Jonathan Rhys Meyers was born July 27, 1977, in Dublin, Ireland. He and his family moved to County Cork, Ireland, when the actor was nearly a year old, and then, at the age of 3, his father left the family, leaving his mother to care for Jonny and his 3 younger brothers alone.
Rhys Meyers grew up with a tumultuous childhood, spending some time in an orphanage and being permanently expelled from school at age 16. Happy to be out of school, he began spending time in a local pool hall where he was discovered by Hubbard Casting. The casting agents were talent-spotting for the David Puttnam production of War of the Buttons (1994), and asked Rhys Meyers to appear for an audition. After three days of auditions, however, he did not get the role, and Rhys Meyers gave up on his acting aspirations. Soon afterward, he received a call to audition for a national ad campaign for Knorr soup, and though embarrassed by the attention from the ad, he soon found himself considered for a major film. His movie acting debut was a very small role in the film A Man of No Importance (1994), where his simple cast credit is as "First Young Man". His first lead role was in the film The Disappearance of Finbar (1996). During a 6-month postponement in production, he returned home to Cork and there received a call about the film Michael Collins (1996). He traveled to Dublin to meet with director Neil Jordan and successfully won the role of Collins's assassin. Jordan wrote about his meeting with the actor, "I have found someone to play Collin's (sic) killer. Jonathan Rees-Myers (sic), from County Cork, apparently, who looks like a young Tom Cruise. [He] Comes into the casting session with alarming certainty. Obviously gifted".
Rhys Meyers continued working constantly from that point and appeared in such films as The Maker (1997), Telling Lies in America (1997), and The Tribe (1998). Going on to film The Governess (1998), B. Monkey (1998), Titus (1999) and Ride with the Devil (1999/I), he has received critical acclaim for several performances, most notably as "Brian Slade" in Velvet Goldmine (1998), as "Steerpike" in the British mini-series "Gormenghast" (2000), and as a sympathetic football coach in Bend It Like Beckham (2002). Rhys Meyers is also a talented singer and musician, having performed his own vocals in Velvet Goldmine (1998) and appearing on the film's soundtrack. Rhys Meyers still resides in County Cork, Ireland.
His sense of fashion
Sang some of the songs that appear in Velvet Goldmine (1998).
Has a nephew named Dylan, son of his brother, Ali O'Keefe.
Has three younger brothers: 'Jamie O'Keeffe (I)', Paul O'Keeffe and Ali O'Keeffe.
He was born with a heart condition, and was baptized rather quickly for fear he would not live long.
Chosen by Cosmopolitan Magazine at #34 of the 100 Most Sexiest Men In The World. 
He changed his last name when he took up acting, taking his mother's maiden name of Meyers.
"Rhys" is pronounced "reese."
Beat out at least 200 actors for the role of Elvis Presley.
In order to avoid the boyish and somewhat androgynous junkies and weak- willed characters he found himself typecast as, he underwent a fitness regime in 2004 and gained and maintained about 25 extra pounds of muscle, so he can also be considered for more masculine roles.
Longtime companion of heiress Reena Hammer from 2004 to 2012.
Face of the "Versace" men's collection of Autumn/Winter 2006 and Spring 2007 as well as of the new fragrance of "Hugo Boss".
Resides in London and Los Angeles when not filming. Owns an apartment in Morocco and Dublin.
Has played "The King" in several different roles starting with Elvis Presley in the CBS mini-series Elvis (2005) (TV) and later portraying "King Henry VIII" in the Showtime program "The Tudors" (2007).
Arrested at the Dublin airport November 18, 2007 on charges of public drunkenness and breach of the peace.
His mother, Geraldine Meyers, passed away, at age 50, after a sudden illness [November 21, 2007].
The first acting work he did was a commercial at 15 years old for which he was paid 500 pounds.
Thought of joining the priesthood when he was a kid.
Bought his mother a home from his first big paycheck.
Is a big fan of Bob Marley.
Owns homes in London and Los Angeles.
Lived in Italy for a few years.
