The week before my shoot with Jeremy Irons I had left a message on his mobile. A few days before the shoot he rang just as the assistants were unloading the car after another long days shoot. His dark velvet tones rang down the phone “Hello Clive my darling heart, it’s Jeremy Irons, I believe you are photographing me next week for the Sunday Times Magazine ”
I was taken aback for a moment but gathered myself and quickly replied “ Hi Mr. Irons” because I was still surprised to be speaking to him. “Please call me Jeremy” he interjected, I then said ‘Yes, we are shooting in the beautiful house on the top of Holland Park Hill, I’m so looking forward to meeting you, I am a fan” “Me too Clive, I love your work” he laughed.
My assistants and I arrived at this beautiful gated house in Holland Park; I introduced myself and my team to the lady housekeeper. We were ushered in while the assistants unloaded the equipment and the lights from the van. My stylist Marcella Martinelli brought a vast array of clothes that just seemed to appear. I heard the gates open outside and a motorcycle came into the yard. Oh, I thought that’s the lens I ordered.
I went outside and approached this rough and ready guy who was taking of his dark helmet with his back me. “Are you delivering my lens” The biker turned round and said; “No, I am Jeremy” he said as he turned to face me “ Hello Clive”. “Jeremy please hold it there a minute ”. I dashed back inside to grab a camera, as Jeremy was pulling off his gloves. “ Can I just take a shot of you with the bike” “Sure” he said “Helmet and an old BMW bike. They have offered me a new one, but I adore this one. The new ones have too man bells and whistles”. I took some images of him by the bike and we walked into the house.
Once inside Marcella the stylist introduced herself, she had a look of joyful awe on her face. “Would you like to come and look at some clothes?” “That sounds wonderful”, said Jeremy and glancing over his shoulder to me he said “See you soon”. Off they went to another part of the stunning house, which was filled with fine art pieces. I later found out that they actually lend some of the pieces to galleries and museums. Jeremy re-emerged from his styling session wearing and a claret silk jacket, carrying a book and an ashtray (for his beloved roll ups). He kicked of his shoes, leaned on the chair and just knew the camera. He was so at ease in front of the lens it was almost disarming, it was an absolute feast of a shoot.
I had so much fun with him and he was a total joy to work with, I’d place him in the same mold as Tony Curtis (another Hollywood great), certain people are just like diamonds in front of the lens. I was watching Jeremy recently being interviewed on CNN and it’s clear he is still as phenomenal. He is currently having a huge success with Eugene O’Neill’s “A Long Days Journey Into Night” with Lesley Manville, which unsurprisingly is already sold out, I’ve no doubt Jeremy’s performance is incredible.
I told Jeremy during the Holland Park shoot about my script about Leonardo Da Vinci (a black comedy) where Da Vinci returns via a time machine (that he invents) to assassinate most of the contemporary artists in the 20th century. The working title was Artistic Assassins. I was really surprised and delighted when I asked him to play the part of Leonardo and he agreed. Later when I was shooting the It’s Time To Free Tibet Shoot’ at the National Theatre (he was playing Harold Macmillan), he affectionately exclaimed “Clive, where’s my (expletive) script! I was so touched that he remembered.
- Clive Arrowsmith is still shooting stunning images, staging exhibitions and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here