Five Favorite Films

Jonathan Rhys Meyers' Five Favorite Films

by | May 25, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors, Bend It Like Beckham, Mission Impossible III, Dracula) stars opposite Antonio Banderas this week in Black Butterfly, a deliciously warped, twisty tale of terror. The star took a few moments out of his hectic schedule to discuss movies with us: his own Five Favorite Films. And then we got to ask him about his favorite twisty film as well. See the full list here:

The Great Beauty (2013) 91%

Let’s start with the most modern one, I suppose. La Grande Bellezza [aka] The Great Beauty. Paolo Sorrentino‘s movie. There’s a million different reasons. I think it’s the elegance of Toni Servillo‘s character. I think he’s almost like Dante going through the three stages of Paradiso, Inferno, Purgatorio. I used to live in Rome, so it’s a beautiful imagination of what Rome is. It’s the furious bacchanal element of the night life. The overzealous, religious conservatism of the daytime. It’s so beautifully done, and it’s elegant and dangerous. It’s intellectual. And buffoonish in all in the same breath. It’s an incredible movie. He’s a wonderful director.

Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1943) 100%

Ivan the Terrible, Part 1. Sergei M. Eisenstein. Mainly because he shot it during the middle of the second world war, and he had thousands of extras to choose from. It was one of those movies made during, of course, the second world war. Stalin had absolute power, which means that they could literally do anything with this production. Their production was epic on a scale that’s never been seen before because they were using — sort of very freely — prisoners of war for these big scenes. But the end result is the film is an extraordinary interpretation of what Ivan the Terrible, Part 1, is. It’s extraordinary for a myriad of different reasons, but one of those reasons is it was made during the second world war, and you can see aspects of it that we don’t really see about the world at that time. Do you know what I mean?

Eisenstein was very cleverly able to mirror Stalin, mirror Hitler, within the confines of that film — disguising it, of course,as Russian folklore to get the movie made. In fact, he probably sold it to Stalin like, “You are as great as Ivan the Terrible was!”Of course he was, but terrible also. It was a great way of being able to reflect the politics, the situation of Europe, the situation of the world at that time within the confines of the film. It’s a great film. Magnificent. His use of individualizing on individual characters is mind blowing. I’m sure every great director has studied it for weeks and weeks, months and months at a time in their lives.

Seven Samurai (1954) 100%

For a myriad of different reasons. It’s the ultimate group of lawless action buddy movies. They have all spawned from this. Every sort of two handed buddy movie as The A-Team and — it all comes from this one film: Seven Samurai. It gave Hollywood a genre. Not only did it influence the western genre very obviously, with Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, but every genre of outsider, loner, anti-hero. The character played by Toshiro Mifune, that’s the quintessential character in Hollywood. You’ve seen it played by Montgomery Clift. You’ve seen it played by James Dean, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro. They’ve all been influenced in some way by that one character that appears in the Seven Samurai. The wildness. The gregariousness. The mad genius. The outsider. The survivor. Of course, you know the film is an incredibly, beautifully shot film. Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest writers of all time. It speaks for itself.

I’ve seen it well over a hundred times. But years ago. 20 years ago — possibly the first. Maybe even 25 years ago was the first time I saw it. An extraordinary movie.

Bicycle Thieves (1948) 99%

The Bicycle Thieves is extraordinary for the technique that the director uses to stage a street-life opera; [it’s] quite extraordinary. The stealing of the protagonist’s bicycle – that whole segment lasts 15 minutes, possibly 20 minutes. The guy has created a street opera including cars, roundabouts, work men, traffic — everything moves with such ease, with such flow. It’s like watching a painting being painted in front of you by Picasso. It’s an extraordinary way to open a film that is also an extraordinary vision of a director being able to conduct almost like a conductor with an orchestra. Just a piece of solid, 20 minute music. Almost like Mozart used to do where it’s just pure music for 10 minutes. This is pure cinema for the first 20 minutes. Pure cinema.

Then it gets into the scene where the guy tries to recover his bicycle and is just driving through Milan trying to do this. But that first 20 minutes — that first opening is operatic. It’s incredibly beautiful and that makes it one of my favorite films.

