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

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