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Also Known As: Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe Died:
Born: July 27, 1977 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Dublin, IE Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers first gained notoriety for his lead role in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" (1998), a surreal examination of 1970s glam rock in which he portrayed a sort of fictional hybrid of David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Meyers gave captivating performances in several controversial and little-seen films including Ang Lee's "Ride with the Devil" (1999) and the screen adaptation of "Prozac Nation" (2000) before receiving a profile boost in the British hit "Bend it Like Beckham" (2004). Following an Emmy-nominated performance as "Elvis" (2005) in the miniseries of the same name, Rhys Meyers began to appear in high-profile American features "Match Point" (2005) and "Mission: Impossible III (2006). For his challenging work portraying the voracious King Henry VIII in "The Tudors" (Showtime, 2007-2010), Rhys Meyers received across-the-board accolades. However, despite his well-received work in film and television, Meyers' reputation as a somewhat troubled actor with multiple rehab stints under his belt would occasionally cast a shadow of uncertainty over his promising career, but these struggles never diminished his raw talent.Born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe on July 27, 1977 in Dublin,...

Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers first gained notoriety for his lead role in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine" (1998), a surreal examination of 1970s glam rock in which he portrayed a sort of fictional hybrid of David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Meyers gave captivating performances in several controversial and little-seen films including Ang Lee's "Ride with the Devil" (1999) and the screen adaptation of "Prozac Nation" (2000) before receiving a profile boost in the British hit "Bend it Like Beckham" (2004). Following an Emmy-nominated performance as "Elvis" (2005) in the miniseries of the same name, Rhys Meyers began to appear in high-profile American features "Match Point" (2005) and "Mission: Impossible III (2006). For his challenging work portraying the voracious King Henry VIII in "The Tudors" (Showtime, 2007-2010), Rhys Meyers received across-the-board accolades. However, despite his well-received work in film and television, Meyers' reputation as a somewhat troubled actor with multiple rehab stints under his belt would occasionally cast a shadow of uncertainty over his promising career, but these struggles never diminished his raw talent.

Born Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keeffe on July 27, 1977 in Dublin, Ireland, Rhys Meyers was raised in Cork, where he was thrown out of school at age 15 and worked the streets as a young grifter. Acting entered his life when he was spotted by a casting director cruising local pool halls for teens to appear in "The War of the Buttons" (1994). A lucky break put Rhys Meyers on the acting path, but it was his own dogged determination that brought him a fruitful career even after he failed at his audition for "The War of the Buttons." The event spurred the headstrong teenager to prove he could succeed in the field, beginning his relentless pursuit of work and steady stream of auditions. His first job was in a Knorr soup commercial! Soon after, he made his first big screen appearance with a bit part in 1994's "A Man of No Importance."

Rhys Meyers followed up with a more significant role, the title character in little-seen "The Disappearance of Finbar" (1996), before landing the notable role as the assassin of Irish revolutionary "Michael Collins" in the 1996 Neil Jordan film. The young actor kept busy with the fantasy/comedy feature "The Killer Tongue," a 1996 Spanish/English co-production, and made his U.S. television debut that same year as a young Samson in TNT's biblical epic, "Samson and Delilah." In "The Maker" (HBO, 1997), Rhys Meyers was a teenager whose long-lost older brother (Matthew Modine) turns him on to a life of crime; a role that showcased the actor's ability to quickly learn and capably deliver an American accent. Also that year, he was featured as a relentless bully torturing Brad Renfro in "Telling Lies in America," Guy Ferland's look at the 1960s radio payola scandal. The controversial British television movie "The Tribe" (1998) followed shortly before he undertook the notable role of a young man in a wealthy 19th Century English family who competes with his father for the affections of "The Governess," a Sephardic Jewish woman posing as a gentile. While the film was somewhat formulaic, Rhys Meyers was riveting as the rebellious and misguided love-struck child of privilege.

