From king to spy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has fun
By Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic, February 3, 2010
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, a gentle-seeming, thoughtful Irish fellow, is not who comes to mind when you think of action heroes.
Which is precisely why he’s in “From Paris With Love,” playing James Reece, a desk jockey itching to get into the spy game, something with which loose-cannon agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) is more than willing to assist him.
Meyers, who also plays a young Henry VIII in Showtime’s series “The Tudors,” spoke recently about playing with guns (fake ones), working with Travolta and selling King Henry to a young audience.
Question: You get to shoot guns and blow things up. Is that fun?
Answer: It’s grown-up fun, you know? And it’s a lot of hard work to make it look that fun. That’s the kind of movie it was. Even though you’ve got a movie that touches on a subject like a girl dying of a cocaine overdose, and terrorism, it only serves to fuel the action. In that sense, it was (fun). There was no pressure to do anything but have a good time. You have to go along with the ride. You have to kind of enjoy Wax’s character and, at the same time, retain your naivete concerning Reece’s character. It’s fun, it’s exciting to watch, but at the same time, you kind of hope that it’ll all work out for the young guy. You feel he needs encouragement. He learns to be cooler as he goes along.
Q: You’re much smaller than Travolta, and that seems to play into the story.
A: Look, I’m 5-10 and I weigh, what, 155 pounds. John’s like 6-1, and he’s a bulkier guy. He’s got big shoulders. That did play into it. And it was interesting because it did show the youth of the guy. He’s a young buck. I don’t think John wanted to come in and play a young buck. . . . He’s a guy coming from a different place. He kills when he has to, and he has to.
Q: You always hear good things about Travolta from his co-stars. Was that your experience?
A: John is one of the most gushable actors out there. It’s just really easy because he is that nice a guy. He told me a funny story that he did a movie with Madeleine Stowe, and she was like, “There’s no way he’s going to keep up this Mr. Nice Guy act the whole 12 weeks of shooting.” When it came to the end of the 12 weeks, she said, “You know, I thought the whole thing was (expletive), but actually, he’s just that nice a guy.” And he is. He doesn’t have to try.
Q: Are you surprised by “The Tudors’ ” success?
A: Yeah… I only expected it to go one season. I thought it had that much legs. It was an extraordinary sort of novelty, that you could have Henry as a young king, because you have to sell him to a 21st-century audience. You have to sell him to an audience that was into “Lost” and “Prison Break” and “Gossip Girl” and all that. You’re trying to sell them period (drama). So you have to go about it in a different way. Then it became successful, and now we’ve got all four seasons. And the last five episodes I think I’m most proud of… I really didn’t let anybody else get involved. I knew what I wanted to do and I went with it. And it’ll either be good or not, but the last five episodes are pretty much on me.