Jonathan Rhys Meyers has played his fair share of historical figures — from King Henry VIII to Elvis Presley — but if he could pick one real person to portray, it would be playwright Eugene O’Neill. Why? Because of O’Neill’s stance on second chances.
“I would love to play Eugene O’Neill, the playwright who wrote A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, because he’d gone through an awful lot of things in his life. Personal things,” the actor told Build Studio in an interview last week. Rhys Meyers’s desire to play O’Neill may come from his ability to relate to him; his personal problems have been put on blast recently after a very public feud on a flight with his wife and child. “He created problems for himself that God did not create for him,” he said of O’Neill.
Rhys Meyers has struggled with alcoholism and anger, both of which were triggered two weeks ago on a flight from Peru to Los Angeles.
“Last week on a plane back from Peru, after eight months of sobriety, I decided to have a few drinks,” the Damascus Cover star revealed to the Daily Mail last week. “My wife was upset at me, and I learned my lesson. I got off the airplane, went straight back to my meetings, and got sober immediately.” His wife, Mara Lane Rhys Meyers, also said that he got angry over having to put out his e-cigarette while in the air. “Thank you for your compassion on this ongoing battle with addiction we are in,” she wrote on Instagram.
What Rhys Meyers admires about O’Neill is his commitment to trying again. “He went and he had a rebirth, and he says in the book A Long Day’s Journey Into Night … ‘I had two births, and the second one was the only one that I approved of,’” he said. Rhys Meyers knows nobody is perfect, but he believes everyone is capable of change. “And that’s something that’s really interesting … our ability as human beings to change, to take what we are, which is imperfect humans, and then we change with the process of life. And if we put effort into it then we can change into something that is truly, truly beautiful, truly peaceful.” While he did not mention the plane incident in the interview, it’s very possible he was referring to his own desire to transform into a more peaceful human being.
At least for now, he doesn’t want his son to be inspired by him. “I have a son, he’s 19 months old. Now, I learned very quickly once my son was born that my son does not belong to me, my son came through me,” he explained. “I can shelter his body, but I can’t give him my thoughts and I can’t give him my soul. God does not go backwards. God expands the same way as the universe expands.” Because we’re constantly moving forward, he doesn’t want his son to look back. “I would not like my son to be inspired by me, I’m inspired by my son.”
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