Jonathan Rhys Meyers
By George Epaminondas
InStyle, June 2006
He gives new meaning to the phrase “sharply dressed gentleman.” On a break from filming in N.Y.C., Jonathan Rhys Meyers wears slim Diesel jeans, work boots and an oversize gray hoodie printed with pink razor blades. Not everyone could get away with such a nouveau punk look, but then very few can go from starring in Elvis on TV (and winning a Golden Globe) to playing a rakish social climber in Match Pint or a secret in Mission: Impossible III. “The trick,” says the 28-year-old Irish actor, “is to show you can change.”
When you appeared in the film Michael Collins in 1996, director Neil Jordan said you reminded him of a young Tom Cruise. So how was working with the actor on Mission: Impossible III? The comparison was more about the brashness with which I came into the meeting with Neil Jordan than what I looked like. Tom’s got a lot of confidence, drive and focus, and so did I when I was 19. Working with him is an education for any young actor.
Raised by a single mom, expelled from school, running the streets — sounds like you had a tough childhood growing up in County Cork, Ireland. All adolescences are tough. Everything is new; you’re confronted with things for the first time. We didn’t have any money, but there’s great community in poverty. I didn’t have a good childhood, but I’m enjoying my adulthood. And the experience has made me who I am today.
You straddle both sides of the pond for work, but where do you live? I live in London. I’m buying a place in Dublin. And I have an apartment in southern Morocco. I was there eight years ago and saw this nice place right by the ocean. It’s in a little fishing village called Taghazout, fours hours from Marrakech. I speak a little Arabic. I can go to the souk, but mostly they speak French, and my French is dreadful.
Do you scoot around in a djellaba? No djellaba. I wear combat trousers and combat boots. I don’t go native. I haven’t been to Taghazout for three years, but I love it when I’m there. I could have bought a house in Tuscany, but kudos to Morocco — as an actor, I can go there and nobody cares.
In Match Point your character trades up from tennis whites to Savile Row suits. Do you own any? I have one, but I’m really into John Galliano. He made my suits for the Golden Globes, the Emmys and the Match Point premiere. I’ve never met him, but every so often I get a package of the most beautiful clothes, and they all fit perfectly. He sends me fantastic hats, very detailed. I’m pretty modest [about asking], but I’m very grateful.
What other labels do you like? Valentino makes a great suit. I like Vivienne Westwood. Ozwald Boateng is probably one of the finest bespoke tailors in the world. I like his sense of style; it’s what men should look like — and so few do. One of my best friends, Anna Sui, is an incredible designer. We met at a screening of Velvet Goldmine when I was 20; she loved the movie, and we became mates.
Your sex scenes with Scarlett Johansson in Match Point were a bit carnal for a Woody Allen movie. Well, they weren’t carnal to shoot. They were really awkward but looked beautiful. We didn’t do very much, but maybe that is what made it sexy. And we’ve both got big lips! Scarlett’s a great actress, very easy and charming. We gorged on each other’s company during the publicity for the movie.
Recently you told a British newspaper, “There’s only room for one actress in my life, and I’m it.” Care to elaborate? I’ve dated actresses, and there’s only room for one [thespian] in a relationship. My girlfriend [British heiress Reena Hammer] is an academic; she’s studying ancient Latin literature and Persian antiquities, and she’s stunningly beautiful as well. We live in Camden, and people don’t bother us there. We are not a very Hollywood couple.
What’s your favorite gift to buy her? She has a fabulous shoe collection. And I like buying shoes for her — Christian Louboutin, Sergio Rossi, Versace. But there’s an old adage that you should never buy shoes for the person you’re in love with because they will walk out of your life.