Dashing and handsome, this stage-trained Brit appeared in myriad theater productions and TV shows in his homeland before making a splash stateside in the imported BBC miniseries Brideshead Revisited. As the narrator of this saga of two very close Oxford friends, Irons showcased his plumy timbre and palpable sex appeal. Hollywood quickly came calling and cast him in another romantic tale, The French Lieutenant's Woman, opposite Meryl Streep. During the '80s, he essayed offbeat roles in a diverse roster of films but took time out to return to the stage, notably opposite Glenn Close in The Real Thing on Broadway, which snagged Tony Awards for both actors in 1984. Six years later, the two reteamed for what would prove to be Irons' true breakthrough, Reversal of Fortune, based on the real-life case of lothario Claus von Bulow, who was accused of murdering his troubled society wife, Sunny. Irons took home a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his chilling yet charming performance. Throughout the '90s, Irons alternated between the stage and the screen, most notably with his villainous vocal turn in the animated blockbuster The Lion King. He continued to shine in art-house films and TV-movies, such as his supporting turn as a royal lover in the 2006 TV biopic Elizabeth I, which earned him Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Awards. Married since 1978 to celebrated Irish actress Sinead Cusack, the couple remains together with their two sons, and have even collaborated on a number of projects.
- While performing in the '70s rock musical Godspell on London's West End, he met his second wife, Irish actress Sinead Cusack, who was starring in a show across the way.
- Was a regular on the British children's program Playaway.
- Directed the music video for Carly Simon's 1985 single "Tired of Being Blonde."
- Named Best Actor in 1988 by the New York Film Critics Circle for his performance as twin doctors in Dead Ringers.
- As host of the 1991 Tony Awards, was among the first public figures to appear on TV wearing a red ribbon for AIDS awareness.
- Owns Kilcoe Castle in Ireland and caused an uproar when he had the castle painted pink in 2001.
- Won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for his role as the Earl of Leicester in 2005's Elizabeth I.
- 2006, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Winner
- 1991, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Winner
- 1987, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Nominee
- 1983, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 2009, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
- 1997, Emmy — Outstanding Voice-Over Performance: Winner
- 1990, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Winner
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- 1989, Genie Awards — Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Winner
- 1982, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Special: Nominee
- 1984, Tony — Actor (Play): Winner
- 1982, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Actor: Nominee
- 2012, Independent Spirit Awards — Robert Altman Award: Winner
- 2006, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Winner
- 2010, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 2012, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama: Nominee
- 2014, Emmy — Outstanding Narrator: Winner
- 2013, Taormina Film Fest — Taormina Arte Award: Winner
- 2013, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Nominee
- Barbara Anne Sharpe — Mother
- Maximilian Paul Irons — Son
- Julie Hallam — Ex-wife
- Paul Dugan Irons — Father
- Samuel Irons — Son
- Sinead Cusack — Wife
- Bristol Old Vic Theater School, Bristol, England (1968)