Was offered a part in the 2002 hit thriller Gangs of New York (2002) but turned it down because he was too busy.
Idolizes Johnny Depp.
Is good friend with fellow Irish actor Stuart Townsend. The two of them protested at the "Save Tara Hill Campaign" in 2006.
Is good friends with Cillian Murphy who is one of his favorite actors.
Ranked 44 on AfterElton's Gay Icon List.
Being an actor is the easiest job. Just say the lines.
"You get on a set and immediately people are wiping your ass for you, and nobody tells you when you're being an asshole. I'm sure nobody working for Tom Cruise would turn around and say, 'Tom, don't do that anymore because you're a dickhead to do that'. Actually, he might quite like it".
I felt lower then than I did when I was 13 years old, I remember getting out of the limo with Toni and Christian Bale and walking towards all these photographers, and they were going, 'Hey! Toni! Look over here! Hey, Christian, here!' And I just walked on because nobody had an idea who I was. It was a horrible experience. - Cannes Film Festival 1998.
There will be ups and downs, but it's important to remember you're on your own beautiful journey and once you're on it you have to see it through to its conclusion and try to never be afraid to do anything because what is the worse that can happen?
A lot of men are very uptight, but I don't distinguish between male and female beauty. Beauty is beauty.
I think it is important to stay close to your roots and be true to yourself, be honest. I don't want to play games in Hollywood and pretend to be someone else. I still suffer from insecurity and that situation would make it worse.
But actors, everything is so physical. You're basically the only product you have. The hardest part of acting is realizing it doesn't matter. I'm going to try and not take it too seriously because, if I do, I would really wreck my head.
I think I'd really like to be someone who would be known for being a nice guy.
I've never gone to acting school and I never will, so I'm learning about the business from the people who are in the business. It doesn't seem like I work at all. And the unknown is always exciting.
... I wouldn't date an actress. There's only room for one actor in my life and I'm it. Too difficult. On the one hand, they understand the job. But on the other hand, it's very competitive within the relationship. Two actors, say one becomes a mega-star and the other doesn't. Happens all the time. So one is getting so much attention, and the other person feels jealous.
I don't have many friends that are actors. It's a very faux environment. I don't call people up after films.
I find actors who play nasty guys in movies are the nicest guys in real life, and the opposite then goes for heroes.
At some point in your career as an actor you're going to have to get on a Stairmaster. The days of Harris and O'Toole are gone. If you want to be at the top of your game, you can't be out partying with your friends, or having six pints a night down the pub.
(On Match Point (2005)) It's strange this film was not difficult to make in any way. It was the easiest and most relaxing film I've ever done.
When somebody looks at the body of work that I've done and they put Bend It like Beckham, Match Point, August Rush, The Tudor's and Elvis next to each other they can see very many different layers of what I can do as an actor. That's why I do different roles so people can see your range.
(When he first realized he wanted to be an actor full-time) I think when I went on to the set of Michael Collins which was the second film that I shot. And it wasn't even the acting it was that whole atmosphere and suddenly I was on a film set with Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman and Neil Jordan and it was the whole buzz about it and the big cameras and suddenly it was kind of like this is a pretty fucking cool job.
To get up in front of a camera of course you have to have a certain amount of vanity. All acting is narcissism in some way. Would I be a narcissistic person? Absolutely. Am I vain? Absolutely. Any actor who sits down in front of you and tells you they're not vain its bullshit. I'm sure a lot of actors are like 'Oh no, I'm not vain I just look fabulous everyday'. Now they'd like to believe that themselves. Its all very carefully manipulated, and I've met and worked with some of the most beautiful actors in the world and then you see them on a cover of a magazine they don't look like that, any of them, they just don't.
(On if he saw similarities between him and Elvis Presley) Yeah, of course. I know, I saw the things I have in common with Elvis and I latched onto them, like he was a poor boy from Mississippi, I was a poor boy from Cork. We didn't get on well at school, either of us. We weren't liked by the students particularly. We were very, very different in the way we dressed, in the way we looked. We both bought houses for our Mama out of our first big paycheck. We both daydreamed and then went and fought to make our dreams a reality.
