Actors have three advantages over almost everybody. Firstly, they have no axe to grind; they are not in anyone’s pay; they have no job to hold down; they have no political position to hold up; they are free wheelers. Secondly, they travel a great deal, so they see different societies. They see how they work and how they don’t work. They can compare and contrast all the time. Thirdly, they play different people, so they know what it feels like to be different people. They recognise people very clearly and they understand that we have a very basic common humanity. So that would seem to me to be three reasons on why, as an actor, you should say what you feel.
It’s easy to snipe at people who are emotional. And sometimes actors are a bit too emotional about things.
People don’t always have to agree with you, they don’t have to listen.
An actor can, in a controlled situation because he has a script, enact things that we are frightened of or that we fear or that we don’t like and see where it takes us.
It’s pretty easy to be charismatic when you have make-up people and lighting people trying to make you look your best and directors only using the best takes.
Bad guys are outside my comprehension and therefore I want to go there. It’s like where do I want to go on holiday? Do I want to go to the next old town that I know well? Or do I want to go somewhere I have never been? I want to go somewhere that is completely different, which is why I’m drawn to characters who live outside my experience. It’s characters that live on the edge that I’m interested in.
I have a diary in which I keep a few little quotes to remind me of my roots. In my diary it says, “To live outside the law, you must be an honourable man.” My instinct is to live outside the law,
I don’t like laws. But you have to, therefore, live by your own rules and your own code of honour, which I think is not to do other people down, basically.
My first whisky came in a sort of Whisky Mac. My parents were quite enlightened. They let me join them in a half a glass of sherry when I was young, on a Sunday, when they had a drink before lunch, and then I think probably we went on to a Whisky Mac, which is still one of my favourite drinks.
I take a flask of Whisky Mac with me if I go hunting. It emboldens you and warms your spirit, in a way that neat whisky maybe wouldn’t. You need a bit of Dutch courage. But you don’t need madness.
There is an art to enjoying things and that is to avoid taking them for granted. And that is one of the great things about weather in Ireland. I love the gloriousness of waking up in the morning and finding that it’s a wonderful day. It’s a rare pleasure.
Luxury means having something that I can’t have all the time and I believe that the way to do that is to not get used to it.
So I suppose for me luxury is contrast. I mean drinking; you know I drink Whisky now and again. This morning I had a very good Whisky and I thought, Well, that’s nice. If I drank it all the time it would no longer be a luxury to me. I mean, other people would still look at me and go, Oh that’s pretty luxurious to have that in the morning.
I’m incredibly fortunate and maybe that’s because I recognised what I wanted from life early on and went for it. And I think what I wanted from life was a value and so I found what is the value. I think the mistake is where people chase things that are not valuable, like fame, wealth, winning. Although winning can be quite interesting.
All fame means is that more people know you than you know them. The only value fame has is that it reminds people to maybe ask you to work for them.
There is a great desire to allow some people to get very rich. We have to address this huge gap between the rich and the poor. You find it here in Dubai; these hugely rich people come and stay in these places built by people on a subsistence wage who send money back to their families and their countries to survive. We have to address the global tax situation purely to keep societies together. We have to find a middle way.
I don’t like new things and I don’t like cities. I’m a country bumpkin. That said, I’m amazed by the scale and by the vision of this place and obviously someone knows something that I don’t.
Human nature leads us to veer towards the easy option. I think we will either default or we will inflate our way through all these national debts. But whatever it is, I wish we would look more on our way of life and say, “Does this have a real future?” Because I don’t think so. But people are terrified of doing this.
The obvious outcome of the direction where we are going is totalitarianism. I don’t want to live in a totalitarian world.
I would like to live in a world where I can be myself and do my own thing and be left alone.
I am still very optimistic because humans have a tenacious instinct for survival — though things will probably get a lot worse before they get better. I think we are probably going to have a global spreading of disease. as we are overusing antibiotics and we are travelling all the time.
Russell Brand? I think he’s a genius. He has this child-like quality. Russell is like the jester, the king’s jester, who sits beside him and tells him jokes and looks ridiculous with bells on his head. But actually, that’s where the truth is.
You have to choose the number on the dartboard you’re aiming for. Make sure it’s the right one and then get it.
The desert should be covered with solar panels.
Jeremy Irons was a guest of honour at the Chivas Legends dinner in Dubai in 2013.