My oh Meyers!
By Caroline Hedley
More, November 12-25, 2003
It’s 10:30 am and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is half an hour late. When he finally arrives, he’s feeling rough after a heavy night out — not that you’d know to look at him. The 26-year-old [sic] Bend it Like Beckham star from Ireland is even more beautiful in the flesh than he is on screen. After a sobering black coffee, the actor — whose film, Octane, has just been released — perks up and tells us all about soup ads, celeb women and free sports cars…
Has your hangover got anything to do with the fact that you’re filming Alexander with Colin Farrell at the moment?
[laughs] Are you asking if he’s been leading me astray? Nah, to be honest I don’t see him all that often — it’s a pretty big cast! But he’s a really cool guy and a fantastic actor. He honed his craft on a TV series and it’s really paid off — he hasn’t made his mistakes in public, like I have.
What mistakes would those be?
There are bloody hundreds of them — too many to name. I didn’t go to stage school — so I’ve made all the errors people usually make in a school production, but I’ve made them on the big screen!
So how did you get spotted?
I was expelled from school when I was 15 — I was more interested in messing around than studying — so I started hustling pool. I was really nervous doing it because I usually wouldn’t have the money I was betting against, and then I’d end up losing and owing it, or I’d run out of the door in case I had the crap beaten out of me. I was in the pool hall one day when these people from a film company came in — they asked me to audition for a film called War of the Buttons. I’d never done any acting, so obviously I didn’t get the part.
But you did get to star in a Knorr soup commercial…
I’d rather not talk about that! But I felt incredibly rejected when I didn’t get the film part, and for two months I refused to watch television or videos. It took a year and a half of back-to-back auditions before I got my break. So it all paid off — although getting parts still isn’t easy.
Even after you played Joe in Bend it Like Beckham?
Yeah, I’m still just taking what I’m offered! Actors are limited, so at the end of the day we’ve got to make a living, and if you’ve only got one offer, then that’s what you take. At the moment, I’m hovering between being “you’re well known and on your way” and “you’re there”. Sometimes this job’s a pain in the arse, but at the end of the day I’m a lucky sod.
Rumour has it you’ve got a great singing voice…
We’ve been told it’s more like “amazing”. Maybe you and Colin could record a duet?
We certainly will not! But I’d quite like to record something anonymously — I’d put some beautiful kid on the cover and pretend to be him. I’d never play live, just let the public think there’s some gorgeous, mysterious guy out there who they can’t track down!
Surely you’re gorgeous and mysterious enough in real life?
[laughs] I don’t see myself like that at all. But thanks!
You’re still living in Ireland. How long before you ditch it for LA?
I’d never move to LA — that place would totally do my head in. The truth is, I live out of a suitcase! In the last 18 months, I’ve been filming in Thailand, Luxembourg, Hungary, America, England, Slovakia, France, Portugal and now Morocco!
That’s a lot of stamps in your passport…
I just had my passport stolen in Slovakia, actually. It was a total nightmare cos [sic] I had to go to America for an audition, which I screwed up because it had taken so long to sort out a way to get me there. And the bastards took all my money and my driving license, too.
You’re really unlucky when it comes to crime, aren’t you?
Yeah — I was held hostage when I was 17. I was living with a family who had this huge estate, and six men with shotguns just burst in. For the first five seconds the most absurd things were going through my head — like they were making as SAS TV series. It was only when I had a gun held to my head that I realised it was for real.
That must have been terrifying…
Not really, cos I knew they were after money, an once they got it they’d go. I was more afraid of them beating the shit out of me. After an hour they’d got what they wanted and left.
Were they ever caught?
I think they were caught a couple of years later for a different crime. I didn’t feel all that relieved when I found out, as it’s not something I’ve dwelt on since the event.
Are there any celebs whose lives you’re envious of?
Not really. But I wouldn’t mind being Michael Jackson for a day. I’d just love to know what goes on in that man’s life. I find the whole mega-celebrity thing fascinating — but I’m so glad my life’s not like that.
You’re trying to tell us you don’t want to be an A-lister?
Why would anyone want that level of fame? The last thing I’d want is cameras on my arse 24/7. I love my job, but having people following me into the toilets? That’s just ridiculous. Luckily, I rarely get papped. But they haven’t got any reason to stalk me — it’s not like I go out with Cameron Diaz.
Bet you’d like to…
No, I wouldn’t at all. I don’t ever want to date an actress — people in this profession are very difficult to live with. There’s always the ego thing — and the insecurity. Give me a normal, down-to-earth girl any day!
You can have us! What would it be like to be your girlfriend?
Well, the most romantic thing I ever did for a girl was pay for her to get her teeth whitened. That might not sound all that nice, but I think looking after a person’s health is the most romantic thing you can do.
Since when was having non-white teeth unhealthy?!
It is for the person you’re kissing!
Erm, OK! Why haven’t you got any celeb mates?
It’s not a conscious choice — maybe they just can’t stand me!
And you’ve never said: ‘Don’t you know who I am?’
[laughs] I haven’t, and I don’t plan to! I might get stroppy sometimes, but never because I think people should treat me in a certain way. It’s funny — you’ll find that the proper stars never throw tantrums. It’s only the insecure ones that do and it’s pretty sad, really.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever read about yourself?
I didn’t brush my hair when I woke up one morning, and a few days later this hair magazine wrote that I had ‘teased it to perfection’. Like, as if!
Do you blag loads of freebies?
I must be doing something wrong. I heard Paul Walker got three free sports cars after The Fast and The Furious. And what do I get? Not a thing! If I got a sports car, though, I wouldn’t even sit in it — I’d sell it.
And then spend the money on Gucci clothes?
I have no clothes — I own maybe four pairs of jeans, six T-shirts and two shirts. The only thing I spend money on is CDs and beer!
That’ll change when you hit the big time…
[laughs] D’you reckon? I’ll get myself a huge entourage? And an ego to match? I’m sure the boys back home in Cork would love that!
Special thanks to Vanessa for transcribing this article.