Over the course of the past few years, it’s fair to say British cinema has gathered some momentum on the worldwide stage with young actors making an impact in Hollywood.
One such actor making their presence known is Jeremy Irvine.
To date the young Brit has worked with massive names in the business such as Steven Spielberg and Robert Duvall, to name but a few. Now in his latest film, Beyond the Reach, he stars alongside Michael Douglas.
We caught up with Jeremy to talk about his latest film and if he’ll join the British invasion of Hollywood. Beyond the Reach is out on the 31st of July.
When you get a call about something that Michael Douglas is attached to and also producing, any actor is going to jump at that.
So his involvement but also I’d seen the directors last film [Jean-Baptiste Léonetti] called Carre Blanc, which I thought is one of the weirdest disturbing movies I’d seen in a long time. I thought he was a real visionary.
Then Michael invited me out to his place in New York, so went there one weekend and sat in his living room going over a few scenes together and stuff.
When Michael Douglas offers you a role you’d be crazy to say no…
That must have been pretty cool hanging out with Michael Douglas…
He’s awesome. He’s one of those people that if you didn’t know about him or his career then you wouldn’t know who he is. He’s incredible humble and down to earth. Anyone who has had a career as extraordinary as his is very passionate.
That passion is very infectious especially on set and being the producer and the actor he’s first in the morning to arrive and last to leave at night. It’s an infectious work ethic.
How was it for you to be filming in what looked like gruelling conditions in New Mexico?
It was rough but mostly because I was just wearing my pants. You hear of these places being 130 degrees during the day and then freezing at night, you think “yeah, sure, it’s not really like that”. But it was.
Scorching during the day and then at night we’d have snow or sleet sometimes.
Well, at least the film was able to save money on wardrobe for you…
Yeah exactly, with my five pair of boxer shorts or something like that [laughs].
It was intense. There were lots of snakes and things around especially when you’re filming at night in your bare feet with rattlesnakes all over the place. Snakes like heat so they’d be under the film lights where I had to be. We had to clear out a lot of rattlesnakes during filming.
Did you undergo any training for the role?
I had just lost a lot of weight before this film when I was doing The Railway Man. I was very skinny before we started but then had to have this physique of an outdoors guy who’s into his extreme sports and mountain climbing.
There was a lot of gym work at the start which was difficult when I was starting from nothing because I’d lost so much weight. I did a lot of rock climbing as well and these guys took me out to train me.
How did you keep things fun on set in the blistering heat?
Luckily Michael and I got on really well. It wasn’t a bundle of laughs on this shoot, to be honest. It was tough.
For me I had three and half hours of make-up standing still in the morning then two hours at night to get it all off. I had these big latex pieces they stick on you that would get so itchy, it was a little bit grim.
We understand that you take a method approach to your work. Is it anything like what Wesley Snipes did on Blade: Trinity?
I always laugh when I hear stories like that. I am not really sure what method means. The word method, especially when you hear it from actors who say they stay in character in period films.
What do they do when their agent calls them? Do they take out there phone, like, “what is this strange talking brick?”
You got to remember what you’re doing is a job and you’re not the only person on set. I think this is where the actors I’ve worked with get it right. If you’re doing something that is off-putting to them or makes it difficult for people to work with you then you are not doing your job.
Coming from theatre you learn about the teamwork side of things a little bit more.
When you went for this role how aware were you of the Robb White novel, Deathwatch, which the film is based on?
I wasn’t really. When I found I was going for it I educated myself. Michael Douglas bought the rights to the film years ago back when he was thinking about playing my role.
So it is a real passion project for him he’d be meaning to do for a long time.
Any memorable moments during filming?
I had to do my first ever sex scene on this. I remember knocking on Michael’s trailer and thinking if there’s anyone in the world who’d know about sex scenes it is Michael Douglas.
So what was it like for you to shoot your first scene of that kind…?
It’s like choreographing a dance or a fight. It’s very clinical, it’s not very sexual. As long as you’ve got an actress that you can have a laugh about it with then its fine.
How is it for you to do theatre work and then go back to films?
I miss theatre dreadfully and wish I did more in the past few years. Looking over the next couple of years I want to do more. They are two very different beasts and not sure which I prefer necessarily.
I think in a lot of ways film is often a lot harder than theatre, like when you have to shoot out of sequence. There are no rehearsals and a lot of people don’t realise when you are watching an actor on screen it’s probably the first time they’ve ever done that with the other actor.
You’ve adopted an American accent in a few of your films. Is that something that comes easily to you?
No, not at all.
You really have to work hard at it. Doing an accent that is very different to your own, it’s difficult to tell and train your ear to hear when you’re getting it wrong. Eventually when you’re so bored of it and the thought of doing more makes you sick, that’s when you’ve probably done enough.
I am not filming anything in America at the moment but spent time with my dialect coach recently to keep it up.
Are there any accents you just can’t get?
I remember once doing an audition in Welsh and the casting director stopping me and saying, “Jeremy, that was shit”. [Laughs] Think we’ll leave that one.
So far in your career you’ve worked with a lot of big names but who have you been most star-struck by?
It’s always the people you admired the most as a kid. Growing up, for me, it was movies like The English Patient and The Constant Gardner with Ralph Fiennes. Getting to work with him was a really cool moment for me.
He was very kind to me. I remember having a couple of days where things just weren’t working for me. I was really struggling and tired. I was flying back to America at the weekend to do press stuff for War Horse whilst shooting a movie in the UK.
It was really cool to improvise with him before scenes and stuff. It was a real pinch yourself moment.
We read you turned down starring roles in both The Hunger Games and Divergent. Is there any truth to that?
Ha! I’ve never spoken about roles I’ve never got. There’s just a lot of internet rumour about it. There have been roles, which I won’t name, where it would have been not for the love of the project had I taken the part.
For me I want to get a good basis of work that I’ve chosen because I love the script and the role. I want to try different things.
Maybe further down the line I’ll do some movies for the big studios.
So what are your thoughts on doing something with Marvel or DC to continue the British assault on Hollywood?
I love those movies. Any actor would jump at the chance and they look like so much fun.
I just watched Ant Man the other day and that was such a laugh. You can’t beat the Edgar Wright humour in that. Comedy is something I am looking at right now, a lot of the stuff I’ve done recently has been a bit heavy.
Maybe doing something a little lighter would be good.
Beyond the Reach is in cinemas and on demand on 31st July