Next up for the young actor was a featured turn in Todd Haynes' highly stylized "Velvet Goldmine" (1998), an engagingly indulgent look at early 1970s glam rock. Rhys Meyers starred as fictional pop icon Brian Slade, a fast-rising star whose descent was even quicker, following a botched publicity stunt, wherein he faked his death. Perfectly suited for the role due to his appropriately lithe and lanky frame and sexually ambiguous beauty, the actor delivered an emotionally understated performance but served as an interesting contrast to the vibrant visuals and theatrical music. Rhys Meyers capably handled the character's transitions from struggling visionary to up-and-coming hot property to crazed fallen star done in by a broken heart and an out-of-control ego. Playing opposite Ewan McGregor's Iggy Pop-esque Curt Wild in one of the more unexpectedly sweet (and remarkably attractive) romantic screen pairings, Rhys Meyers did much of his own singing in "Velvet Goldmine," and camped it up most impressively in several music video scenes interspersed throughout. That film, along with an off screen liaison with co-star Toni Collette, raised the young actor's profile considerably, with the press coverage surrounding the fashionable film landing him in dozens of British magazines.

Generating less buzz was his featured role in Mike Figgis' "The Loss of Sexual Innocence" (1999) and his unsettling turn as the volatile young boyfriend and criminal partner of Rupert Everett in Michael Radford's "B. Monkey" (filmed in 1996; released in the USA in 1999). Higher profile projects followed in 1999, including a memorable supporting role as a sadistic and unstable Bushwacker in Ang Lee's Civil War-era Western "Ride with the Devil" (1999). Rhys Meyers delivered an admirable reproduction of the archetypal villainous Southern accent and gave an appropriately chilling performance in this well made but long-winded feature. He next gave a strong co-starring turn opposite Anthony Hopkins, playing Chiron, son of Tamora (Jessica Lange), in "Titus" (also 1999), Julie Taymor's contemporary take on the minor Shakespeare tragedy, "Titus Andronicus."

The actor continued to work steadily on both sides of the pond, frequently appearing in high-profile films including Christina Ricci's long-delayed adaptation of "Prozac Nation" (2001); as the central character George Amberson in Alfonso Arau's telepic adaptation of author Booth Tarkington's - and legendary director Orson Welles' - "The Magnificent Ambersons" (2002); and as J , the romantic Irish soccer coach, in the smash Brit import "Bend It Like Beckham" (2002). After distinguished turns in the TV movie adaptation of "The Lion in Winter" (2003) opposite Patrick Stewart and the Netherlands-produced fantasy-romance "The Emperor's Wife" (2003), Rhys Meyers had a banner year in 2004, with roles in director Mike Hodges' noirish "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" opposite Clive Owen and in director Mira Nair's adaptation of Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" starring Reese Witherspoon. After an acclaimed performance as the King in the popular CBS miniseries "Elvis" (2005) - for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television - the actor delivered one of his finest performances when he appeared in writer-director Woody Allen's high-minded morality drama "Match Point" (2005). In the drama, he played a social-climbing tennis pro in London who would "rather be lucky than good" but finds his comfortable, status-granting marriage to a doting wife (Emily Mortimer) imperiled by a torrid affair with a sensual but demanding American actress (Scarlett Johansson).

In "Mission: Impossible III" (2006), Rhys Meyers was part of Ethan Hunt's (Tom Cruise) field team trying to rescue an operative (Keri Russell) from a remorseless weapons dealer (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Still on a roll, the actor took his first stab at television, playing King Henry VIII in Showtime's 10-part series "The Tudors" (2007-2010), a lavish, detailed production depicting the brutal monarch before his break from the Catholic Church and the expansion of his waistline. Rhys Meyers portrayed the typically portly king in the days when he was an accomplished sportsman, avid gambler and unrelenting womanizer, and for his sizeable efforts earned a Best Actor Golden Globe nomination in 2008. He repeated the feat the following year, earning his second consecutive Golden Globe nod in the category, though he faced stiff competition from Hugh Laurie and Jon Hamm.

