“I remember kissing Madonna”: Jeremy Irons On His Oscar Winning Moment
As part of Oscar.com’s “Oscar Dailies” series I’ve been interviewing film experts, previous nominees and winners on their Oscar moments and movie memories.
Academy Award Winner Jeremy Irons took a break from shooting Henry IV in the UK to chat with me about what makes a great director and what was going through his mind when he won Best Leading Actor in 1991 for “Reversal of Fortune”:
“Well, the worrying thing about it is, you know, you get a lot of sort of static noise in your head when your category comes up and my nightmare was to think I’d heard my name and to stand up and discover I hadn’t, that it was my name saying that I’d been nominated or something, not that I’d won. What I seem to remember doing is thinking, well if everybody is looking and me and smiling, then that must mean that I’m the one who has won. Umm, and I think I waited for that moment. Because there’s nothing more embarrassing than standing up if you haven’t, you know? And that’s to say your senses are so on edge that you could mishear. And I won! I kissed everybody I seem to remember. I remember kissing Madonna, I don’t know Madonna. Well, I do now but I didn’t then. She was sitting next to Michael Jackson, I very nearly kissed Michael Jackson. I was actually up for kissing everybody.”
“I value encouragement. I’ve always thought of a director as like a really good chef. That he gathers his ingredients, his crew, his cameraman, his actors, whatever…He has a jolly good recipe, which is the script, which he believes in…and he puts all the ingredients together and he stands back and he sort of watches and does a bit of chopping up and puts it all in and lets it simmer and watches it. And every now and again he tastes it and maybe adds a bit of salt, and just sort of nudges it in a certain direction, and lets it happen. And if he set it up right, with the right ingredients, the right actors, the right crew, the right story, it should cook wonderfully. And he should have the talent and the taste to just change the flavors a little bit to get it working as he wants. And of course, it will probably turn out slightly different than he imagined it, because like a good wine, a good script, you never quite know where it is going to go, and how it’s going to be received, and what it’s going to come out as. So that’s my favorite sort of director, one that encourages and gently pushes you in the right direction, and casts you well so that you’re playing a role that you can actually bring something quite interesting to.”