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.