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My Oh Meyers!
More, April 3-16, 2002

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More! has a dribble over the star of the new footie flick Bend It Like Beckham, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers had a difficult childhood. He spent time in an Irish orphanage, was permanently expelled from school, and then, hard up and hungry, he started stealing. Fortunately, when he was 17 he was spotted by a casting agent while in a local pool hall and his acting career took off. Since then, Jonathan’s starred in more than 20 films alongside actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Minnie Driver, Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel. And now, in his latest movie, Bend It Like Beckham, the 24-year-old plays Joe, the coach of a girls’ football team. We decided to tackle him with a few questions.

Did you enjoy making the film?
It was great to actually be playing a normal guy for once – someone who’s very kind, rather than the normal weirdo parts I get.

You don’t look like a weirdo, so why do you think you always get cast as one?
I’m just offered that sort of role. In the film Gormenghast, they wanted someone to look very dark and mysterious. In Ride With The Devil, the director wanted me to look like this mad poet. And in Velvet Goldmine, they were after a pretty boy with that glam-rock musician kind of look. At least I’m versatile!

An now you’re playing a football coach. Do you class yourself as a footie fan?
As much as the next man, but I’d say only 50% of my part is about the football. The other half is about motivating the players – it’s all down to psychology.

But you still had to do football training?
Oh God, yeah. Every day. In fact, I reckon if I turned my hand to it, I could make it my career – then again, I don’t have any aspirations to be David Beckham.

What do you think about women playing football?
Well, it’s much more fun watching them than blokes. Seriously, though, they’re great athletes, just the same as men. No one thinks twice about female sprinters at the Olympics, so there shouldn’t be this stigma surrounding female footie players.

You once said: ‘Acting is easy, you just say your lines.’ Is that still true?
[Laughing] No, that’s a load of shite. Yeah, I said that, but I was very young and cocky at the time. I mean, I know acting’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy for most people. I’ve never had any drama classes, though, so everything I do is instinctive. In fact, I’m still amazed I got into acting.

Because you were expelled from school and turned to stealing…
Yeah, I suppose I could have been destined for a life of crime, but I remember sitting in a coffee shop one day, looking at the other kids and thinking: ‘I’m different.’ I didn’t want to be stealing and fortunately I was spotted by a casting agent.

And now you’ve already starred alongside some pretty amazing actors. Do you ever get star-struck?
No, not at all. Once you’ve seen them on set, you know they’re just normal people. It’s marvelous watching them and picking up tips. I recently finished Prozac Nation with Christina Ricci, which was fantastic — she’s smart and great fun.

So what do you want to do next?
I’d love to do a big Hollywood blockbuster or a James Bond movie. A lot of actors say they want to do something serious, but I think it’d be fun to star in an action movie. It would be great to play someone who’s over-the-top.

Do you still go back to Ireland a lot?
I try. I love Ireland. It’s a great place to live and people welcome you with open arms.

How do you relax?
I find it really difficult. I’m 24, 10st 7lb and I can’t sit still. I’m always fretting about the future. I ride, but the horse I have isn’t broken in and tries to kick me around the place.

Do you like being a sex symbol?
Yeah, it’s alright. It would be worse if I was on a list of Most Horrible Men, wouldn’t it?

What do you look for in a girl?
I don’t look for anything any more, because I’ve been with my girlfriend Chacha for a couple of years and we’re now engaged. She’s turned me from a boy into a man.

Ok, to finish, tell us an embarrassing story about yourself.
I remember running on set in a pair of shorts and my tackle fell out. I didn’t notice, but everyone else did. I’m sure they were ogling!

Special thanks to Geesey for transcribing this article.

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