The Irish-born actor stars opposite Tom Cruise in the new flick
From an amazing performance in Woody Allen's Match Point, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is making the jump to action movies - in a major way. He stars opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III, the third installment of the secret agent series. I'd have to say this is the best of all three films!
The 28-year-old has been acting for 10 years and found this film to be an amazing experience. We spoke to him about his stunt work, working with Tom, and a couple of his future projects like August Rush.
Here's what else we talked about with the Irishman:
How would you describe your character?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: My role on the team is - Declan is a chameleon, he speaks different languages and he's got a lot of confidence, so he can lie to somebody without giving away any of his 17 pantomimes. That's essentially what the character is, but he's also a wheelman; he flies helicopters, he's into boats and cars; he's the general get-away guy.
What did you think of Tom doing the stunts?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yeah, but Tom has been trained by the best for 25 years, by one of the top ten stunt men in the world; he's really comfortable doing that. The first time I was around that, I thought, 'Wow, wow, he could really hurt himself,' but he didn't.
Was there a scene in particular that were amazed by?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: When he gets thrown through the battered car; you know the thing about Mission Impossible is only 5% is special effects. They did all the stuff we didn't do.
What was your first reaction to the scale of this movie?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: You know, the scale of the movie is enormous; you don't really know until you see the movie. When you're making it, you don't think, 'Oh my gosh, this is the hugest film,' It's just another film you're working on. It's a really intimate process making a film, regardless of how many millions of dollars you have to make the film; the process is still the same in its core. But when you see the movie, you realize you're in a big, big action movie.
Are you poised to do more of these?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yeah, it'd be nice; it'd be nice to do more.
What would you say was your favorite stunt or scene in the movie?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: You know, I really liked doing the scene with Tom when we're in Rome and we're screaming at each other in Italian, when we're arguing. We changed the dialogue a little so it'd be more palatable for a younger audience. But I said some things to Tom that people don't say to Tom, even in Italian; but it was good fun and it was our first dialogue scene together. It was kind of intense, but it really broke the ice between the two of us.
How many languages do you speak?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: I speak a little Italian, I speak a little French, English - that's it.
So you knew what you were saying in Italian?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yes, I used to live in Rome; I made a film called Titas with Anthony Hopkins several years ago.
Can you talk about your upcoming role as Henry VIII in Tudors?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Playing Henry VIII - the modern conception of him is he's this chubby, red-haired guy who eats lamb legs, and he's named Henry. No one ever painted Henry when he was alive, so nobody really knows what he looks like. And anyone who spent that much time hunting and bedding women, is not going to be this round looking, chubby guy. Our interpretation is an art of what we thought Henry was going to be like. But, I'm playing Henry from a very young age; he's a very athletic and physical guy, the ultimate shooter, alpha male. I see him as a very competitive and aggressive guy.
What was your training regiment like for this role?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: It's certainly quite demanding, so I had a lot of working out before; we had to go to the gym every day because even if we're not going to do any of these stunts, you have to look like you can at any moment. But I did have to learn how to fly a helicopter, and that was about it.
Did you have a chance to explore in the shooting locations? What was your favorite memory?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: It was nice to go back to Rome, because that's like a second home for me; I used to live in Rome. So that was nice for me, I have some friends there, and I was able to catch up with them. Shanghai, I had very little time in, but I managed to go to the circus with Tom and it was good fun. And LA, I know.
I noticed you're shooting another film with Keri Russell again?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yeah, we just completed the film called August Rush; it's a beautiful, beautiful love story with Keri and Robin Williams, and Terrence Howard.
You said you had to learn how to fly a helicopter?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yes, I did.
How well can you fly, and have you put it to use?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: No, I don't; I think my flying expertise is very limited. I'm not sure anyone would trust me to go up in a helicopter myself. But I learned the basics of it, and once you get the chopper off the ground, it's pretty simple from there on. The hardest part about flying a helicopter is getting over the fact that you're flying a helicopter and that you're up in the air; things look different from up there. But, I haven't been up flying since.
Are you doing any of the flying in the movie?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: A little, but very, very limited; I had a pilot with me. But those scenes where I fly through the windmills, there's absolutely no way they'd let an actor do that; it's too dangerous.
You have an upcoming horror film; is that a genre you were looking into getting into?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: I'm not doing an upcoming horror film.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Adina isn't a horror film, it's a ghost story, but it's not a horror film at all. I spoke to Nicolas Roeg about doing it, but it hasn't generated; it's on IMDB, but IMDB are very rarely right.
What kind of bonding were you able to do with the team before shooting?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yeah, it was easy to bond with everybody; Tom, myself, Maggie, and Ving Rhames spent the first day of shooting in a speed boat, so it was really easy to do that. You know, Tom Cruise is a really, really, easy guy to work with.
Are you speaking more American on purpose?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: No, it's just I'm in the United States, and if I speak in my deep Irish accent, I'm going to have to repeat myself.
Have you noticed more recognition recently with this film and Match Point?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yeah, there has been a change, it's a change. But for my own personal life, nothing's changed very much; I work as hard as I did before, I live a very low-key, simple life and I try and keep it that way. I like the recognition to come from the work and not going out and getting myself famous; it's just an off-shoot of the work you do.
Has working for 10 years prepared you for that in acting?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Yeah, my failures has helped me as much as my successes.
Did you have any trepidations working with J.J. Abrams?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: No, no trepidations what-so-ever; the moment I met J.J, I knew he wa going to take this movie and knock it out of the ballpark. There's not much of a difference shooting something for TV and shooting something for film; the difference is film is in a cinema and TV is in your home. JJ has had a lot of success in television, probably the most successful guy in television, so it was very easy to make that transition from TV to film, really natural for him.
What qualities do you look for in a director?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: It's all about the work; I'd work with a great director over - you know, I'm not the kind of actor who that doesn't go, 'I want to play this role.' It's more like, 'I want to work with this director,' regardless of what the role is because if it's a good director, you'll probably find a good role because it's a decent film. But a mediocre director will always make a mediocre movie.
What qualities make for good directors?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: I think it's being able to articulate what you want; it can cause problems with a lack of communication. I'm not an actor who requires much talking to a director, I don't want to sit down and discuss a scene for hours and hours; that would bore me. Hence, why I enjoyed working with Woody Allen; I never had a conversation longer than 10 minutes long with Woody - never, ever.
Was it hard to keep a secret when people would ask about this movie?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: For me, I felt bad for people asking the questions, cause you know their boss sent them out saying, 'Get me something on Mission Impossible.' And you ask the question, and it's just a polite, 'I'm not going to tell you.' Then, every so often, they'd go, 'Well, can't you just tell us a little bit?' I have to say, 'You know what guys, I'm under contract and I'm not going to tell you anything.' So you keep asking the questions and I'm just going to keep smiling. And it's hard, cause I don't want to seem rude, but it's part of my job just like it's part of their job to keep a secret.
Did you ever have that moment when you wanted to bust out?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: No.
Have you ever thought of moving from Ireland to the US?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers: I don't live in Ireland, I live in London with my girlfriend; and it's because of the globalization of our planet, it's not necessary to live in Los Angeles to be a successful and any country is just an airplane ride away. If there's a director who wants to meet me or if there's something I have to do, I can just hop on an airplane - the world's small now.
Mission: Impossible III also stars Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Billy Crudup, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Michelle Monaghan. It opens in theaters May 5th; it's rated PG-13.