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Hot Actor: Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Rolling Stone, August 20, 1998

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A fresh face in a world hungry for a new Leonardo DiCaprio/Daniel Day-Lewis mutation, Jonathan Rhys Meyers – who makes a suitably colorful impression as Bowie-esque rock star Brian Slade in the upcoming Velvet Goldmine – is about to learn about fame, fame, fame, fame. In the film, directed by Todd Haynes (Safe), Slade’s manager, played by Brit comic Eddie Izzard, declares, “The secret to being a star is to behave like one.” But the twenty-one-year-old Rhys Meyers – who grew up in County Cork, Ireland, and was first spotted by a casting director at a pool hall when he was fifteen – is focused on the work. “When you want to be an actor, especially in film,s you’ve got to have a certain arrogance,” he says with characteristic intensity. “But I’m looking at things in the long term, because a star is very short term – you only see it when it explodes.”

Clearly, Rhys Meyers doesn’t idealize his profession. “All actors are lazy,” he confesses. “You get on a set and immediately people are wiping your ass for you, and nobody tells you when you’re being an asshole. I’m sure nobody working for Tom Cruise would turn around and say, ‘Tom, don’t do that anymore because you’re a fucking dickhead to do that.’ Actually, he might quite like it.”

So far, Rhys Meyers has been too busy to be lazy. He’s worked in, among other films, Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins and Suri Krishnamma’s A Man of No Importance. Coming up in The Governess, with Minnie Driver, and Ride With the Devil, Ang Lee’s Civil War epic with Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire and America’s best-selling poet Jewel, whom Rhys Meyers calls “a beautiful woman.”

In Velvet Goldmine – executive-produced by Michael Stipe and also starring Ewan McGregor as the Iggy Pop-y Curt Wild – Rhys Meyers embraces the androgyny of his flashy role. “People are always being labeled,” he explains, “so you’re a dude or a chick. Here in L.A., anyway, that’s all going out the fuckin’ window. When I look at magazines, I don’t see feminine women and manly men. I see beautiful boys and sexy girls. They’re trying to crossbreed into what it would be like to have a boy-girl – that’s very attractive to people.”

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