Jeremy Irons defends his love of groping: ‘I love touching, I always touch people’

A few years ago, I wrote a story about a Jeremy Irons interview that bothered me. It was bothersome because I really didn’t know much about Jeremy other than I thought he was (and is) a talented actor. But with that interview, I found out that he either has an open marriage or an understanding wife, and that he has a very outdated and misogynistic view of sexual harassment. Jeremy said, in part: “Most people are robust. If a man puts his hand on a woman’s bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it. It is communication. Can’t we be friendly?” Well, in a new interview, Jeremy is discussing those 2011 comments, and he’s setting the record straight (sort of) on his marriage. Oh, and he also has some really screwed up ideas about statutory rape.

He has already enraged feminists by saying women should accept pats on the bottom in good humour. Now Jeremy Irons has waded back into the same controversy with the confession he loves ‘touching’ people – adding any ‘self-respecting woman’ would simply tell him to ‘f*** off’ if she minded.

Admitting he likes to ‘stir things up’, the 64-year-old also appeared to criticise people who claim they have been the target of underage sexual abuse, claiming they have been ‘encouraged’ to believe they are victims.

Mr Irons caused outrage in 2011 by saying: ‘If a man puts his hand on a woman’s bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it. It is communication. Can’t we be friendly?’

But on Wednesday, the actor, who has admitted his relationship with wife Sinéad Cusack is ‘dysfunctional’, suggested he had been misquoted – before proceeding to reiterate his controversial opinions.

In an interview with The Times, he revealed: ‘I love touching. I always touch people. I don’t think I said ‘bottom’ but of course I was misquoted. Basically, I said that any self-respecting woman would tell you to f*** off [if she minded]. I think we’re very robust as human beings.’

The star – famed for playing a sexually obsessed cabinet minister in 1992 film Damage – claimed he had been the target of unwanted advances as a young man, but never had any trouble fending them off. He said: ‘I had people when I was younger trying to feel me up. Older men. I just told them to get lost.’

Mr Irons, who played a man obsessed with an young girl in 1997’s film adaptation of Lolita, appeared to court further controversy by suggesting underage girls who have sex with older men should not be ‘encouraged’ to think they are victims of sexual abuse. He said an acquaintance told him of an affair she had with a much older man when she was 13 before he started filming the movie, adding: ‘There was sex involved. She said: “By the time I was 16 or 17, it petered out — it’s never affected me at all.” There are people who are victims in life and I don’t think they should be encouraged.’

Seemingly well aware of the controversy his comments are likely to provoke, Mr Irons added: ‘I think the job of artists is to stir things up’.

The star seemed anxious to advertise his disregard for authority and for convention. He has been married to Miss Cusack, 64, for 34 years. The couple, who have two grown-up sons, are reported to have an open relationship.

Asked about his marriage in his latest interview this week, Mr Irons would only say: ‘It goes on.’

He has been spotted in the company of much younger women on several occasions. In 2001, he was seen kissing French actress Patricia Kaas outside London’s Chinawhite nightclub. In 2009, he was seen in a ‘prolonged clinch’ with an assistant stage manager less than half his age. The following year, Spanish actress Loles León successfully sued a five-star hotel for £39,000 after breaking her wrist and pelvis falling down steps in the actor’s luxury suite.

She claimed she went to the room so she could tell her friends she had spent the night with him, adding: ‘I think he was up for it.’

Describing his marriage as ‘dysfunctional’, Mr Irons once revealed: ‘Sinead and I have had difficult times. Every marriage does because people are impossible. I’m impossible, my wife’s impossible, life’s impossible.’

In another interview, he said: ‘No marriage is what it seems. I will say that it is very difficult to be everything to one person.’

[From The Mail]

Let’s tackle this one by one.

Sexual harassment – Jeremy has a minor point, which is that women being harassed should feel like they can tell a harasser to “f—k off”. The problem I have with Jeremy in particular saying this is that he’s a movie star and a respected actor, and if he’s groping some intern or assistant, she probably feels like she has to put up with it or her job will be on the line. It’s about the consequences of telling a harasser to bugger off. And it’s about the harassment too.

