Who is Jonathan Rhys Meyers?
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an actor of Irish descent, best known for his roles in films like ‘Mission: Impossible III’, ‘Velvet Goldmine’, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and ‘Match Point’. Over the years, he has also gained popularity for his roles in tele-series like ‘Elvis’, in which he played the legendary musician Elvis Presley and ‘The Tudors’, in which he essayed the role of King Henry VIII. While he won the Golden Globe Award for ‘Elvis’, he bagged the Golden Nymph Award for ‘The Tudors’. Jonathan has had success as a model too, by being the face of famous brands like Versace men's collection and Hugo Boss fragrances. Apart from all this, he has done musical roles and is a vocalist too. Meyers has really worked his way up from humble beginnings to becoming a household name in UK and the US.
Childhood & Early Life
Meyers was born on July 27, 1977 in Dublin as Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe. He was raised along with his brothers Jamie, Alan and Paul, in rural County Cork by his mother, Mary Geraldine. His father, John O'Keeffe, who was a musician, left them when Meyers was just three years old.
Meyers had a difficult childhood. In his early life, he faced alcohol addiction issues and got himself admitted to several rehab centres on many occasions.
He also spent a few of his childhood years at an orphanage. When he became a teen, he befriended an Anglo-Irish farmer named Christopher Crofts, with whom he started to live and later referred to him as his ‘gay dad’.
Meyers attended North Monastery Christian Brothers School but was expelled at the age of 16. He then worked on the streets, swept floors at a pool hall and did other odd jobs for money and food.
His interest in acting was awakened when an agent came to the pool hall, looking for an unknown teen to be cast for a movie role. Meyers failed to win the role but was influenced enough to channel his energies in the direction of acting.
Meyers gave countless auditions, as many as three a week, until he was finally selected for a bit part in the 1994 film, ‘A Man of No Importance’.
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After the small role that he played in the movie ‘A Man of No Importance’, he landed another minor role, but a pivotal one in the Neil Jordan directed flick, ‘Michael Collins’ in 1996.
After what seemed like an endless string of rejections, Meyers finally got to play his first lead role in the 1996 film, ‘The Disappearance of Finbar’.
He was then starred as the lead in the teen-crime drama, ‘The Maker’, released in 1997. The following year, he appeared in four projects –‘B.Monkey’, ‘The Governess’ and a well-received television movie ‘The Tribe’.
But the film that turned Meyers’ luck around to make him the newest pin-up boy was the 1998 British-American drama, ‘Velvet Goldmine’. This movie also gave him a new identity as an androgynous actor.
Meyers appeared in several projects in the year 1999, including the Shakespeare adaptation ‘Titus’, the American Civil War epic ‘Ride with the Devil’ and an erotic flick ‘The Loss of Sexual Innocence’.
The following year, he appeared in the British Broadcasting Company’s miniseries, ‘Gormenghast’, and in 2001 he appeared in two relatively obscure films. The same year, he starred in the film, ‘Prozac Nation’, which was never released in theatres.
In 2002, Meyers played a supporting role as women's soccer-team coach in the hit indie film, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, directed by Gurinder Chadha.
His next television series was ‘Elvis’ which was aired in 2005 on channel CBS. The series met with great ratings but was roundly dismissed by most of the critics.
Greater triumph followed later in the year when Meyers was cast in the highly anticipated Woody Allen film, ‘Match Point’.
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That same year, he also appeared in Oliver Stone's epichistorical drama movie, ‘Alexander’.
Meyers' subsequent projects were impressive ones that included ‘Mission Impossible III’ in 2006 and ‘August Rush’, anAmerican drama movie. He was then cast by an American channel to play the history-making English monarch, Henry VIII in the series, ‘The Tudors’.
In 2007, Meyers stepped into modelling with advertising campaigns for some prestigious brands like Club Monaco and Versace. He has also modelled for a number of Hugo Boss campaigns.
Meyers was cast to play a Dracula in the television series, ‘Dracula’, aired in 2013. His thriller flick, ‘Damascus Cover’, which was an adaptation of a Howard Kaplan novel, was premiered at the Boston film festival on September 23, 2017.
Meyers’ future project includes a biopic of the political leader from the 1916 Irish Easter Rising era, Patrick Pearse.
The Disappearance of Finbar – This is Meyers’ first film as a lead, in which he played Finbar, who disappears after he jumps off a bridge but mysteriously returns after many years. Meyers initially had apprehensions playing the role as he considered himself a novice back then. But post the film’s release on 12 August 1996, his performance was highly acclaimed.
Michael Collins –Meyers was next seen in this biopic, set in the Irish Civil war era. Meyers played the role of an assassin named Michael. The film was premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 28 August 1996 and later had a theatrical release on 11 October 1996.
Velvet Goldmine – This film became the turning point in Meyers’ acting career. The film was loosely based on the life of the 70s pop star, David. In the film, his character was given the name Brian Slade, played by Meyers. Released on 6 November 1998, the film was reviewed as stunningly pretty.
Bend It Like Beckham – Meyers, for the first time worked with an Indian filmmaker, Gurinder Chadha in this rom-com, along with Indian actors like Anupam Kher. The film hit the theatres on 12 April 2002 and it surprised the critics as they had least expectations from the film, before its release.
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Match Point –Meyers was excited to be starring in this Woody Allen’s crime thriller. Set in London, the film revolves around the life of the pivotal character, Chris Wilton, played by Meyers. Post his marriage with his love Nola Rice, played by Scarlett Johansson, Chris finds himself in the vicious circle of love, lust, money and murder. Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 12 May 2005, the film was addressed as the best creation of Allen till date. The film had its theatrical release in the UK on 6 January 2006.
Major Works on Television
Gormenghast –Meyers appeared in this BBC miniseries as the central character, Steerpike. The series was based on the novel of the same name, authored by Mervyn Peake. Aired on 7 February 2000 in the UK, the series catered a visual treat to its audience.
Elvis – Meyers played the titular role in this miniseries based on the life of the pop star, Elvis Presley. Aired on May 8, 2005, the show was declared a hit.
The Tudors – This period television series was set in the era of the Tudor dynasty and is based on the life of King Henry VIII, played by Meyers. The show aired on 1 April 2007 and ran for 4 seasons.
Awards & Achievements
Venice Film Festival (2002) – Meyers received the Canal Grande Award for the Best Young Promising Actor for his performance in ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’.
Cannes Film Festival (2005) – Meyers won the Outstanding Newcomer award for the film, ‘Match Point’.
Golden Globe (2006) –Meyers received this prestigious award for‘Elvis’ under the category, Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries.
Meyers was in a relationship with Reena Hammer from 2004 to 2012. Before this relationship, there were rumours of him dating a series of actresses, namely Toni Collette, Rachael Leigh Cook, and Estella Warren.
He married Mara Lane in 2016 and the couple welcomed a son named Wolf Rhys Meyers, later that year.