Articles

Jonathan Rhys Meyers
By Andy Morris
GQ, October 2006

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Scarlett Johansson, Tom Cruise’s helicopter, a Golden Globe and now a GQ award: this streetwise star turn has had his hands full in 2006

“People see me on the red carpet and on the posters,” says the Lab Series Man Of The Year, “and they think it must be a charmed life. And I suppose it is.”

Sitting in a Camden bar on a Sunday morning, drinking Coke and chaining Marlboros, Jonathan Rhys Meyers appears – unsurprisingly – a picture of contentment. His is not quite a rags-to-riches story, but it’s not far off. There was a childhood spell in an orphanage and an expulsion from school before a casting director spotted him in a pool hall, aged 17 – but his adult years are proving strikingly successful.

The Dublin actor’s first significant screen appearance came a decade ago, when he was 19, as a boyish assassin in Michael Collins, opposite Liam Neeson. Two years later he was a Bowie-esque glam idol in Todd Haynes’ Seventies fantasia, Velvet Goldmine, and by 2002 he was playing Keira Knightley’s football coach in Bend It Like Beckham.

Then came a part in Alexander, Oliver Stone’s sand and sandals epic. He describes the making of the ill-starred film, starring Colin Farrell, as a, “very testosterone-y cock-show. I drank for about a year. I had great fun, but I’ve moved on. I’m a better actor without it.”

Now teetotal and planning a move to LA, Rhys Meyers surprised many last year by landing the part of Elvis in an American TV movie of the same name. ” I’m not a great one for research,” he states. “I’ve never met any of the Presleys, I just played the part.” He played it so well, it turns out, that in January he won the Golden Globe for Best Performance By An Actor In A Mini Series. A leading role in Woody Allen’s Match Point followed, opposite Scarlett Johansson.

Then, this summer, he was Tom Cruise’s chopper-flying crewman in Mission: Impossible III. “Blockbusters are great!” he says. “Nothing would please me more than a meaty role in a Ridley Scott epic.”

Currently filming an all-galloping, all-jousting biopic of Henry VIII, Rhys Meyers has one ambition left to fulfil: I’ve always wanted to play Flashman, the Victorian solider from the George McDonald Fraser books. But now I’ve said it in GQ someone else will probably do it!”

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