Statutory rape – this is just so… wrong. Jeremy has met one person who had sex with an older man when she was 13, and so he extrapolates from that one incident that victims of statutory rape shouldn’t be encouraged to think of themselves as victims? Good God. That’s a Pandora’s box of ill-conceived sentiments.

His marriage – it sounds like he just does whatever he wants. I guess he thinks that his wife will never divorce him. Maybe. Whatever. You couldn’t pay me to be married to this man. Here’s a pic of Jeremy and his wife Sinead Cusack.

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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60 Responses to “Jeremy Irons defends his love of groping: ‘I love touching, I always touch people’”

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  1. T.Fanty says:

    He needs to pipe down. I love him too much as an actor and don’t want this drivel to kill that for me.

    • allons-y alonso says:

      +1. I respect him so much as an actor, but this definitely takes the edge off.

      I recently saw the BBC’s Hollow Crown where Irons played Henry IV…and the delicious Captain Shakespeare that is Tom Hiddleston was Hal/Henry V. It was really good.

      • T.Fanty says:

        Wasn’t it SO good? I didn’t like the Henry V, but that was all poor direction. Henry IV was phenomenal. The scene where Hal takes the crown from his “dead” father was near enough perfect. Both Irons and Hiddles were great. And don’t even get me started on Simon Russell Beale.

      • allons-y alonso says:

        I liked Henry V but i agree with you. It wasn’t as well directed as the others. Hal was awesome in Henry IV parts 1 and 2. And the bitch slap Irons delivered to Hiddles in part 1. I’m pretty sure I yelled out ‘my poor baby!’ ….. i can’t leave out Richard II in all of this either…Ben Whishaw is always a delight to watch.

      • T.Fanty says:

        His Richard was great, although the Christ imagery did go a little overboard. Rory Kinnear was also fabulous as Bolingbroke.

        You know, Hiddles has been taking a bit of a bashing around here of late, but The Hollow Crown actually reminds me that past all the bad tweets and dubious publicists, he is such a good actor. I thought his scenes with Jeremy Irons were so consistently good. And when he rejected Falstaff at the end of HIV, my heart nearly broke

      • allons-y alonso says:

        I’m glad i’m not the only one who thought the Christian imagery was overstated.

        Fricken Falstaff! I noticed that Hiddles has taken a bit of a beating here too and sometimes rightly so (it’s mostly for his twitter and rabid fans)….still love him and he’s got a long way to go in his career. If he does the same thing he did with Hal he’ll go on to really great things.

      • T.Fanty says:

        Well, Rupert Goold directed it and he isn’t exactly Mr. Subtle. The imagery is all there, though, in the play. David Tennant is playing Richard onstage this fall, which is going to be incredible.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        Those sound good. Unfortunately, The Henriad is just something that lives in the bookcase and my brain.

      • T.Fanty says:

        The whole of the Hollow Crown is available on YouTube.

        In slightly more geeky news, the eminent Shakespearean Stanley Wells is currently schooling the Hiddles fandom on twitter about why Hiddles misreads sonnet 130, which they have all been swooning over. He doesn’t see the Hiddles fatwa coming.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Where is Stanley Wells doing this? Link?

    • EscapedConvent says:

      Agree. This is a man who should just give the world his best “Blue Steel” & not talk about women.

      I don’t know how Sinead Cusack puts up with it.

      But I adore him as an actor all the same.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      All this info makes me sad. I love him as an actor, but I wouldn’t touch this man with a ten foot pole. Ick.

      Hollow Crown: Loved it, but I agree that Henry V was the weakest part. Henry IV 1& @ were brilliant. Mind you, these are among my favorite plays. For me, these and the Joanna Hogg films are Hiddles at his best. Jeremy Irons seems to never hit a false note.

      I have no issue with open relationships: Sinead Cusack is a strong woman and would leave if she wanted to. Relationships are complex. I know a number of people who have decided to remain married but have their own separate relationships.

      When I was in grad school, I was part of a large staff of housekeepers for a family where the husband slept in one wing (yes, “wing”) of the house and his wife in the other– mainly because they wanted to continue maintaining a certain kind of high flying lifestyle. They did not want to scale down, and they were very rational and detached about it.

