Being a "Tudors" king changed Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Fri Apr 9, 2010 9:07pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - He might have been just another young Hollywood actor on the rise, but Jonathan Rhys Meyers chose to become a king -- on TV. And doing so, the actor said, changed his life.

Four years ago, Rhys Meyers was coming off an Emmy nomination and a Golden Globe win for playing Elvis Presley, and he had wowed audiences in Woody Allen's "Match Point" and worked opposite Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible III."

He was among the hottest young actors in Hollywood, but the Irish-born Rhys Meyers traded his Tinseltown calling card to move to play King Henry VIII in Showtime drama "The Tudors." Initially, Rhys Meyers thought the role might last only a year. He was wrong.

The show debuts its fourth and final season on Sunday, as King Henry, by now in his late 40s, battles illness, takes his country to battle and, of course, marries and remarries.

The role has earned Rhys Meyers two Golden Globe nominations, and while he told Reuters it is now time to move on, he also said the part made him a wiser and better actor.

"I've changed. My concepts have changed. Everything I've done up until now has been an apprenticeship," he said. "Now, I think, at 32 years old, I've garnered enough experience to know what I don't want. Now, I know what I do want."

What Rhys Meyers wants, he said, is to work with directors who will challenge him, confront him when he's not getting a role right, and always push him to be a better actor.

He said directors with whom he has worked in the past, such as Allen, Ang Lee and Robert Altman, have done just that, and the role of King Henry has only strengthened his abilities because of the many facets of the character.   Continued...

<p>Actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers arrives at the premiere of "From Paris With Love" in Paris, February 11, 2010. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>