With "The Tudors" enjoying critical success, Rhys Meyers maintained a busy schedule, interwoven with work in feature films, even as he increasingly battled personal demons and issues with alcohol. The romantic melodrama "August Rush" (2007) paired him with Keri Russell as the birth parent of a musical prodigy (Freddie Highmore) he never knew existed. The actor's ongoing success, however, was tainted by a stint in a rehabilitation clinic, followed a few months later by his arrest at the Dublin International Airport in the fall of 2007 for public drunkenness. Rhys Meyers returned to rehab once more in early 2009 for several weeks, only to be arrested again in June of that year, this time at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport. It was while waiting for a flight at an airport bar that the troubled actor became intoxicated enough to be refused service, at which point he allegedly attacked a waiter and threatened to kill members of the staff. The following year saw his return to theaters opposite John Travolta in the comedic action-adventure "From Paris with Love" (2010), as a U.S. Embassy employee caught up in the shenanigans of a wild card spy (Travolta) attempting to foil a terrorist threat.

As "The Tudors" completed its final season, Rhys Meyers checked himself into a treatment facility for a third time, after yet another altercation at an airport bar in the spring of 2010. The incident occurred during the early morning hours at New York's JFK Airport while the actor drank heavily prior to his flight bound for Los Angeles. His drunken rant, directed at several employees, garnered Rhys Meyers the ignoble distinction of being banned from flying American Airlines for life. Sadly the spiral continued when Rhys Meyers was rushed to the hospital in June 2011, after an apparent overdose of an undetermined medication. Although he initially refused treatment and was later released, speculation of a suicide attempt ran rampant in the press.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

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 Shelter (2013)
5.
 Another Me (2013)
6.
7.
8.
 Bronte (2008)
10.
 Toussaint (2007)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in Cork, Ireland; discovered by Hubbard Casting in a pool hall there
:
Unsuccessfully auditioned for the lead in the feature "The War of the Buttons"
:
First professional work, landed role in a Knorr soup commercial
1994:
Made feature debut in a bit role in "A Man of No Importance"
1996:
First significant part, Finbar in "The Disappearance of Finbar"
1996:
Landed pivotal role as the assassin in Neil Jordan's "Michael Collins"
1996:
Appeared in the quirky fantasy-comedy "The Killer Tongue"
1996:
Portrayed the young Samson in the TNT TV-movie "Samson and Delilah"
1997:
Co-starred with Matthew Modine in "The Maker"; aired on HBO in the USA
1997:
Played Kevin Boyle, the leader of a gang that bullies Brad Renfro, in "Telling Lies in America"
1998:
Appeared in the British TV-movie "The Tribe"
1998:
Filmed "B. Monkey," starring as the twisted boyfriend of Rupert Everett's Paul
1998:
Had featured role as the lovestruck teenage son of a wealthy British family in the 19th Century-set drama "The Governess"
1998:
Starred as fictional glam-rock icon Brian Slade in Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine"; also performed songs for the soundtrack
1999:
Played the younger incarnation of Julian Sands' documentary filmmaker in Mike Figgis' "The Loss of Sexual Innocence"
1999:
Cast by Ang Lee in the Civil War drama "Ride With the Devil," playing a ruthless killer
1999:
Featured alongside Jessica Lange in "Titus," famed theater director Julie Taymor's feature directorial debut
2002:
Had featured role in the A&E miniseries version of "The Magnificent Ambersons"
2002:
Starred as the coach of a girls football (soccer) team in "Bend It Like Beckham" opposite Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley
2003:
Cast in the feature based on the best selling novel "Prozac Nation"
2004:
Starred opposite Clive Owen in "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead"
2004:
Co-starred with Colin Farrell in Oliver Stone's "Alexander"
2005:
Portrayed American icon Elvis Presley in the CBS TV movie "Elvis"; earned an Emmy nomination for Best Actor
2005:
Played a former tennis pro opposite Scarlett Johansson in Woody Allen's "Match Point"
2006:
Cast in the J.J. Abrams-helmed "Mission: Impossible III" opposite Tom Cruise
2007:
Cast as Henry VIII on the Showtime series "The Tudors"; earned Golden Globe (2008, 2009) nominations for Best Actor in a Drama Series
2007:
Co-starred with Jonathan Keri Russell and Freddie Highmore in the child-prodigy drama "August Rush"
2010:
Co-starred with John Travolta in "From Paris with Love"; co-written by Luc Besson
2012:
Cast in the period drama "Albert Nobbs" opposite Glenn Close
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Rhys Meyers received the inaugural Guinness Award for Outstanding Young Actor (1996).

