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 I (Ivan Grozniy) (1944) 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 (Shichinin no Samurai) (1956) 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 (Ladri di biciclette) (The Bicycle Thief) (1949) 98%

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

Rock Turner Classic Movies YA Travel Channel Drama Podcast Amazon Prime Video VICE composers serial killer Captain marvel Interview Lionsgate witnail docudrama DC Comics Best and Worst Television Critics Association TLC vampires comedies archives award winner Mindy Kaling Netflix Christmas movies Women's History Month child's play japanese YouTube Red 21st Century Fox Nominations comic christmas movies jamie lee curtis Pop TV Film Festival Thanksgiving football SXSW Family Sundance Video Games ITV X-Men Dark Horse Comics Chilling Adventures of Sabrina WGN Turner transformers Classic Film Tomatazos TV Land Crunchyroll worst Animation TCA Pixar Box Office spanish language Academy Awards San Diego Comic-Con 2016 zombie Teen hollywood reboot SDCC stop motion CMT talk show versus NYCC 2018 BBC America parents Amazon Prime science fiction police drama Chernobyl french Mary Poppins Returns Superheroe The Purge zombies Marvel Studios Disney+ Disney Plus Biopics dogs classics book joker Pride Month TCA Awards Red Carpet Black History Month MSNBC CNN Spectrum Originals PaleyFest news New York Comic Con Musicals comics 24 frames teaser Musical Syfy Fall TV Ghostbusters space documentary BET Awards FOX Reality twilight latino Super Bowl Comedy Central discovery Calendar screen actors guild south america all-time DC Universe period drama National Geographic Winners Amazon Studios Mudbound chucky streaming sports Paramount Network aliens Mary poppins quibi golden globes IFC Films renewed TV shows kids Universal hispanic Writers Guild of America what to watch romantic comedy satire Endgame Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reviews Spike a nightmare on elm street movies slashers worst movies Columbia Pictures casting cats Premiere Dates Cosplay Certified Fresh DC streaming service TBS Hallmark Christmas movies The Witch HBO Go Hulu Freeform 71st Emmy Awards 4/20 dramedy Sundance Now 2020 Crackle OWN Lifetime best Heroines dceu Baby Yoda political drama festival sequel Toys directors asian-american HBO Max Hear Us Out OneApp Britbox thriller breaking bad Holidays GLAAD See It Skip It Countdown Disney Plus ABC toronto Reality Competition Ellie Kemper free movies IFC FXX cancelled TV series Esquire series universal monsters Rocky fast and furious USA Network dc rotten Grammys TCM Winter TV politics Pirates travel indiana jones Cannes Black Mirror Warner Bros. ratings halloween Elton John game of thrones The Arrangement crime thriller Comic Book Awards Tour BET romance Binge Guide Song of Ice and Fire Apple comiccon spider-man FX ABC Family stoner Emmy Nominations 2015 Character Guide Vudu ESPN Netflix History revenge Masterpiece BAFTA video on demand Horror Mystery mockumentary boxoffice laika cartoon Mary Tyler Moore hist die hard Discovery Channel superhero Christmas italian LGBT Nickelodeon Peacock Fantasy canceled TV shows green book Kids & Family black spanish social media crime First Reviews The Academy nature name the review First Look critics justice league mutant festivals Extras ghosts adventure comic books Quiz cinemax A24 45 cars Awards war venice animated MCU E! FX on Hulu diversity cops USA mission: impossible Arrowverse werewolf GIFs BBC obituary Walt Disney Pictures Bravo The Walking Dead Adult Swim Martial Arts Trivia elevated horror RT History CW Seed Cartoon Network 007 Film sag awards American Society of Cinematographers natural history video Avengers scorecard BBC One Fox News indie based on movie 2017 spain remakes supernatural Comics on TV Tumblr spy thriller nbcuniversal ID Hallmark Epix stand-up comedy Shondaland franchise Paramount Apple TV+ Fox Searchlight australia psycho A&E Anna Paquin Starz robots binge Marvel Tarantino miniseries Set visit Year in Review foreign WarnerMedia President Western Summer doctor who historical drama sitcom anime criterion Trailer crime drama Opinion Polls and Games strong female leads Funimation cancelled TV shows biography Apple TV Plus Trophy Talk Spring TV spinoff Sundance TV Sci-Fi Food Network children's TV dark Brie Larson AMC facebook Election Acorn TV PlayStation 2019 game show RT21 LGBTQ Marathons Valentine's Day batman nfl Logo Lucasfilm VOD DGA theme song psychological thriller halloween tv YouTube Premium Shudder tv talk El Rey finale YouTube Star Trek blaxploitation toy story Pop Action TIFF films Tubi Holiday scary movies blockbuster E3 independent APB Infographic emmy awards TV renewals 20th Century Fox Nat Geo Television Academy Sneak Peek 72 Emmy Awards richard e. Grant Schedule Photos Showtime Marvel Television disaster TV HBO anthology The CW sequels MTV Watching Series Emmys TNT adaptation true crime singing competition Amazon cooking PBS Disney Music CBS All Access Comedy Pet Sematary Country zero dark thirty TCA Winter 2020 medical drama rotten movies we love Disney Channel TCA 2017 crossover Star Wars unscripted SundanceTV Lifetime Christmas movies movie harry potter concert cancelled television Oscars cults cancelled documentaries TruTV screenings Stephen King Superheroes DirecTV television NBC VH1 Disney streaming service CBS canceled Creative Arts Emmys Rom-Com dragons Rocketman technology GoT Ovation Sony Pictures