for if the priest turned out to be a cardboard cutout.‘

As it was. he feels both philosophical arguments came out powerfully. ‘My feeling is that both ofthem almost succeed. There IS a moment in the film when Mendoza is about to blow up the bridge and he doesn‘t quite manage it because he stops to rescue a child. then there is a moment later when the soldiers look across to the mission and almost don‘t fire . . . Part of me feels that if you counter inhumanity with humanity. then even if the inhumanity conquers. it will have been changed in some way.‘

lrons clearly takes his work very seriously so it is a surprise to hear that acting was not a first calling for him. Unsmilingly he relates. ‘I wanted to be an engine driver. then a vetenary surgeon.‘ Thwarted by his lack of aptitude in sciences at school. he thought about acting. mainly through reading biographies of actors. ‘I liked the feel ofthe life. I have an extrovert streak and an introverted streak. Both are useful.‘

After a spell as a social worker at a youth club in Camberwell where he supplemented his income as ‘just another busker‘ in Leicester Square. lrons was eventually accepted at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He claims not to have done very well. but he went on to join the Bristol Old Vic company and discovered that after all. he really did enjoy the life ‘working closely with a group of people on a project. and the lovely contrasts as one piece leads on to something completely different.‘

He was also discovering that acting. unlike social work. was a profession where ‘you give a lot. but you get a lot back.‘ And it is that which makes the pressure he‘s under these days. worthwhile. But it is pressure. ‘Someone did an experiment once where they found that the adrenalin produced on a first night was almost exactly the same as the adrenalin produced by driving a car at 40 miles per hour into a brick

Jeremy Irons as he appears in The Winter‘s Tale.

wall.‘ Every night is not a first night. but with new audiences to be satisfied each time. he finds his work straining mentally and physically. ‘You can‘t coast through it.‘

Because of this. lrons has sought some tranquility in his domestic life. His wife. fellow RSC‘ actress. Sinead Cusack was able to travel with him to South America for the filming of The Mission together with his child Sam. as she was then pregnant with his second son. Every time a part is offered to either partner. it requires a ‘constant equation‘ as to whether it is worth the separation. ‘As I get older. I get more of a family man and enjoy being away from them less and less.‘ His family. he says. means a great deal more to him than his career. ‘In order to come to that conclusion. you have to try doing without them. When my first son was born. lworked away on and off for about five years. . .‘ It was a period that prompted widespread newspaper rumours that the pair were going through difficulties with their marriage.

Now however. the family having moved out of London to take up a house on the river about two miles from the theatre. lrons seems to have found a welcome serenity. ‘l have a Victorian sailing punt and we sometimes pole down to Stratford and back.‘ It sounds idyllic— ‘lt is.‘ But he says they may seek further seclusion with a house in the country somewhere between Oxford and London.

For a minute it is as if the leading player. still only in his late thirties. is describing a sunny retirement after a full and fulfilling career. But of course there are many more starring roles to come. and even as l glance at my watch. Irons is visibly counting the hours of relaxation before his next set ofperformances. ‘Are we done'.". he says eagerly. and looking me in the eye at last. he gives me his first big smile of the afternoon.

RSC are visiting .N’eweuslle with The Winter's Tale. Richard [land The Rover. Various per/brmuneesfrom 9 Feb—I4 March. ('(mluet Theatre Royal . Newcastle for details, 0912618815.



Win tree tickets to see Jeremy Irons in The Winter’s Tale with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Newcastle. All you have to do is answer the following questions and return the

form. The first correct answer drawn on Sat 28 Feb will win a pair of tickets to a Saturday matinee during March (plus free rail journey from Glasgow or Edinburgh).

1) What was the name of the character played by Jeremy Irons in the t.v. series Bridehead Revisited?

2)Who wrote the original book from which the series Brideshead Revisited was adapted?



Daytime Tel. no.

Please return to The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE.

The List () ~ 1‘) February 7