You have to “sell your soul” to win an Oscar these days, according to the multi award-winning Batman V Superman actor Jeremy Irons.
Remembering the Academy Award he won in 1991 for his performance in Reversal Of Fortune, he told Bafta’s Life In Pictures event: “It’s never about how good you actually are but about whether it’s your time.
“But nowadays you have to sell your soul for it, fly around everywhere and buy everyone flowers.”
The 67-year-old said he never expected his role in the film – based on the true story of Claus von Bulow, who in 1979 was accused of attempting to murder his wife Sunny – would represent “his time” and was shocked to receive the award.
“I was at the ceremony practising my losing face,” he said. “When my name was called out I thought I had heard it wrong.
“I kissed everyone in sight, including Madonna, who I didn’t even know, and I tried to get at Michael Jackson but couldn’t reach.”
He was given the award for his portrayal of von Bulow, who he actually met. “There was something very exciting about having a possible murderer over for dinner,” he said.
Jeremy’s comments came as he spoke to fans about his life and career at Bafta headquarters in central London.
As well as recounting his prouder moments, he sent the audience into fits of laughter as he revealed his less impressive experience providing the voice of the evil lion Scar in Disney’s 1994 hit The Lion King.
“I always thought when you do voice-over acting you watch the film and talk along to the animation’s moving mouth,” he said.
“But when I got there I just had a storyboard to look at and a rough idea of the lines, so I was expected to play around and come up with words while the animators sketched me, the writers took down lines they liked and cameramen filmed.
“When I saw the final result I was horrified to see this scrawny hunched old lion next to James Earl Jones’s muscular and proud Mufasa.
“I realised this must be how I came across,” he joked, “and I was very hurt.”
Born in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Irons trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
He was best known for his West End appearances in a number of Shakespeare plays before making his film debut in 1981 romantic drama The French Lieutenant’s Woman, in which he starred alongside Meryl Streep.
Since then he has starred in films such as Lolita (1997), Dungeons And Dragons (2000), and this year’s releases The Man Who Knew Infinity and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.
He is also a familiar face on television, having appeared in ITV’s Brideshead Revisited series in 1981, and more recently starring as Pope Alexander VI in the Showtime historical series The Borgias between 2011 and 2013.