Irons' good Impression
Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons and Tony award winning director Jack O’Brien talk to IrishCentral about their Irish backgrounds and working together on Broadway in the new play "Impressionism"
Oscar winner Jeremy Irons’ voice, which is famously rich and resonant, is known to every child in America who’s grown up in the past 15 years as the shake-in-your-shoes voice of Scar, in Disney’s "The Lion King"
But Irons, 60, is more famous for his grown up portraits in classic series like "Brideshead Revisited" and his unforgettable Oscar winning turn in "Reversal of Fortune," where he portrayed Claus Von Bulow, the man eventually acquitted of his society heiress wife’s murder. (Sunny von Bulow lived almost 28 years in a persistent vegetative state until her death in a New York nursing home on December 6, 2008).
These days, between the acting stints that he says in recent years had lost a lot of their appeal, Irons has worked on the restoration of Kilcoe Castle, his 15th century castle in Cork, on which he has reportedly spent a million pounds bringing up to shape. If that wasn’t enough he then decided to paint the entire building an eye-catching pale pink, which has made it a must see curiosity on the local tourist trail.
“I’ve never told anybody how it cost to restore but it was a fair amount. That was a great project,” Irons told IrishCentral.com.
“I got to a stage where I was getting a little bored with the work I was doing in movies. I wanted something that scared the pants off me basically and I looked at the castle which I knew to be a ruin. I thought someone should really do it up.”
The castle, which was built in 1450 by the Irish McCarthy clan, was sacked by the British Army in 1603, so there was a certain irony in an Englishman and his Irish wife taking it upon themselves to restore a colonial spoil to its former glory. The Celtic Tiger economy suggested to Irons that someone would probably get there before him, so he decided to start the project before someone else did.
“I restored both the interior and the exterior. The structure itself was still basically sound, but the top had been knocked off and all the carved stone windows had either been knocked out or ground down by the wind,” he says.
“All the woodwork was gone –- the way castles are built means that alternate floors are wood. We had a basic skeleton to go on and we worked from the outside, put a lid on it, plumbed it for water, heating and electricity and made it good. It was a big job,” he says laughing.
As for the irony of doing it in the first place he says, “It seemed right.”
Irons is one half Irish, which he can now say with complete conviction, having taken the trouble to research his ancestors. To his great surprise, it turned out that many of them had lived and died very near the castle itself.
“My ancestors came to the north in the linen industry and then eventually came south to Innishannon in Co. Cork, near to where my castle is situated. One of them married a Cork girl. That was the main connection,” he says.
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