      • T.Fanty says:

        There’s a big anti-marriage movement in the gay community, precisely because of the hetero-normative pressures to conform to the male/female monogamy paradigm. People don’t talk about unconventional relationships as much as they should.

        Did you ever read this article? It’s fabulous:

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        @tfanty: I have my own doubts about traditional marriage. I think there are a lot of people who crave alternatives. I know of three “triads” in my community (which granted is very artsy and alt) and they are all very solid. Two of these triads include children who get to have the benefit of a lot of adults who love them.

        I know many other people who are, as a matter of course, open in their relationships; couples who never stopped dating other people, and they simply love one another. It’s not complicated. That article describes what plenty of people I know would consider an ideal setup. For myself, it sounds like too much calendar management, but hey, I could be persuaded.

  2. Louise says:

    Very disturbing man. First film I saw him in Stealing Beauty, he was stroking the leg of a VERY young Liv Tyler (her first film) and it creeped me out. I’m extremely intutive & my alarm bells started to ring this was more than mere acting. Something isn’t right about him, and I’m never wrong! Later “Lolita” was on tv, him again, rubbing himself all over a 14/15yr old, you know the role it requires this but seriously this guy is not quite right. I dread to think of his persuations outside the public eye. I’ve seen flashes in my minds eye as an intuitive and this is the reason despite his good looks I cannot stand this disgusting thing.

    • Early Morning says:

      The “disgusting thing” almost cried while shooting a certain scene of Lolita, because he was so disturbed by what he had to there. By the way, the girl’s parents were constantly present, lawyers were heavily involved to make sure everything they do were all right, body double was used, she was just completely protected from any trauma.

      I was fortunate enough to meet Jeremy recently, and I must say he’s one of the most gentle, civilized and kind people I have ever come across. A genuinely good man. As a young woman, and not the ugliest on Earth, I experienced older men trying to feel me up, but he was not that cheap for a second. I just hate to see how papers – and especially UK papers – try to make him appear by quoting strictly 1 sentence or if you are lucky 2, out of context. Youtube is full of short interviews with him – watch them, and see the way he actually talks…

  3. Arock says:

    Love the blue steel stare in second pic.

  4. T.C. says:

    He doesn’t see a problem with an older man having sex with a 13 year old then stopping when the girl hits 16-17? Like she’s now too old or wise enough to the old man’s tricks. WTH. Bitch please.

  5. Micki says:

    I strongly disagree with him concerning underage sex. That he’s met ONE girl, who seemed unaffected doesn’t mean it’s a general rule. Teenagers should be protected because the majority (in my opinion) doesn’t have the required experience to judge if it was indeed consensual sex or a rape.

    About hes other point I’m more yes than no.
    It happened to my mom some years ago.Some professor slapped “friendly” her bum in the office, in front of some of her coleagues. Well, my mum turned and went straight for his throat. She HAD to be stopped by the others. He never ever dared to repeate it. They have worked together on more than one occasion since.

    • KK.Urine Inspiration says:

      I find it curious that the woman “says” it never affected her.

      Um, how many of us only realize that we’ve been hurt…in RETROSPECT?

      Who knows how that woman actually lives and loves?

      Not Jeremy, me thinks…

    • KK.Urine Inspiration says:

      Also, your mom is AWESOME!

      But, as the post says, what if you are a LOW-level Assistant who has WORKED shit job after SHit job and FINALLY got a shot at a production with Jeremy Irons!

      Are you going to Screw yourself out of a job/career because you stood up for yourself?

      *THAT* is the question women face daily.

      The squeaky wheel…gets fired if the “STAR” actor says. so.

      (Same if the director wants to touch n feel, or an Executive Producer…it goes on and on and on…)

  6. vic says:

    He crossed over from revered actor to creepy old guy a long time ago. And all that weird sexual stuff on Borgias must delight the hell out of him.

  7. flan says:

    ‘Dealing with it’ should be a good punch to a creep’s face.

    Nobody has the right to grab a woman if she doesn’t want them to, and comments like his (complaining=unfriendly=something only uncool women do) only makes things worse.

