Johnny come early
By Erin McCafferty
Dublin Daily, May 15, 2003
Cork-born actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers has the sensual, androgynous looks of a Calvin Klein model. Erin McCafferty got up close and personal with the movie star.
There’s a rumour doing the rounds at the moment that Jonathan Rhys Meyers is set to become the next James Bond.
The 25-year-old from Cork thinks that’s hilarious. “I don’t know where that rumour came from,” he laughs. “There is absolutely no truth to it. I have never even been asked to go for a screen test for the part. I have to admit it’s a nice thought though,” he hastens to add.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is charming. Notoriously private, he regularly shies away from interviews. When he does open up however, he is honest, funny and surprisingly unaffected by his fast-growing fame.
Blessed with perfect bone structure, he has a refined and sensitive face.
It’s no wonder the word “beautiful” is often used to describe him.
This is the Cork man who is fast becoming one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. He’s not yet 26 yet but is presently making his 30th film and has worked with many of Hollywood’s best directors and actors.
In the past he has glammed it up in Velvet Goldmine, gone gothic in Gormenghast and shot the Big Fella in Michael Collins. He even had to turn down a part in Gangs Of New York because he was too busy. At present he is in London rehearsing for a part in Vanity Fair, which also stars Jeremy Irons and Jim Broadbent.
“The past few years have been a bit heavy,” he says. “I’ve gone from one film to another in a short space of time. Thirty films in seven years is quite a lot and it leaves little time for anything else.
“At the moment I don’t live anywhere in particular. I just live from a suitcase in whatever location I’m filming. I do own an apartment in Southern Morocco, and I’ve bought a house in Cork which my mother lives in but to be honest I don’t get home as often as I’d like.
“I do miss Ireland,” says Jonathan. “I miss the craic and I miss knowing what’s going on. I see my old friends so little and more and more I find when we do catch up that they have moved on. It’s hard in that respect but I shouldn’t complain. I’m aware that I’ve been very lucky so far.
Some would call it luck but others put his success down to a special talent.
Rhys Meyers was first spotted by a talent scout in a pool hall in Cork at the tender age of 16 and was asked to audition for War Of The Buttons. He didn’t get that part, but he did get a part in a Knorr commercial. “I’d rather forget about that,” he laughs.
Since then he’s has starred in one great film after another and his reputation as an actor has grown. He is particularly noted for his screen presence.
“Even though I’ve done all these films I don’t feel famous,” says Jonathan.
“I always feel like I’m just going out and doing a job. I still feel like an underdog.
The trappings of fame clearly do not affect him. “The fame thing really doesn’t matter to me,” he says. “I never wanted to be a celebrity. It just happened. At the end of the day I’m looking for longevity.
“Of course I have some desire for money because I have to live but it’s not important to me either.
“I could never live in Hollywood for instance because over there the bottom line is the dollar and that’s just not me.
“As for being called a sex symbol, well you should have seen me at 11 o’clock this morning,” he laughs. “I don’t take any of that stuff too seriously. I have three brothers at home who would take me down a peg or two if I did.
“They’re all musicians you know. They tell me they’ve got real talent!”
If he wasn’t an actor, Jonathan would like to be writing short stories for children. “I couldn’t write a screenplay,” he says. “I’d find it too frustrating.
“I prefer to act. When I’m not acting I try to relax but I’m not very good at it,” he says.
“I read, play music, and go the pub, all the usual things. I’ve never been very good at relaxing though. You could put me in a flotation tank and I’d still manage to be jittery.
“I remember acting with Glenn Close in The Lion In Winter. She helped me a lot. She told me not to try so hard. She said, ‘Do absolutely nothing’.
“These days I’m practising being still. As a leading man I need to be solid and relaxed,” he says frankly.
“I love what I do for a living most of the time. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse but at the end of the day I’m a lucky bastard.”