Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. He visited mainland England only once a year. He wound up being grounded when his family settled down in Hertfordshire. At the age of 13 he enrolled in Sherborne School, Dorset, where he could practice his favorite sport, horse-riding. Before becoming an actor, he had considered a veterinarian surgeon's career.
He trained at the Bristol Old Vic School for two years, then joined Bristol Old Vic repertory company where he gained experience working in everything from Shakespeare to contemporary dramas. He moved to London in 1971 and had a number of jobs before landing the role of "John the Baptist" in the hit musical "Godspell". He went on to have a successful early career in the West End theatre and on TV, and debuted on-screen in Nijinsky (1980). In the early 80s, he gained international attention with his starring role in the Granada Television serial adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel Brideshead Revisited (1981), after which he was much in demand as a romantic leading man. He went on to a steady film career. In 1984, he debuted on Broadway opposite: Glenn Close in Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing" and, in the mid-80s, he appeared in three lead roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Once described as 'the thinking woman's pin up', he has made his name in thought provoking films such as David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988), for which he won the New York Critics Best Actor Award. He gained a Golden Globe Award in addition to an Oscar for Best Actor in 1990 for his role as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune (1990) alongside Glenn Close. Among his many achievements, his role as Professor Higgins in Loewe-Lerner's famous musical "My Fair Lady" mustn't be forgotten. It was in London, back in 1987.
He is married to actress Sinéad Cusack, with whom he appeared in Waterland (1992) and in the Royal Shakespeare Company plays. He appeared with his son Samuel Irons and his father-in-law Cyril Cusack in the film Danny the Champion of the World (1989). His son Max Irons is also an actor.