    Teach guys not to rape and harass, Jeremy, don’t whine about women not being friendly enough when they try.

    Used to like him, but am over that now.

  8. littlemissnaughty says:

    Not even touching the underage sex thing. Nuh-uh.

    The groping … where to begin? Why do these people (men AND women) always view this from the woman’s perspective? As in, why is it always about “She can just tell him to f*ck off” or “Women need to learn how to be more vocal”. Um, yes? And MEN need to learn to ASK first. And not touch random body parts. Because newsflash, those who do? Yeah, they don’t usually respond well to the woman who will tell them to get lost. Or even slap them. “Hey, don’t be such a b*tch, no harm no foul.” Ugh.
    Basic rule: Don’t touch breasts or anything below the waist. Done.

    I’d love to know if he’s fine with people grabbing his junk btw.

  9. Lupe says:

    What an ass. At least he’s honest, so we all know to stay away.

    People are saying they still respect him as an actor, but…I can’t, despite the talent. I’ve lost all respect. If only Hollywood would stop hiring these pigs.

  10. bns says:

    He sounds miserable. His voice is still sexy though.

  11. lucy2 says:

    Instead of putting it on women to have to tell men to f*** off, how about you don’t harass and touch people to begin with! OMG. And I can’t even get started on his ideas about “victims”.

    If he and his wife agree to have an open marriage, great, go for it. But his attitude towards women in general is disgusting and disgraceful.

  12. Ann says:

    Old, creepy, out of it. Hope the women he gropes all kick him in his droopy balls. Next!

  13. kitkerenina says:

    Another sick ass older man, not even in politics. Wish there was a dick death row they could all go to.

  14. Mrs. Darcy says:

    Gawd, he was so hot in Damage/The French Liuetenant’s woman era. Now he’s skeeving me out. I don’t get why he thinks it’s ok to voice these things, unless he really wants to court controversy. It’s not like he’s too old to know better, he lives in the world, he seems intelligent – bizarre. He is a fantastic actor though.

  15. T.Fanty says:

    Not to defend him AT ALL, but what he’s talking about isn’t just about him being a perv. It’s about a culture that, as an older man, he’s a part of. I remember going to Europe (mostly Italy and Spain) when I was younger with my mother and being warned by my father that I will get my bottom pinched, but it’s a cultural thing, and just to stick close to him to avoid harassment. It’s part of a patriarchal environment thing that the whole Jimmy Saville issue is part of, where as older men, groping women is “just for fun,” and if the woman didn’t want it, she was perfectly within her rights to say no (albeit at the risk of being called a prude).

    As I said, I’m not defending him, but I do think he’s less of a deranged predator than a relic of a different age who has completely failed to recognize the power dynamics that prevent a woman from objecting in such a situation. I don’t think it makes his comments excusable, but I do think the context also matters.

  16. Dinah says:

    Holy sh!t, he looks like he’s ready to snap his wife’s neck in the photo of them, and with him saying she and marriage are impossible, it looks even more incriminating. Yikes. Such a creep.

  17. FassDaActor says:

    Ok Jeremy, as(s) much as I wouldn’t mind the grope (my old school crush), You need to slow your roll on being proud to be a perv. Rubbing on a stranger’s butts is not considered ‘friendly’ to most pp. Keep going around touching butts and you might get shanked!

  18. RobN says:

    He wandered into creepy perv territory a long time ago.

  19. Chordy says:

    And this is why he was so amazing as Humbert Humbert. Literally nobody could have played a rapey-ass rapist any better.

  20. RHONYC says:

    his creep factor just shot through the f*cking roof. :mad:

  21. Layna says:

    Him and his wife seem to have an open marriage. Sometimes I wonder if he simply married his wife for status, when he talks about her all he ever mentions is that she is from a great acting family blah blah. It’s never “she is a wonder,kind person…”

    I don’t agree with what he says- perv. But at least he is honest about the marriage part. So many celebs go about acting like their marriages are perfect while they are cheating all over the place. He just strikes me as a grumpy, pervy old man who says what ever he thinks,

  22. KellyinSeattle says:

    Wow, good timing for me. I just now ended a friendship w/ a guy to grabs my tits and cuchie all the time. Couldn’t take it anymore.

