Thursday, September 28, 2023

Jeremy Irons

 A belated Happy Birthday to actor Jeremy Irons, who turned 75 on the 19th of this month.

Whenever he does a talk show to promote a recent role for a film or a TV project, he is still introduced to the audience as the voice of Scar. He offered me such a gift with his tremendous dialogue recordings for the character. Some scenes seemed to animate themselves, because of his high caliber of acting. Irons' performance didn't just make Scar evil, there is also intelligence as well as humor. Scar loved to to be bad.

Quite a few years after The Lion King had its amazing movie theatre run, I met up with producer Don Hahn at an English pub in Burbank for lunch. We were just catching up with each other, as we talked about the state of animation, future projects etc. Suddenly Jeremy Irons walks into the pub, grabs an ashtray and sits down at an outside table. He hadn't noticed us. 

We finished our lunch and were eager to say Hello. It turned out that Jeremy was studying a script with an acting partner that day. They were both going to perform in an upcoming production of Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl. So we all chatted a bit, when Jeremy came up with an interesting statement: "I must not have done a good job with Scar." Don and I looked at each other. "Of course you did, you were brilliant." His response was that ever since he had voiced Scar, there had not been any other offers for him to do an animated character. (Not just from Disney, from any studio!) He was definitely disappointed. 

I can't remember if it was Don or myself who explained to him that his voice had become so recognizable to millions of people, that any new animated role he would play would sound like Scar. That had to be the reason. I recall having watched a (gruesome) National Geographic documentary about a large pride of lions that specialized in hunting elephants. It was narrated by Irons, and sounded exactly like Scar was telling you the story about this unusual pride. 

So maybe Scar will remain his only animated role, who knows?