Jonathan Rhys Meyers
by Jessica Mellor
Empire, November 1998
Trouble teenager Gets Physical with Ewan McGregor
Irish-born Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s life so far is the sort of success story that makes great movies. After such small roles in such critical hits as A Man of No Importance he will this month be thrust into the limelight taking almost top-billing as the 70s glam-rock god Brian Slade in Todd Haynes’ Velvet Goldmine.
At 16, Rhys Meyers has been kicked out of school and was at a club when he was asked to audition for a film.
“I didn’t get that part and felt utterly rejected, but I had a hungry,” explains the softly-spoken 20-year-old. “I’d had a very poor background and I knew how to survive.”
Said survival came in the form of his first film role in The Disappearance of Finbar, followed quickly by parts in The Governess and Velvet Goldmine. With all three released this month, audiences could be forgiven for thinking that this saturation of our cinemas is a conscious thing- but Rhys Meyers simply hasn’t stopped working. In fact, he recently completed co-starring duties alongside Toeby Maguire in Ang Lee’s Civil War love triangle Ride With The Devil. And now his foot’s in the door, the acting part of it comes pretty easy.
“I don’t think I work hard enough because I feel like I should have a method. But I don’t really do anything, I just act,” he admits.
Starring with Ewan McGregor and Toni Collette in Goldmine, Rhys Meyers plays a troubled teenager who reinvents himself, which is not unlike his roles in the other two movies. Is he in danger of being typecast?
“No, because youth is troubling, so I don’t mind playing that. It’s very difficult to be young because everyone expects you to be adult but doesn’t treat you as one.”
But the burning question is, considering he sleeps with both of them, how did his two co-stars in Goldmine compare in on-screen bedroom stakes?
“Toni and I went out with each for 11 months. I was very happy that she was playing my wife, and I am still very much in love with her,” he gushes. “But sometimes no matter how much people are in love you just can’t give each other that time. And Ewan’s a good lad, he’s good fun. We had to do a lot of lovey-dovey stuff but I never felt uncomfortable with that. In fact, it was interesting playing a bisexual for ten weeks without being criticised as a human being…”