(On the hardest aspect of playing Elvis Presley) To get that energy. Because Elvis did a lot of things. Most people ask, 'What was harder? The dance moves? The guitar playing? The singing or the lip-synching?' I'll tell you what it was - the energy. If you're playing someone like Elvis Presley, the Elvis Presley that I know from reading and researching, you do it from the heart. So, I had to really put myself in those shoes. It was very, very hard, having to pretend to be Elvis Presley, because I'm an actor doing it, but unless you wake up every morning being Elvis Presley, you really don't know what that feels like.
(2001) I'd love to do a big blockbuster action film, it'd be great, can you imagine? Pay me, no problem. I'd love to do a huge big 'Mike and Jerry' type film. They're really great but I don't think Micheal Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer think too fondly of me. Wait until I go off and get an Oscar nomination, then they'll love me to bits.
If there's a good script and a good part, you can be guaranteed that all the best actors in the world are trying to get it. There's no such thing as once you get to a certain stage, everything becomes easy. Everything becomes harder, you want the best roles, the biggest roles. And so does everyone else.
It's not about money, fame, people knowing you. It's not even about enjoying yourself and being happy. It's about achieving something that's brilliant, creating something that's brilliant, for other people. For yourself, you're always going to be unsatisfied, but if somebody comes up to me and says, 'That was a brilliant part, and I really, really got it'. That's essentially it.
(On his role in "The Tudors" (2007)) I based him on what I would do myself if I had absolute power at 28, 29 years old. I didn't have the physicality of "Henry", you know? And so I had to do it all internally. I had to create this incredibly strong, powerful man without being sort of like 6' 4" and 300 pounds. I had to make his intellect bigger than anybody else's. I had to make his ambition bigger than anybody else's. I had to make his energy bigger than anybody else's. And I had to make him the most dangerous man in court.
(On becoming a successful actor) If you want to work, if you want to be successful, you have to struggle, you have to travel. You have to forgo relationships because they don't work, which I've learnt to my detriment. You have to forgo friends.
I auditioned for Tigerland and I was furious when I found out that Colin (Farrell) was doing it. But then when I saw the movie, there was nobody else that could make it like Colin made it. He was like this beautiful, beautiful cocktail of Marlon Brando in The Men and Montgomery Clift in Red River. He was sensitive and attitudeish - lawyerish - but at the same time so boyish, so sexual, so misled. He played it beautifully. I could never have done that. After I saw the movie I said, 'Okay, I see what I need to learn'."
(On Alexander (2004)) I did it just basically to work with Oliver Stone, but there wasn't enough work in it for me. I shouldn't have done it. I actually made a point of cutting myself out of two major scenes because I didn't want to be backroom dressing. I don't think Oliver really knew what he was taking on.
(On what satisfaction he gets as an actor) What do I get out of it at the end of the day? Money. I get to travel around to different places. I get--for 10 to 12 hours a day--to not really be me. It's great escapism. It can be very fucking therapeutic. But it's not something that's immediately satisfying. Sure, it's satisfying when a film you're in breaks $300 million at the box office, and the next thing is you get a $5 million offer, and there are awards flying about the place. But more often it's not. Every so often someone comes up and says, "Hey, I saw you in that movie. It was great!" And I'm like, "Yeah, thanks very much." And that's where the satisfaction comes in.
(On being a professional actor) I started acting at 18 years old because I got a lead role in a movie. It wasn't like I was a kid going, "When I grow up, I want to be an actor." So I think what drives me is I found something very young by mistake that I could do. But that doesn't necessarily mean I love it all the time. Because it's not lovable. The process of acting itself for me is really simple. It's not brain surgery. You take the character, and you play it as naturally as you possibly can. That's it. There's no greater or higher purpose. What makes acting difficult is the business end of it. Because no matter how genius an actor is or how many millions of dollars he makes, he can look back in his past and see a sea of rejection--even the people who are at the top of their game. Just because someone is like Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't mean he gets to do anything he wants. He has to fight for those roles the same as anybody else. Now, he is fighting on a different level, but it's still a fight. What's difficult about the prospect is trying to reinvent your self-confidence, even though it's constantly being torn down. And, of course, for every 10 people who like you in a film, there's 10 people who won't. I read one critique of me in Velvet Goldmine that said I had all the charisma of chewed bubblegum. I think I kept that one in my scrapbook.
