That awareness helped the British actor with his gritty role
in new film "The Riot Club," out now in UK theaters. The film
explores the violent excesses of an elite university society,
inspired in part by Oxford University's Bullingdon Club.
Irons, 28, a relative newcomer to film and television, is the
son of Academy award-winning English actor Jeremy Irons, and
Irish actress Sinead Cusack.
The cast got along well, but unlike his easy-going character,
Irons confessed to being "terrified" at first.
"I thought, what if we're all competitive and trying to out-do
each other?" Irons told Reuters.
"I've never been good at all-male banter. I sort of clam up and
go spend a lot of time going to the bathroom, standing outside
smoking cigarettes, anything to get away from it."
While attending Toronto International Film Festival for "The
Riot Club" premiere, Irons spoke with Reuters about Britain's
class struggles and working on the film.
Q: What drew you to "The Riot Club"?
A: When I first read the script I actually didn't like it,
because I just found it so unpleasant. And I know a couple of
people like that and I find them unpleasant.
Q: Why did you ask to play the role of Miles?
A: I understood his problem, which was being seduced by being
invited to the top table and everything that would mean for the
trajectory of the rest of his life. It was only upon being
inside it that you realized it wasn't fulfilling. That in fact,
it's quite dark and corrupt.
Q: What is it about class and privilege that makes it
such an enduring theme in cinema?
A: The divide we have in society seems to be getting wider and
wider ... I think people need to start thinking about that.
Even though this is a fictitious take ... the fact that our
Prime Minister (David Cameron), our Mayor of London (Boris
Johnson), and our Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne)
were all in this club ... I want to know about that. I do. They
weren't young, they were at a fairly discerning age at 22, 23.
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(The film is) a non-judgmental look into a room that exists. Now, if
they don't like what is inside that room, then they shouldn't be
doing it. We're just opening the door, as film often does, as
literature often does, as art often does.
Q: Why is the film's ending important?
A: I think it's incredibly important to show how it really
unfortunately is. We had the riots in London ... I think they have
cause for grievance. Opportunities are few and far between. Yet,
when they smash a shop window, they get three years in prison, to be
made an example of.
If what we hear is true about the Bullingdon Club and what they get
up to, they're doing the same thing, at a more discerning age, after
being given every advantage known to man, but yet, they can just pay
Q: What was it like working with director Lone Scherfig?
A: She's amazing - to have a woman like her on set. She has
such a keen understanding of the class system, the class struggle.
But also, she was so capable of controlling 10 energetic actors ...
It could've been a nightmare.
Q: You did a lot of theater work before film. Would you go
back to the stage?
A: I want to do a play every year. I it's very important. It's how I
trained ... (Theater is) terrifying; it's thrilling. It's the most
exciting thing that you can do. It's live and there's no room for
error. You have to do it. You can't turn up to set two hours late.
No retakes. Just do it, so it keeps you on your toes.
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Shumaker)
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