Jeremy Irons courted controversy in 2011 when he was quoted as saying: “If a man puts his hand on a woman’s bottom, any woman worth her salt can deal with it”. Today he has revealed in a newspaper interview that as a young actor he had to fend off the advances of older men.
The actor, 64, explained his defence of bottom patting which appeared in the Radio Times 18 months ago in an interview with The Times today by saying: “I love touching. I always touch people.”
“I don’t think I said ‘bottom’ [in the Radio Times interview] but of course I was misquoted. Basically, I said that any self-respecting woman would tell you to f*** off [if she minded].”
He went on to explain: “I think we’re very robust as human beings. I had people when I was younger trying to feel me up. Older men. I just told them to get lost.”
The Lolita actor, who has been married to Sinead Cusack for 34 years, went on to relay a story from a female friend who had been involved with an older man when she was 13.
“There was sex involved. She said: ‘By the time I was 16 or 17, it petered out – it’s never affected me at all.'”
He continued: “There are people who are victims in life and I don’t think they should be encouraged.”
When the interviewer later asks about his legacy, Irons said he’d like to be remembered for “having touched people in some way…not literally, of course.”
Promoting his role as a sinister uncle in, what has been widely hailed as the successor to the Twilight franchise, Beautiful Creatures, Irons continued to speak bluntly.
“It’s not the sort of thing I would ever go and see,” he said. “As an actor you should have a business box and an artistic box and they should never cross. In truth this was a studio movie.”
The Radio Times journalist, Andrew Duncan, who conducted the interview 18 months ago in which Irons claims he was "misquoted" regarding bottom patting, stands by his quotes.
Duncan said:“I am surprised Jeremy Irons continues to insist he was 'of course misquoted' in a 2011 interview I wrote for the Radio Times, particularly as I sent him a tape of the interview and a transcript after he complained that he didn't say 'any woman worth her salt' can cope with a man putting his hand on her behind."