Last week, the legendary Jeremy Irons invited us into his dressing room at Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre, where he's currently starring in Impressionism with Joan Allen. His current backstage alcove is the exact same one he had in 1984 when he starred with Glenn Close in The Real Thing, for which he won a Tony. He spoke with us about the room's paint job (tomato red) and its other previous occupants, and what he does in between performances.
Can you tell us about your history with this dressing room?
Well, this is the room I had 25 years ago with The Real Thing, and that is the door that I met, I mean everybody. The door would open and there would be Paul Newman, or Bette Davis. My autograph book [takes it out and shows it to us] has all their signatures. There we are — Rosemary Harris, Louis Malle, Candice Bergen, January 5, 1984. There we are.
How was the room when you had it in 1984?
It wasn’t this color. This is the color I asked them to paint it this time, because when I came back it had been turned into an office. And I said, "Do you need that office?" And they said they didn’t need it, and I said, "Well, could I have it back as my dressing room?" So they took all the cupboards and the shelves out, put it back as it was, and painted it this color, which I think is a nice warm color, and gave me a couch that I can sleep on, and a table.
That I borrowed from a friend, although it is actually a painting of my castle in Ireland. She was given it by someone else, and she wasn’t hanging it so I said, "Well, I'll put it in my dressing room." So that’s why that is there, to remind me of home.
Do you stay here between the matinee and evening performances?
I often do. I often do my fan mail, have a sleep, have a bit of a read. I nip out and have something to eat, but I usually do stay here.
What's the most important thing about a dressing room for you?
What I love is that I can open that door and everybody going up to their dressing rooms, or coming down, I can talk to, I see on the stairs, so I am not cut off. I am really in the middle of things, I love that. I have a window, I can see the street. I like that. It is not too big. It is just big enough, because I like boat-sized things, and it is a good size in that way. And I have a shower and a loo, which is all you need. I have a window that opens so that I can keep it cool. It just has a nice feel and it also has a memory. Amazing people have been here. One of the original occupants of this dressing room, someone was telling me the other day, a producer who had worked with her ... not Bette Davis ... Who was it who said, "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you excited to see me?"
Mae West! Mae West had this dressing room! Which was fantastic, and a lot of great people had this dressing room. There is a great spirit in here, and I love that sort of feeling of continuity.