The Lion in Winter (1968) 90%

Personal favorite, this is. It may not be a favorite of a lot of people, and I have loads more favorites, but for more the banter and the performance I would have to say it would be the original version of The Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Just to see the two of them go picnicking on each other. There are other wonderful performances in it and [it was] shot in Ardmore Studios in Ireland. Of course, to have some of the back splash story as well, because I’ve heard from people there O’Toole wouldn’t turn up for hours, and then he’d turn up with a case of champagne. He was always sort of rooting for Katharine Hepburn, who was of course incredibly stiff and elegant and posed about it all.

Of course, I worked with Anthony Hopkins as well, who told me a bunch of stories about it. If O’Toole didn’t turn up, Hopkins used to play O’Toole’s part off camera lines. But Hopkins was so good at it [laughing]. I wonder if O’Toole caught him!. Terrible — it was like — that was the film where, at the end of the film, Katharine Hepburn turned around to Peter O’Toole and said, “When I first went into this business, my agent told me never to work with children or animals, and you, Peter, are both.”


Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: Black Butterfly is full of twists. Is there another film like it that you can think of? One that really sticks with you?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers: Oh, yeah. Of course. It’s Plein Soleil, the original version of Talented Mr. Ripley. Alain Delon, who was more handsome or beautiful than any actor. It was incredible, that original movie. The original version of [writer] Patricia Highsmith. I respect Anthony Minghella‘s The Talented Mr. Ripley as well, but the original is — there was a tension there that was extraordinary.


Black Butterfly opens Friday, May 26 in limited release and On Demand.

