Irons' good Impression


“Basically you’re looking to pay the bills, but you’re also looking to find interesting characters to play. I’ve been gravitating toward new plays that I find interesting to see whether they work,” he says.

“After this I shall be filming in the autumn. I’ll always keep those balls rolling. I started off in the theater, although I spent 20 years in the middle of my career hardly doing anything at all. But new plays always up the stakes for an actor.”

Director Jack O’Brien, who has won three Tony Awards since 2000 for "Hairspray," "Henry IV" and "The Coast of Utopia" (starring Brian F. O’Byrne) first came to prominence in San Diego where he worked as artistic director at the Old Globe Theatre.

“My own family has Kilgannons on one side and O’Brien’s on the other,” says O’Brien. “My father was born in Jackson, Michigan and I grew up there.

“But I recently uncovered my own Cork connections. I’m guided by Edna O’Brien, the Queen of Ireland. God knows I’m Irish, though –- I don’t shut my mouth. I like to have fun and I’m terribly funny in the way that the Irish are funny, and I can’t really stop it or help it or apologize for it.”

Working with Irons on "Impressionism," which the critics roundly slated, shows both the challenges and shortcomings of untested new work. But O’Brien is philosophical and delighted he had the opportunity to work with Irons.

“He’s another crazy Irishman. I knew Sinead first and so he was disposed to like me. But he’s thorny, he’s no pushover,” O’Brien says.

“He’s a very wise and very smart guy who does not suffer fools lightly. The smart thing I did was invite him up to my place for the weekend, and I cooked the food and set up the liquor and we just screamed with laughter.”

Another testament to O’Brien’s Irish pride stems from a discovery he made late in his career.

“I’ve never been able to make Irish plays work in San Diego. I began to wonder, what is it with Southern California and the Irish? And I left immediately thereafter.”

"Impressionism" is now playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street, New York, N.Y. For tickets call 212-947-8844.