I can honestly say that by my criteria Jeremy Irons is absolutely among the top 3 best actors. I’ve seen all of his movies but I’ve never seen him on stage. And exactly theatre is the precise measurer of an actor’s qualities. Everything “shows up” there, and it gets clear if you have the energy for the stage, if you can really act, if you can make a deep contact with the audience, if people really like you, if you are emotional.
One day, while browsing through Instagram, I saw a photo of Jeremy Irons from production rehearsal in Bristol. An hour later I already had tickets for the show, and another 15 minutes later – a plane ticket to England. The plan was clear – I was going to see one of my idols, in the “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”. The production celebrated the 250th anniversary of “Bristol Old Vic” theatre. For years I’ve been seeing productions in London, but there wasn’t any with Jeremy Irons. The excitement was indescribable.
Here came the cherished day – 4th April 2016. While travelling to Bristol I was already planning how to get an autograph from him, and if I could take a photo with him it would be just great! When I got to the theatre I asked around where is the service entrance, because usually after performance the actors leave through there. Everything was inquired and planned. I was going to peacefully watch the performance. The building of the “Bristol Old Vic” is extraordinary, with a smell of an old theatre, with history, and lots of sheltered emotions.
The moment Jeremy Irons appeared on the stage came. I can say only this – when an actor is a star of this magnitude, it is not a coincidence. To be such a great actor you have to have many qualities. More than the just good actors. And he really is great, times better than the other actors on the stage with him. They were good, he was outstanding. It was enormous pleasure to watch him. Though, I couldn’t watch with the eyes of an ordinary member of the audience, because I wanted to “study” him professionally. I wanted to learn how he acts, is his voice strong, is he emotional, will he go all the way with the emotions or will he act them out technically, how is the audience watching him, how does he feel the audience, does he allow himself to flirt with the audience… For those three hours I got convinced Jeremy Irons is divinely talented and very charismatic actor. And it was an enormous pleasure to watch him, to “study” him, to be a part of all this.
After the end of the “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” my desire to have a memory of this day was even stronger. A staff person told me that Jeremy will leave through the public entrance, not the service entrance. I didn’t believe him and I was almost leaving when he appeared exactly there. He gave the impression of a modest man. I stopped him, though terribly ashamed, and told him I like him a lot and asked for an autograph on the booklet of the production. He took it and asked if I knew the play. I said I knew it because I’m an actor. And then a real conversation about theatre started. He asked questions with real curiosity. He asked me about theatre in Bulgaria, my parts, the productions I play in. And despite my huge nervousness and not so good English, I was over the moon that a dream of mine came true. I asked him for a photo as a memento. At the end he told me something incredible: “You know, Vladimir Karamazov, I am sure that very soon I will be sitting in the audience and will be watching you act on the stage. And after that I will come to take a photo with you!”
All my life I will remember this meeting, this moment of supreme happiness. I learned something really important from Jeremy Irons – a good actor has to be a good person as well. I will always strive to be a good person!