  23. Christina says:

    ”His marriage – it sounds like he just does whatever he wants. I guess he thinks that his wife will never divorce him. ”

    Not sure if that’s a correct analysis.

    Jeremy and Sinead have long been rumoured to have an ‘unconventional relationship’ – he has called it ‘dysfunctional’. They appear to have one of the few genuinely ‘open marriages’ – when I say genuine, I mean that BOTH parties screw around – it’s not just a licence for the man to have his cake and eat it while the woman grudgingly accepts it, which is what many showbiz ‘open marriages’ really are. Sinead ran off with another man shortly after their wedding in 1978 and has been rumoured to have numerous dalliances, including with the playwright Tom Stoppard. So she’s far from the little wifey sitting at home and turning a blind eye to her husband’s affairs.

    These days, they spend a lot of time apart and he has been open about how difficult marriage is. And yet, they are still together after 35 years, when so many showbiz marriages barely make their first anniversary. So while their ‘arrangement’ wouldn’t work for me, it seems to work for them.

  24. Hmmm says:

    Amazing how puerile he is. He should have to wear a sign.

  25. Christina says:

    BTW am I the only here who’s amazed that he’s only 64? Think about it. He’s only 4 years older than Liam Neeson and two years YOUNGER than Alan Rickman, both of whom are still pretty attractive. He is NOT ageing well at all. He looks ancient.

    • Layna says:

      Because he smokes like a chimney. He has admitted it himself.

      • Christina says:

        That’s part of it, no doubt. But I think there’s also the fact that he dresses in a kind of shabby country gentleman sort of style, which is quite ageing. Also, he’s always been extremely thin, even gaunt. That gave him that beautiful sculpted face when he was younger, but now it just makes him look haggard. He still has that gorgeous voice though. At least that part of him hasn’t aged.

    • Lisa says:

      Alan Rickman didn’t age so well, if you think of how he looked in the late 80s and early 90s. I love the man and his voice, but he got fat after 1994. Then he was in weird Dark Harbour… And An Awfully Big Adventure, which was vaguely Lolita-ish.

      So much respect for keeping his private life actually private, though, and being with Rima Horton for as long as he has. :)

  26. Gemini08 says:

    Why do people think that Sinead is somehow a victim in this marriage?? She is a grown woman who seems fully capable of deciding what does and doesn’t work for her. They have been married for 34 years. If she truly had an issue with an open marriage I think she would have left by now. Whose to say that she doesn’t have lovers as well??

    • Christina says:

      She does – or at least that’s what all the rumours have said for years. See my post above: theirs appears to be a genuine ‘open marriage’ in that BOTH get to screw around, not just the man. Not a conventional set-up, but then, they’re not conventional people and they both seem happy enough with the situation so, whatevah.

  27. Lisa says:

    So much ick with him. He and Alan Rickman were like, my sex gods when I was in high school. Guess it’s just Alan for me now!

  28. JC says:

    There has never, ever been an actor in a movie role that did it for me like he did in Lolita. It was a by-the-book brilliant adaptation. And he was one sexy motherf*cker.

    • Lisa says:

      I hate hearing this about Jeremy when I think of him during the screen test with Dominique (it’s on the DVD extras). It was the scene where he slapped her, and after he did it, he cupped her cheek and asked she was okay. He kept asking how she was doing with every scene. I mean, I know the director was there so he probably felt he had to, haha, but I’ll always remember that.

  29. fritanga says:

    Ah, another withered old guy who doesn’t understand why women don’t find him devastatingly attractive anymore. You can tell that he still thinks he’s all that by the leather pants and “dashing” boots.

    What an ass. He’s now officially in the same class as Woody Allen, Ethan Hawke, and the late Robert Altman, all of whom think women actually liked them for something other than their money.

  30. telesma says:

    He’s a great actor, but he’s been a bit of a freakazoid for as long as I can remember.

  31. sauvage says:

    When I want to be “friendly” towards strangers, I let them cut in line. I smile at them. I CERTAINLY DON’T GROPE THEM!

  32. Christina says:

    I would let him touch me till the end of time. I adore him!