Tag Cloud

Women's History Month The Walking Dead 72 Emmy Awards Pirates Mary Poppins Returns MGM green book Certified Fresh based on movie Nominations CNN Adult Swim Holiday game of thrones streaming movies USA Network suspense marvel cinematic universe Masterpiece Captain marvel harry potter Fargo police drama mcc Warner Bros. 73rd Emmy Awards Musical witnail trailers Food Network MTV Tarantino BET composers USA DC Comics james bond dreamworks archives Superheroes Grammys comiccon Mudbound romantic comedy WGN south america Lionsgate movies The Arrangement Baby Yoda Native ID Acorn TV Elton John Tumblr Marathons APB Red Carpet Action book adaptation cars TruTV Sundance TV Funimation Netflix Christmas movies Dark Horse Comics Infographic comic book movie reviews Reality Competition Tokyo Olympics Rocketman obi wan travel TV Land Marvel Studios Shondaland stop motion young adult zombie concert television Box Office canceled Paramount political drama ITV toronto adaptation crossover Disney+ Disney Plus cancelled TV series E! hist ViacomCBS films 21st Century Fox nbcuniversal El Rey quibi obituary richard e. Grant Film Rock Best Picture mob 24 frames elevated horror ghosts docudrama animated Star Trek TCM blockbusters kaiju YouTube CMT children's TV rt labs critics edition Oscars San Diego Comic-Con versus adenture rt archives Cosplay unscripted Family Classic Film Character Guide dramedy TCA cops classics Winners Nat Geo Apple Reality universal monsters marvel comics debate trophy Hollywood Foreign Press Association Avengers The CW kong zero dark thirty justice league The Witch AMC Plus Best Actress SXSW 2022 Ellie Kemper Holidays Valentine's Day Crackle chucky screen actors guild revenge Writers Guild of America dark psychological thriller emmy awards sag awards game show Rom-Com Music Mystery TBS VH1 breaking bad Animation saw Trophy Talk Sony Pictures Video Games franchise 1990s indie movie Chernobyl Mary poppins scene in color film series joker remakes E3 comedies Watching Series Apple TV Plus GoT Best Director golden globe awards Mary Tyler Moore Quiz new star wars movies IFC child's play Vudu halloween tv DirecTV NBA IMDb TV Awards Thanksgiving RT History black teaser twilight Turner Classic Movies Amazon Studios TV movies ABC scary movies foreign sequel venice Star Wars interviews Disney Channel FX dexter deadpool Pacific Islander Christmas Paramount Pictures singing competition cinemax know your critic reboot Lucasfilm japan kids BBC summer TV preview Binge Guide worst Paramount Plus all-time Tags: Comedy Drama criterion renewed TV shows spinoff spanish language ABC Family action-comedy facebook Chilling Adventures of Sabrina screenings Spring TV History Sundance rotten 007 Cartoon Network spanish Brie Larson Netflix TV One Broadway superhero SDCC Horror TV renewals football scary serial killer Peacock Prime Video king kong 4/20 science fiction Interview The Academy black comedy sports Exclusive Video Television Critics Association spain YA dc AMC TCA Awards Paramount Network Winter TV dceu worst movies Starz posters comic books 2017 Instagram Live indiana jones Esquire Legendary Columbia Pictures tv talk video 2018 zombies Country Spike FXX 2021 Superheroe Awards Tour WarnerMedia legend Rocky Indigenous asian-american what to watch adventure romance FOX OneApp italian American Society of Cinematographers Comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Pop TV award winner Britbox 45 Crunchyroll Film Festival fast and furious historical drama canceled TV shows ratings Alien Image Comics mutant Shudder book Election toy story Apple TV+ critic resources 2015 Universal 90s slasher Disney DC Universe CBS All Access GIFs series true crime ABC Signature First Reviews name the review biopic international streaming Hulu TCA Winter 2020 Pixar HBO Max a nightmare on elm street royal family Spectrum Originals Super Bowl Opinion Turner 2016 spy thriller spider-verse Fall TV crime drama Star Wars Celebration Calendar Bravo rom-coms Emmys The Purge SundanceTV Amazon Prime Arrowverse sequels 20th Century Fox rotten movies we love Song of Ice and Fire BAFTA HBO Pride Month mission: impossible blaxploitation PlayStation critics anthology telelvision robots basketball Tubi Musicals Martial Arts Creative Arts Emmys popular disaster natural history Stephen King festivals superman Sci-Fi aapi Sundance Now Lifetime french war Focus Features aliens SXSW discovery TLC Disney streaming service VOD strong female leads technology Travel Channel comics christmas movies NYCC New York Comic Con LGBT razzies X-Men 93rd Oscars slashers Fox Searchlight VICE hollywood halloween art house Marvel Television Marvel festival Academy Awards hispanic leaderboard Biopics Hallmark Christmas movies die hard news pirates of the caribbean Black Mirror Ghostbusters Showtime YouTube Red binge lord of the rings Mindy Kaling prank gangster cooking Walt Disney Pictures IFC Films Universal Pictures Comics on TV psycho independent National Geographic Fantasy blockbuster MCU spider-man Set visit Hear Us Out PBS stand-up comedy cartoon stoner PaleyFest Tomatazos golden globes Black History Month nfl docuseries Cannes live event jurassic park TCA 2017 Geeked Week Epix rt labs Kids & Family Teen monster movies free movies HFPA Freeform dragons Comic Book live action Syfy cancelled television transformers Ovation Trailer Amazon CW Seed Comedy Central hidden camera MSNBC anime new york diversity heist movie thriller japanese Sony Western Countdown satire batman Sneak Peek Wes Anderson olympics DGA feel good See It Skip It parents 94th Oscars boxoffice 71st Emmy Awards Oscar cults Summer South by Southwest Film Festival Pet Sematary Disney Plus A24 summer preview Fox News CBS Television Academy medical drama comic book movies Toys crime Year in Review vampires 2019 finale talk show fresh high school TNT target scene in color target video on demand jamie lee curtis BBC One mockumentary scene in color series 99% women supernatural Podcast wonder woman A&E werewolf genre NBC Trivia FX on Hulu sitcom Anna Paquin period drama Nickelodeon scene in color godzilla documentaries Hallmark nature RT21 biography TIFF Polls and Games Pop miniseries Logo OWN boxing casting cancelled king arthur LGBTQ space summer TV scorecard 2020 TV Schedule First Look directors latino DC streaming service Heroines Discovery Channel Emmy Nominations cancelled TV shows Extras crime thriller Best Actor Photos HBO Go The Walt Disney Company sopranos 79th Golden Globes Awards Premiere Dates dogs Endgame vs. Neflix theme song best YouTube Premium new zealand Comic-Con@Home 2021 doctor who cats broadcast BBC America 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Amazon Prime Video President BET Awards GLAAD Lifetime Christmas movies streamig ESPN hispanic heritage month Best and Worst comic politics australia social media documentary laika