could be, Nichols could not have made it better.
  18. Michael Caine, On Deadly Ground,1993.  What – with Steven Seagal directing himself? That was an obvious no-no!  Caine must have had another house to buy… Irons kept his villainy for Bruce Willis and the farbetter Die Hard: With A Vengeance, 1995.
  19. Robert De Niro, Frankenstein, 1994.   One of Kenneth Branagh’s choices for The Monster… and Irons has a definite Karloffian look.
  20. Tom Cruise, Interview With The Vampire, 1994.

  21. William Hurt, Jane Eyre, 1996.    Bronte according to Zeffirelli.
  22. Chazz Palminteri, Diabolique, 1996.   Warners’ secondchoice afterJack Nicholson did not please Sharon Stone.Shetoldco-star Isabelle Adjani: “I don’t think he has a dick.” Certainly, the film had no balls.
  23. Jonathan Pryce, Evita, 1996.  Met the project’s fourth director, Glenn Gordon Caron, in March 1991 to discuss being Juan Peron opposite Madonna.
  24. Jason Issacs, Event Horizon, 1996.     One British Jeremy for another as DJ in director Paul WS Anderson’s The Shining in Space – studio slashed from 130 (violent) mjnutes to 96.  The title warned us.  In astrophysics, an event horizon is a boundary beyond which events cannot affect an observer.  Exactly!
  25. Stephen Dillane, Welcome To Sarajevo, 1997.    Entered in the 50th Cannes festival.
  26. Christopher Lee, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2000-2002.
  27. Gabriel Byrne, Wah-Wah, 2004.  Actor Richard E Grant turned writer-director to relate his Swaziland childhood with dysfunctional, not to say wildly inappropriate parents – finally played by Byrne  and Miranda Richardson.   
  28. Titus Welliver, Once in the Life, 2005.    With his Matrix fame – and millions! -Laurence Fisburne filmed his own play, offering choices roles toIrons and Madonna.
  29. John Hurt, The Oxford Murders, 2008.    Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia chased his candidates to play hishotshot maths professor Arthur Seldom:Irons, Michael Caine and… Hurt.
  30. Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn, 2010.He preferred setting up his feature film directing debut to playing Laurence Olivier making The Prince and the Showgirl, with Monroe in London, circa 1956. “A legend, “said The Guardian critic Peter Bradfdshaw, “for the lack of chemistry between its insecure and incompatible stars. One was a sexy, feminine, sensual and mercurial diva. The other would go on to make Some Like It Hot.
  31. James Corden, Into The Woods, 2013.  







 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  31