By Jeffrey Epstein
In Out's June Hot Issue, we named Irish dreamboat Jonathan Rhys-Meyers the Hottest Straight Guy We Wish Was Gay. The Mission: Impossible III costar told us about his infamous Velvet Goldmine sex scene with Ewan McGregor and why he thinks playing Elvis (for which he won a Golden Globe) was his gayest role yet. Here are some exclusive outtakes from our chat with the cheeky lad.
So, you are our Hottest Straight Guy.
That's pretty bold. No one's ever accused me of being straight before. Nice one.
I hope that's OK'
I don't mind at all. I'll show it to all me mates!
Do you have a sense of your gay fans? Are they vocal?
Sometimes. They're always fucking vocal. It's a very important market when you're an actor. Essentially you're selling yourself and if you can garner a gay audience, gay men and women who love your films, then straights will follow. I think Samantha said it once on Sex and the City to her young model boyfriend: 'First you get the gays as your fans, then you get the girls, then you get the industry.' It always starts with what is avant garde and ends up being industry commercial over time. What wasn't cool 10 years ago' Clive Owen was back in England making films and no one gave a shit. And now, 10 years later, he's the leading man of the moment. He has a huge audience. It just took a little bit of time.
Do you have gay people in your life?
Oh, God, yes. I have an apartment in Morocco with a load of old gay ex-pats who can't be gay at home so they run around Morocco. Ireland was a very sexually uptight country for many years because it was run by the church. There's a lot of men in the closet for many, many years. I've got quite a few gay friends in Dublin. But still it's not as free as it would be here in New York. In New York, if you're gay, you're gay. But in Ireland there's still a taboo about it. Maybe in Dublin there's a little bit of a scene. But once you go outside of Dublin, forget about it. It's hard to be a gay man or a gay woman in Ireland. There's still a lot of prejudice over there.
The Prime Minister of Ireland recently pledged to legalize civil partnerships for gay couples.
I'm sure he would. I'm sure from a political point of view, he wants to be seen as a very liberal person. But that's not necessarily the way of the people. What's said in the public eye so a politician can be seen as open doesn't necessarily give a perception of how the man on the street is going to take it. I've got lots of really, really ultra-straight friends in Ireland who would still have major problems' not the same as they would have 10 or 20 years ago, but they still hold some element of prejudice. But who gives a fuck anyway. I don't go to bed with any of them. I could care less at the end of the day.
More than most actors, you have really defied typecasting. Is that something you actively pursue or do you just get offered a variety of roles?
It's just the way the cookie crumbles. I've always gone out to try to play different roles to give myself as much range as possible. I did the films that I got. Up until doing Match Point people still had this, 'Well, he's a bit pretty,' and they look back at Velvet Goldmine and The Governess and Vanity Fair, and it's all very lovely. But it wasn't until Match Point came out that people said, 'He can play a straight leading man.' It changed over time. Sometimes you will get a role that will define you for a certain period of time as what you are. And then you get one that changes that and they define you as that for a period of time.
Was Goldmine the only time you have ever played a queer character?
No, God, no. I did The Tribe with [writer/director] Stephen Poliakoff for British TV. I played not gay but bisexual, and I ended up in bed with Jeremy Northam. It was really funny. It was me, Jeremy, and Anna Friel in bed together for a threesome. And Jeremy's reeeeeeally uptight. The more uptight he got, the more outlandish and flamboyant I got. When we were doing the scene, I kept reaching my hand down and squeezing his ass and he was trying to fucking concentrate. Then I did B. Monkey where I was Rupert Everett's boyfriend, and you can imagine, Rupert wasn't uptight at all.
Are you dating anyone?
Yeah. I've got a girlfriend back in London. She's a student. She's a nice girl.
And what's up next? You seem to have a deal to only work with Keri Russell [with whom he costars in MI3 and with whom he's currently filming August Rush]. Are you contractually bound to act together?
I hope so. She's spectacular. We're shooting August Rush in New York. She's a great girl. Great actress. She's a girl who's been around films and making good work for quite a few years now. I think this year she's going to move into leading lady status where Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz are. You've got a lot of actresses out there, but nobody's as quite as'and this might be a horrible way of describing it'handsomely beautiful as Keri Russell is. I can really see her playing very sophisticated roles. The kind Michelle Pfeiffer played. Keri's got maturity without looking any older than 25.
What else do you have coming up?
I'm playing Henry VIII [in Tudors]'a sort of younger, sexier version of Henry VIII. I won't have any red wig, red beards, or 50 pounds of weight. There's a preconception of what he looked like, but it's an artist's interpretation of him 50 years after his death. Henry didn't like having paintings of him in real life. People had to imagine what he'd be like. He was quite a lean guy who was quite into hunting. And anyone who did that much hunting, fucking, and cutting people's heads off really didn't have too much time to sit around on his La-Z-Boy watching Friends.
Scarlett Johansson said working with you was like having a 'girlfriend on the set.' How did you take that quote?
Did she really say that?
Um' yep. Thought you would have heard about that.
Kinky tart. I have a love of women's shoes.
Wearing them or just looking at them?
Looking at them and buying them. I would go out and buy a fantastic pair of shoes for nobody just to own them. If I wasn't an actor, I'd probably design women's shoes. I talked to Scarlett about that for hours. Cheeky tart. Wait until I get me hands on her!
For more Jonathan Rhys-Meyers dish, pick up the June issue of Out.