I was always going to be different, and everyone knew it.
The hardest part about acting is realizing it doesn't matter.
Even though I've had the body of work I've had, and the success I've had, I do not rest on my laurels whatsoever.
I got paid 20 grand for my first film. And that's the lowest I ever got paid.
The hardest part about playing Henry has always been the hardest part about playing Henry. It's not like when I played Elvis or even 'Match Point' where I could look in the mirror and I could see the character. I can't look in the mirror and see Henry. I have to see my own version of Henry.
[About how he doesn't look like Henry the eighth] Yet none of the actors who are in the series look anything like the people they're playing. But I'm the only one that gets any flak for it because Henry was so immortalized by Holbein's paintings. That's not necessarily what Henry looked like. It's just great art.
History has a way of skewing people's view. Playing Henry can be very, very difficult at times but it's also very, very freeing because there's not one person in the world - I don't care how many books they've read - there's not one person in the world who can tell me what Henry talked like, what he walked like, how he behaved himself. Nobody can tell me absolutely that that's the way it was because they don't know. It's all guess work.
My dad was around a bit, but as a musician, they have to travel the roads.
I liked traveling when I was younger, now I travel for work. When I was young I just traveled. My plan was to travel, work, travel, work. So I haven't done some of my own traveling for a while, but I will.
I've had a lot of holidays booked and canceled in my life which also makes it very, very difficult to have a relationship because moving the way an actor moves is the same way an arch criminal moves: they've got to GO (he snaps his fingers). If you get a phone call from Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese on the eleventh hour, you've been offered this role - bang, gone. Which is why I've stayed away from marriage and children so I can be the gypsy if I want to.
I think, I'd like to do that (marry) at some point in my life. But I just turned 31 and it's all about my work right how. I've got a good body of work, a bunch of nominations and some awards and now is the time to go forward and do proper, real male roles because I worked through my 20s. It's very difficult to cast somebody in their 20s because you can only cast them as a teenager and they don't really have the experience to play the male roles yet. So I think it's when you get into your 30s that those roles actually come.
As a kid I spent an awful lot of time pretending I was somebody else. I think growing up in the 1980s wasn't very exciting so you kind of create this secret life of an alternate person. You pretend to be whatever you need to be that day, so you live in that dream world. So it's very easy to be an actor. I did a lot of acting when I was a kid. Not professionally, just to get myself in and out of trouble.
[Elvis Presley] was not a great businessman but he was a great artist and he needed somebody like Colonel Tom Parker to get him there. I don't think Elvis would have existed without Colonel Parker, he wouldn't have been anywhere near as famous. So you take the good with the bad.
(2004) Still resides in County Cork, Ireland
(November 2004) He has been chosen to play Elvis Presley in an upcoming television mini-series to be aired on CBS.
(June 2008) Currently filming the third season of "The Tudors" (2007) in Dublin, Ireland.
(September 2007) In New York filming August Rush
(January 2009) In California at the Beverly Hilton Hotel attending the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards Festival
(January 2009) At Macy's Herald Square, 151 West 34th street in New York City, Hugo Fragrance Counter, Main Floor, promoting the new men's fragrance Hugo Element by Hugo Boss.
(April 2009) Attending the premiere of "The Soloist"
(July 2009) Filming the final season of the Showtime series, "The Tudors" (2007).
|You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.|
|With our Resume service you can add photos and build a complete resume to help you achieve the best possible presentation on the IMDb.|
Click here to add your resume and/or your photos to IMDb.