By Skye Sherwin
I-D Magazine, February 2005

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Beautiful and damned: Rhys Meyers is back to hustle

Jonathan Rhys Meyers struts into the bar in the slinkiest bar of tan leather trousers, lights a cigarette, fiddles iwth his cup and saucer and proceeds to throw out seductive glances with giddy momentum: part ingenue, part hustler. This is clearly a good time for Meyers. First up he has Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair adaptation in which he plays spoiled party child George Osborne. Then there’s his starring turn in Woody Allen’s top-secret London film with Scarlett Johansson. It’s about time. The actor’s livewire lost boy image is well established. From Mike Hodges’ re-imagining of the Brit gangster template, I’ll Sleep Whem I’m Dead, to the glam rock escapade Velvet Goldmine, his performance is never less than compelling, the dark jewel in a broken crown. Charmingly barmy and beautiful, the actor is sometimes so slippery you suspect that not even Jonathan really knows where Jonathan’s at.

Was it quite a girly environment on the Vanity Fair set?
Mira’s got a strange almost hermaphrodite sexuality about her. When she’s with girls she’s very girly. With boys she’s very strident. I think she really enjoyed watching these men walk around in tight trousers, uniforms, high boots, cuffs. It was really sexy to her.

Do you enjoy playing with your sexual identity?
Yeah, I s’pose I do really. Well I’ve got a very firm sexual identity because I know what I am, but then I’m comfortable with every other sexuality because of that.

You enjoy dressing up.
I enjoy dressing up. I hate spending all my money on clothes. I could fit all my clothes in the world into a suit case.

Mira Nair said you can switch on this George Osborne vanity and arrogance in the blink of an eye. What are you playing with when you do that?
The idea of narcissism. I used to be a hell of a lot vainer when I was younger. I’d go to dinner and spend 40 minutes in the bathroom just adoring myself. No word of a lie. Now I’ve gone the other way. I have a shower put some gunk in my hair and walk out. It’s not really up to me to have a perspective on how I look and whether I’m handsome or not. It’s up to other people. Sometimes I feel good about myself. Others times I feel rank.

So what’s it like watching yourself on film?
Shite! I much prefer watching Johnny Depp. He’s so much more fascinating.

Do you feel quite settled in yourself?
I have my days. I have other days when I’m an absolute gibbering mess. It comes and it goes, it really does. I don’t think anybody can say that they’re totally settled and sorted. Unless you’re sixty years old and you’ve bought the T-shirt. I just turned 27 in July, I can’t say I’m settled. But I have an idea of what I want.

Special thanks to Vanessa for transcribing this article.

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