• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Jeremy Irons and the Complications of Desire

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind – over 10,000  items- is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.In this excerpt from our archives,  twice Golden Globe winner Jeremy Irons meditates on the complexities of love, passion, and attraction – all because of his work on director David Cronenberg’s adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s acclaimed play M. Butterfly, about a French diplomat (Irons) who falls madly in love with a Chinese opera singer (John Lone).M  Butterfly because I was fascinated with the idea that we turn the object of our desire into whatever we want it to be. Many women do that constantly, and it’s a consistent mistake they make. Now, carry that to an extreme, and you will wish to see a woman when, in fact, it’s a man. Maybe one loves a woman for the man in her, or a woman loves a man because he has an area of femininity.We have to say we’re either gay or straight – rather than that we’re attracted to that person who happens to be a man or happens to be a woman. I like his or her body; I find him or her attractive; I like his or her mind. For me, personally, because of the way I’ve been brought up if that happens to be a man -and I suppose about three times in my life I have met a man I think is wonderful – if I were gay, I’d fall in love. But even that says if I were gay. The Greeks didn’t have that problem 2,000 years ago. They just loved a person, and if it happened to be a man, it was a man.  If it happened to be a woman, it was a woman. That’s an area I’m interested in, and I think the film explores it to a large extent.”