A Two Minute Date with Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Most Popular

If you ever have the pleasure of talking with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, prepare yourself for some heavy truths. Consider: "I believe people have been getting blow jobs for hundreds of years," he says matter-of-factly. "You should see The Libertine. There's everything in that. You know, dildos, blow jobs. Believe me, sex is as old as the hills."

To be fair, Rhys Meyers is not waxing willy-nilly on medieval bump 'n' grind; rather, he's referring to a particularly hot and heavy, royal-on-royal scene in his upcoming series The Tudors, which begins airing on Showtime this month. While Rhys Meyers's résumé boasts a list of larger-than-life personalities, this might be the biggie: With undisguised relish, he plays the wife-beheading, Pope-baiting, turkey-leg-gnawing tyrant King Henry VIII. Which brings us to Rhys Meyers-ism number two: He's very particular about the parts he chooses. "I was pretty hesitant to accept the role because I don't look like Henry VIII," says the slight actor. "I said, 'Listen, guys. If you want me to put on 60 pounds and dye my hair red and wear a ginger beard, I'm not your guy.'" Luckily, that's not what the producers had in mind. Cue Rhys Meyers: "The reality of it is, they wanted to make Henry a bit more appealing. If you want something to sell properly, then you have to make it a little more attractive."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

He should know. The London-based Irish actor, 29, has used his sinewy, Calvin Klein-model good looks well, whether playing an assassin in Michael Collins, a spandexed glam rocker in Velvet Goldmine, or a vicious bushwhacker in Ang Lee's Civil War epic, Ride with the Devil. He also scooped up a Golden Globe for his 2005 portrayal of the original pelvis-swiveler in the miniseries Elvis.

To his credit, Rhys Meyers can also play wholesome, which he did in Bend It Like Beckham, as Keira Knightley's soccer coach. "I thought it was going to be terrible!" he says. "For months and months and months, I refused to tell anybody that I'd been in a film called Bend It Like Beckham. Even in the beginning I was like, 'I don't want to do this.' But I spoke to my brother and he said, 'Do the film. Everybody's going to love this.' It's one of those girly, guilty-pleasure movies. It's on that shelf with Dirty Dancing, Footloose, and Beaches."

Most Popular

That said, the actor, who currently has a nonceleb girlfriend in London, does seem more at home on the dark side, particularly as a social climber who gets away with murder in Woody Allen's Match Point. "I think everybody's got a malicious side," he says. "Nobody's perfect. And if you think they are, you're sadly mistaken."

Of course, you can't blame him for trying to achieve perfection while at work. Prerequisite number one: a really good imagination. "As an actor, I'm an interpretive artist. I go through several different realities in a week," Rhys Meyers says. "I've been in many historical circumstances. I know what it's like to charge with the Confederate Army. I know what it's like to fight at the Battle of Gaugamela in Alexander the Great's army. I know what it's like to die in the Battle of Waterloo. And I know what it's like to be King of England in the 16th century." Really?

"Oh, yeah," Rhys Meyers says. "It's just another fantasy fascination I could have in my head. Could I imagine myself as king? Of course I could."

More from Marie Claire:
Celebrity
Share
The 'Stranger Things' Creators Finally Explained How There Will Be #JusticeforBarb in Season 2
Celebrity
Share
Did Charlize Theron Just Hint That She'd Like a Role in the 'Wonder Woman' Sequel?
Celebrity
Share
Brie Larson's Full Captain Marvel Costume Has *Finally* Been Revealed
Selena Gomez birthday Instagram
Celebrity
Share
Selena Gomez Had the Most Instragrammable 25th Birthday Party
Jenna Dewan Tatum Sam Heughan dancing Outlander
Celebrity
Share
Jenna Dewan Tatum Just Danced With 'Outlander's Sam Heughan at Comic-Con
Sophie Turner's Wore a Denim Jacket
Music
Share
Sophie Turner Just Wore DNCE Merch While Traveling With Joe Jonas
Celebrity
Share
'Stranger Things' Fans Can Visit a "Justice for Barb" Shrine at Comic-Con
Celebrity
Share
Sophie Turner Revealed the One 'GOT' Character She'd Bring Back from the Dead — And It's the Last Person You'd Expect
Celebrity
Share
Kim Kardashian *Completely* Exposed Her Nipples in Her Most Shocking Outfit Yet
'Game of Throne's Comic-Con Panel 2017 Alfie Allen Puppy
Celebrity
Share
Alfie Allen's Puppy Was the Real Star of the 'Game of Thrones' Panel at Comic-Con