"I got into acting to stay out of jail," admits Jonathan Rhys Meyers who, early on in his career earned a reputation similar to that of fellow Irish bad-boy and heart-throb Colin Farrell. But with a Golden Globe under his belt, along with ad campaigns for Versace and Hugo Boss, the chisel-jawed star has found a new focus in life that leaves no time for resurrecting his former lifestyle. "I have to be crazier in different ways snowboarding, riding, doing things that are slightly dangerous," he says.
As is the case with many a Hollywood success story, the actor has worked his way up from humble beginnings to become a household name. Born in Dublin on July 27, 1977, Jonathan Michael Francis O\\\'Keefe he takes his stage name from his mother\\\'s maiden name was raised, along with brothers Jamie, Alan and Paul, in rural County Cork by mum Geraldine, after his dad, John, left the family when Jonathan was three. His childhood included a spell in an orphanage, but as a teen he befriended Anglo-Irish farmer Christopher Crofts with whom he went to live and who he refers to as "my gay dad".
Expelled from his all-boys school at 16, the teen was spotted a year later by casting agents in a local pool hall and the rest, as they say, is history. He won his first film role, A Man Of No Importance
, in 1994 and was just 19 when he landed the role of a young assassin opposite Liam Neeson
in Michael Collins
His star was clearly on the rise when he was cast as a spandex-clad glam rocker in 1998\\\'s Velvet Goldmine
, a vehicle which made the most of his androgynous appeal and singing abilities. That was followed with more silver screen credits, such as Ride With The Devil
, plus BBC mini TV series Gormenghast
, in which he played the central character Steerpike.
A role as dedicated football coach to a young Keira Knightley
in the hit Bend It Like Beckham
further raised his profile, as did his portrayal of rakish George Osborne in a lavish 2004 production of Vanity Fair
. That same year he also appeared in Oliver Stone epic Alexander
, making headlines with his wild, on-set antics in Morocco alongside Colin Farrell
. The experience prompted him to take stock and reassess his goals.
By 2005 Jonathan was back in the news for very different reasons, with his hip-swivelling portrayal of the king of rock\\\'n\\\'roll in American mini-series Elvis
. The role brought him a prestigious Golden Globe and to Woody Allen\\\'s attention, with the director casting him as the lead in his dark satire Match Point
opposite Scarlett Johansson
. In 2006, the action-loving hunk who\\\'s honed his physique in the gym key part alongside Tom Cruise
in Mission: Impossible 3
Not one to let fame and fortune go to his head, he"s been careful to invest his money responsibly, shunning expensive cars in favour of properties around the world maintaining homes in Morocco, London, Dublin and LA and investing in a Warsaw supermarket with a group of Irish farmers.
Since he began dating London-based student and heiress Reena Hammer mum is one half of make-up duo Ruby & Millie while dad owns Harrods\\\' Urban Retreat spa the charismatic actor\\\'s love life has remained largely low-key. He was previously linked to a string of A-listers, including Toni Collette, Rachael Leigh Cook and Estella Warren, but famously told one interviewer: "There\\\'s only room for one actress in my life and I\\\'m it."
Inspired casting has earned Jonathan a devoted female following on both sides of the Atlantic, something which being cast as a virile young King Henry VIII in 2007 TV series The Tudors
could only further add to.