Man Candy Monday: Jeremy Irons


The dapper and prolific Jeremy Irons has a birthday coming up tomorrow, September 19, which seems a good time to give a rundown of his historical costume movie and TV hits. There are plenty to choose from! Like many British actors of his era, he started in theater and transitioned to the many BBC costume dramas of the 1970s and 1980s (that were also broadcast on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater in America). Jeremy Irons also had starring and supporting roles in a vast number of historical costume movies. Here are the biggies!



Frank Tregear in The Pallisers (1974)

Jeremy Irons, The Pallisers (1974)

A small role in a huge series based on Anthony Trollope novels.


Franz Liszt in Notorious Woman (1974)

Jeremy Irons, Notorious Woman (1974)

Playing the famous composer in a TV movie about George Sand.


Charles Henry Smithson / Mike in The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1982)

Jeremy Irons, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Flashing back from modern day to the Victorian era.

Jeremy Irons, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Where Irons’ character breaks off an engagement.

Jeremy Irons, The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)

Due to an affair with Meryl Streep‘s character.


Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited (1981)

Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited (1981)

With Anthony Andrews in the languorous adaption of the Evelyn Waugh novel.

Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited (1981)

And don’t forget Aloysius!

Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited (1981)
Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited (1981)

I adore this series. The 2008 remake is sacrilege.

Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited (1981) Jeremy Irons, Brideshead Revisited (1981)


Charles Swann in Swann in Love (1984)

Jeremy Irons, Swann in Love (1984)


Jeremy Irons, Swann in Love (1984)

I haven’t seen this series yet, but I expect some good romance.


Father Gabriel in The Mission (1986)

Jeremy Irons, The Mission (1986)

He can get rugged too.


Kafka in Kafka (1991)

Jeremy Irons, Kafka (1991)

Fun fact: My husband and I saw this movie on one of our first dates.


Humbert Humbert in Lolita (1997)

Jeremy Irons, Lolita (1997)

Irons took a risk on this movie and did an amazing job with complex material.


Aramis in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Jeremy Irons, The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)

Ugh, and then this. A bunch of excellent actors (aside from Leo), dressed up in great costumes, all completely wasted in a very dumb movie.


F. Scott Fitzgerald in Fitzgerald aka Last Call (2002)

Fitzgerald aka Last Call (2002)

A TV movie that was nominated for a couple Emmys (but I’d never heard of it).


Antonio in The Merchant of Venice (2004)

Jeremy Irons, The Merchant of Venice (2004)

This is an underrated film adaptation with Al Pacino as Shylock. Jeremy Irons adds gravitas.


Tiberias in Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Jeremy Irons, Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

SCA friends have recommended this movie to Sarah and me, but we’re just meh about it. Sorry.


Pucci in Casanova (2005)

Jeremy Irons, Casanova (2005)

I like Jeremy Irons equally well as a villain, though I think he’s played more modern bad guys than historical ones.


Lord Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in Elizabeth I (2005)

Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I (2005)

As partner to Helen Mirren‘s Queen Elizabeth I, Irons is the best Dudley since Robert Hardy.

Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I (2005)


Alfred Stieglitz in Georgia O’Keeffe (2009)

Jeremy Irons, Georgia O'Keeffe (2009)

In this TV movie about the painter, Jeremy Irons plays her husband, the famous photographer.


Rodrigo Borgia in The Borgias (2011-13)

Jeremy Irons, The Borgias (2011-13)

This is one seriously hot pope!

Jeremy Irons, The Borgias (2011-13)


Jeremy Irons, The Borgias (2011-13)

He’ll play whatever games it takes.

Jeremy Irons, The Borgias (2011-13)


Jeremy Irons, The Borgias (2011-13)

But it’s all about family, right?


Henry IV in The Hollow Crown (2012)

Jeremy Irons, The Hollow Crown (2012)

More delicious Shakespeare.


Avery Brundage in Race (2016)

Jeremy Irons, Race (2016)

Playing an official at the 1936 Berlin Olympics where Jesse Owens won four gold medals.


Secretary of War in Their Finest (2017)

Jeremy Irons, Their Finest (2017)

A cameo in this World War II period film.



What’s your favorite of Jeremy Irons’ historical costume movie or TV roles?

13 Responses

  1. Saraquill

    Alas, when I think of Irons, movies like “Dungeons and Dragons” or “Eragon” come to mind. “Dead Ringers” is a close second in my head.

  2. Misty x

    That voice! That presence! & totally agree, Iron Mask is a waste of awesome talent x

  3. Peacoclaur

    No matter how many of these versions I see he will always be Uncle Scar from The Lion King. “Be pre-paaared…..”

  4. Kathleen Norvell

    I’m currently watching “The Borgias.” With all the young men in the series, Jeremy Irons in a long white dress is still the hottest guy on screen. I’ve been a fan since “The French Lieutenant’s Woman.” It doesn’t matter what the time period, he always wears it well.

  5. Susan Pola Staples

    Jeremy Irons period roles – for me – are divided into early, middle and late period.
    Of his early works I like him as Frank Tregear in Pallisers, of course his appearance opposite Aloysius in Brideshead (my favourite adaptation) as Charles Ryder, & Charles Henry Smithson/Mike in French Lieutenant’s Woman. Middle period is Fr Gabriel in the Mission and Swann in Swann in Love
    Late Period is Antonio in Merchant of Venice (whole cast was excellent), Leicester opposite Mirren’s Elizabeth & Pope Alexander VI

    • Janet Nickerson

      A friend said about Irons’ portrayal of Leicester: ‘At last – a Dudley with BALLS!’

      • Susan Pola Staples

        He’s my favourite next to Robert Hardy’s portrayal. I feel that Mr Irons role was more the consummate politician and someone who knew Elizabeth from her cradle days while Mr Hardy role was more the suitor and someone Elizabeth kept on his toes.
        Two different interpretations 30 or so years apart.

  6. Charity


    He’s the only reason I watched The Borgias at first… and then I started tuning in for the costumes alone.

  7. laania

    If you ever go to Westminster Cathedral, get the audio guide because it’s voiced by Jeremy Irons.

    Jeremy Irons, talking sexily in your ear in a church. Delicious.

  8. SarahV

    He has certainly aged very well, but he has always had a very mature, I dunno, sort of wise/chastened face. I thought he was peak Teh Hotness as Dudley. That role (and movie) made me actually ache for the real Elizabeth I, thinking how she was never ever really able to be with the man she loved and who was probably the best man for her,

    Also, we have Jeremy Irons ‘ to thank for the Astonishing Handsomeness that is his son, Max Irons. Yowza.