"I went up to Dublin and met Neil [Jordan] at the Davenport hotel. I was sitting in the lobby waiting for the audition and I'll always remember the carpet, this beautiful royal blue carpet I was looking down at while I was waiting. There were two other guys waiting and talking away, and one of them had met Neil before. I just sat there saying nothing. They went in to meet Neil and when they came out talking and laughing, I thought, 'that's it'. Auditions always make me nervous, anyway, and that made me feel even worse. But I went in and it was great. Neil didn't ask me to do anything for the role. He just sat down and talked to me. The next day he rang my agent and cast me."---Jonathan Rhys Meyers quoted in The Irish Times, December 7, 1996.

Rhys Meyers on his role in Sandra Goldbacher's "The Governess": "It was with a first-time director, which I always like because I'm new to this business, and I think, wow, maybe I can do something in this that will make the director great. We're all helping each other up."---quoted in Daily News, July 28, 1998.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, explaining how early rejections made him more driven in his pursuit of an acting career: "It drove me to madness. And it drove me to an anger, a hunger to where I wanted to prove them wrong and so I kept going for auditions. I got rejection after rejection. I thought I was fighting Michael Tyson at one point because I was just getting beaten so much, beaten so much, beaten so much. And then ... I got a role. It was like punching back. I think I've knocked them out now."---Quoted to New York August 3, 1998.

"When you want to be an actor, especially in films, you've got to have a certain arrogance, but I'm looking at things in the long term, because a star is very short term, you only see it when it explodes."---Rhys Meyers in Rolling Stone, August 20, 1998.

"I don't love acting. How can you love something when you sit around 12 hours a day and work 10 minutes a day? I'm just doing it because it keeps me off the streets and out of jail."---Jonathan Rhys Meyers quoted in Jane, November 1998.

Rhys Meyers on how he approaches character: "As opposed to being romantic and poetic about it, I start walking hand in hand with my own honesty about myself. I would never sit down and study a character. The character is in me and all I have to do is bring it to the surface, so I look really truthfully at myself and what I am. If you're giving an honest emotion and you're not trying to fake anything, it's going to be beautiful because honesty is what people feel, essentially, and it can turn into art. Every character I play is just an aspect of who I am. Everybody has every emotion in the world. Some people aren't able to surface them and I'm lucky enough that I can."---quoted in Interview, December 1998.

"I'd love to just make films in Ireland because I'd be at home. But I don't like playing Irish characters because I want to play as many characters as I can and make a fool of myself until somebody finally goes, 'That's crap.' Then I'll go and play Irish fellas."---Rhys Meyers quoted in London's Evening Standard, November 4, 1999.

"People's perception of me was that I was quite a feral character and there was something quite dangerous about me," the actor said. "Then I did 'Beckham' and people said, 'Oh, he's actually a sweet boy, too.'"---Rhys-Meyers quoted to CNN.com, May 6, 2005.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Toni Collette. Actor. No longer together.

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Alan Rhys Meyers. Musician. Younger.
brother:
Jamie Rhys Meyers. Musician. Younger.

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