Irvine in August 2011
July 1990 (age 24)
Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, England, United Kingdom
Jeremy Irvine (born Jeremy Smith; July 1990) is an English stage and screen actor. In late 2011, Irvine starred as the leading character in the epic war film War Horse directed by Steven Spielberg and based on an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's children's novel. War Horse was nominated for six Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and five BAFTAs. The movie became a box office success and turned Irvine into an overnight film star. He also earned widespread critical acclaim for his role in the independent film Now Is Good. This has led to critics listing him among Hollywood's fastest-rising stars. He received critical praise by earning a reputation as a method actor after he went for two months without food and by performing his own torture scene stunts in the film adaptation of The Railway Man.
In 2012, Irvine portrayed Pip in the adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, directed by Mike Newell, alongside Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter. In 2014, he starred in A Night in Old Mexico and the film adaptation of the novel The World Made Straight. He will star as Harry Burnstow in the 2015 film The Woman in Black: Angel of Death, and as Percy Bysshe Shelley in the upcoming biopic Mary Shelley's Monster.
Irvine was brought up in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire. His mother, Bridget, is a politician in local government, and his father, Chris Smith, is an engineer. Irvine also has a little brother, Toby Irvine, a child actor, who portrays the young Pip in Great Expectations. Irvine's stage name comes from his grandfather's first name. Irvine applied to the British Army at the age of nineteen, but was rejected after lying about his diabetes on his application.
Irvine started acting the age of sixteen. He played Romeo along with other main roles in plays whilst attending Bedford Modern School in the Harpur area of Bedfordshire, followed by the National Youth Theatre, and a one year foundation course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). After completing this course, Irvine spent two years posting CVs through letter boxes in an effort to get acting work. Irvine almost gave up acting for good just before he got his big break in War Horse. In an interview with CBS News while promoting Great Expectations, Irvine described this as the lowest point of his life and he considered taking a different career path: "I'd kind of hit rock bottom and really did think this was stupid and I just wasted three or four years of my life. My dad wanted me to get a job being a welder. At the company he was at, he was an engineer. I was very very close to doing that."
Irvine started off teaching at an acting school, though this company has since closed. Irvine played the role of Luke in the television series Life Bites and appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 2010-production of Dunsinane. Irvine was quoted in Interview Magazine saying: "My friends all took the mick out of me for Dunsinane saying, 'You're gonna be the tree'… Indeed, in my first scene, I was waving two branches."
In June 2010, Irvine was cast to play the lead character in the Steven Spielberg film War Horse, released in December 2011. The film was an adaption of Michael Morpurgo's novel, also entitled War Horse. Irvine was selected to play Albert Narracott, the main character, alongside other British actors, including Peter Mullan and Emily Watson – as Albert's father and mother, respectively. During production of the film, Irvine began to be represented by the Creative Artists Agency from July 2010, in addition to agents Hatton McEwan in the United Kingdom.
In 2010, director Steven Spielberg planned a film for War Horse, Michael Morpurgo's children's novel, and stated that he had been looking for an unknown actor to lead the role Albert Naracott, the main character; "I looked at hundreds of actors and newcomers for Albert – mainly newcomers – and nobody had the heart, the spirit or the communication skills that Jeremy had." Spielberg also said: "I am used to working with actors who have no experience. Just look back at the kids from E.T. like Drew Barrymore, and Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun, who'd never made a movie before. That career could be in store for Jeremy." The audition lasted for two months with Irvine auditioning several times a week.
Irvine was asked to read a section of the War Horse script on camera in order to check his West Country accent; the script was actually Albert telling Joey the horse that Steven Spielberg wanted him to play the part. In an attempt to prepare himself for the role of Albert, Irvine weight-trained extensively and gained approximately 14 pounds (6.4 kg) of muscle. He also underwent two months of intensive horse-riding training. Irvine spent so much time recreating the Battle of Somme scene in the film that he ended up contracting trench foot. For his work in War Horse, Irvine was nominated for London Film Critics' Choice Award for Young British Performer Of The Year and Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer.
In April 2011, Variety reported that Irvine had been cast to play the role of Pip in a Mike Newell film production of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, alongside Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. The film was released at the beginning of December 2012. In October 2011, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Irvine was to play the young Eric Lomax in the film production of The Railway Man, with Colin Firth playing the older Lomax.
In January 2013, Variety reported that Irvine was one of three candidates for the male lead character Tobias "Four" Eaton, for a film based on the novel Divergent, but lost out on the role to Theo James. In February 2013, Variety stated that Irvine had been cast for the film based on the novel The World Made Straight. Also in the later months of 2013, Irvine was cast as Daniel Grigori in the film Fallen, based on the young adult series. On August 12, 2014, Deadline reported that Irvine had been cast as Percy Bysshe Shelley in the upcoming biopic Mary Shelley's Monster. The film has been described as "a story of youth that transcends time, a gothic romance, a love triangle that involves a dark passenger", and also stars Taissa Farmiga and Sophie Turner.
Irvine has had diabetes mellitus type 1 since the age of six and was involved in trials with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to test an artificial pancreas; a form of automatic glucose meter attached to a portable insulin pump. The tests took place at Addenbrooke's Hospital with the University of Cambridge during 2005 and 2007.
Irvine introduced diabetes and his experiences to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the Cambridge Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility on 8 February 2012. Irvine was present again with the Duchess in on 31 January 2013 at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's inpatient adolescent ward, after she had become president of the JDRF in mid-2012.
Off-screen, Irvine avoids the media spotlight and tries to maintain privacy. He has been quoted as saying: "I realised very quickly that I didn't want to be famous, so I don't go to Mahiki, I just go down the pub with all my mates." When asked about his rising fame, he said: "When War Horse came out, I had maybe a month of people stopping me in the street, then it died down. I try to ignore all that and pretend none of it exists. We're only acting. The work my mum does, a lot of it is re-housing homeless people, that's a real job. I play make-believe and dressing up for a living!" In an interview with Daily Mail while promoting War Horse, Irvine described his ideal life: "There's nothing nicer than coming back to your village, where people like my mum's friends take the mick out of me. I prefer that to the craziness of Hollywood." He is also well known for turning down big teen franchise films and has been described as Hollywood's most wanted actor.
|2009||Life Bites||Luke||TV series; 12 episodes|
|2011||War Horse||Albert Narracott||Nominated – London Film Critics' Choice Award for Young British Performer of the Year
Nominated – Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
|2012||Now Is Good||Adam|
|2013||The Railway Man||Young Eric Lomax|
|2014||A Night in Old Mexico||Gally|
|2015||The World Made Straight||Travis Shelton|
|2015||The Woman in Black: Angel of Death||Harry Burnstow||Filming|
|2015||Mary Shelley's Monster||Percy Bysshe Shelley||Pre-production|
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