The veteran actors run of flawed gentlemen continues with his roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and High-Rise. He explains his trouble with democracy and why his statue of buddha is so important
By his own admission, Jeremy Irons is good at getting into trouble. Last week, he was on breakfast radio twice. On Chris Evanss show, he swore at 9.10am; on Today, he annoyed some by saying he would refuse a knighthood, others with his explanation (I became an actor to be a rogue and a vagabond).
His stickiest slip was three years ago, when he cautioned that gay marriage could lead fathers to marry their sons to avoid inheritance tax (Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding). There was uproar, followed by a faintly baffled clarification. Later, Ironss son Max he has two with wife Sinad Cusack said his father was just working through an argument out loud and got lost in the loopholes.
To meet Irons is to appreciate what he might have meant. Here is a smart man singularly unsuited for the social media age and egged on by its outrage. He is compassionate, but also unstudied, slightly naive, contrarian, contradictory and compulsive. Intentionally so. If he opens his mouth, its to spitball. He would like us all to do the same.
I think all of society should be a thinktank where you throw ideas about. I had hoped the internet would help. Actually, what it has done is make everybody go schtum. Theyre attacked for saying anything. So they say nothing.
Irons sighs at the memory of gay-marriage-gate. Secret homophobia seems unlikely (big break: Brideshead; best man: Christopher Biggins, who also came on the honeymoon; in 1991, Irons was the first celeb to wear an Aids ribbon to an awards ceremony). Its more likely he was interested in the tax aspect. I have developed a life which seems to need a relatively high income, he says. It includes six houses and a 15th-century castle in Cork, for which Irons took two years off to renovate; he painted the external walls peach.
As for marriage? Hes all for it all for anything that helps lead us from temptation. Our society is based on a Christian structure, he says. If you take those religious tenets away, then anything goes and it will become terrible and you usually get into trouble.