Inside Law and Order: SVU with Jeremy Irons and Neal Baer – The Deadbolt Interview

by Reg Seeton

January 12, 2011

Although Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons is best known for his work in film and on the stage, Irons makes a rare appearance on television on Wednesday, January 12 at 10pm on Law & Order: SVU in the deviant role of a sextherapist with a sordid past filled with alcohol and sexual addiction. It’ a role for Jeremy Irons that challenges the award winning actor in new ways given how Irons has rarely worked in series TV. Also guest starring along with Jeremy Irons as his character’s daughter is former Criminal Minds actress A.J. Cook who discovers her partner being raped by a man wearing a haunting mask.

Ahead of the highly anticipated appearance by Jeremy Irons on Law & Order: SVU, TheDeadbolt spoke briefly with both Irons and SVU executive producer Neal Baer to learn more about how Jeremy Irons loves to play against what’s expected and how Baer worked with Irons to play to his strengths as an actor.

THE DEADBOLT: Some people may not expect to see you on Law & Order: SVU. How has going against what is expected contributed to your identity as both a person and an actor?

JEREMY IRONS: You know, one has to work within the parameters of the opportunities that are offered as an actor. But I always try to put my foot, so to speak, where it’s not expected as I walk along my career, and that is not easy to do. But it in a way gives me great enjoyment doing new things and getting into areas that are maybe unexpected for the audience.

I suspect they also give the audience a bit of pleasure because I can only be me and play the character I can play. But at least if I’m doing it in a way and in places which are unexpected, it will give them a little bit of fun and give me a little fun.

THE DEADBOLT: Neal, can you talk both about how you worked together so the character fit Jeremy’s style and strengths as an actor?

NEAL BAER: We wanted Jeremy on the show because we’re so respectful of his talent. What’s really interesting is that when you see him, he fits into the show quite well yet there’s something about him that – and this is what I think separates the great actors from actors – you want to know him.

So the moment he steps on to the screen, you want to know who this character is. That’s the talent of great actors. So he brings to the show this intensity. That is very alluring, I think, to an audience and that’s what we wanted. Certainly that’s what Jeremy gives in this performance.

It’s a very interesting performance because, as he was alluding to, his character is not just one sided. It’s a very multi-dimensional character who is struggling with some real fierce emotional issues that he’s able to bring to the surface in a way we can all identify with. Secrets that we have that we don’t know how to deal with, and things like that.

That’s the gift that actors give to us. They allow us to see the kinds of daily struggles we all have and yet they can play them before us. That’s what draws us to them. So he does that in the show in such a way that even though there are things about him you won’t like, you still empathize for what he’s been through.