Jeremy Irons will join Terence Stamp, Alec Baldwin, Bruce Dern, Alexander Payne, others at Savannah Film Festival

Savannahians who pay attention to the Savannah Film Festival have gotten spoiled over the years by the sheer number and caliber of the stars that the SCAD-sponsored event has brought to town.

So there was a little bit of a muted reaction to the first news of this year’s honorees and special guests, a list that includes Terrence Stamp (a true actor’s actor), director Alexander Payne, Natalie Dormer, Alec Baldwin, and Bruce Dern.

I know some of the folks behind the scenes at the filmfest, but I never asked anyone if there were other plans still in the works. I didn’t need to ask — it seemed obvious that they would have something else waiting for final confirmation.

So today came the announcement that Jeremy Irons will be honored at the Savannah Film Festival.

The news has been widely covered, including by The Hollywood Reporter:

Jeremy Irons will be honored at the 16th Savannah Film Festival, sponsored by Georgia’s Savannah College of Art & Design, held Oct. 26 to Nov. 2.

Irons, whose movies have grossed about $1 billion, shot to fame in 1981’s Brideshead Revisited, the highbrow Downton Abbey of its day. He held his own playing opposite Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman and opposite himself as malevolent identical-twin gynecologists in Dead Ringers. Irons has won an Oscar (as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune); two Emmys; SAG, Cesar and Tony Awards; and half a dozen Golden Globe nominations, most recently as the elegantly thuggish Pope in Showtime’s The Borgias. Irons will do a Q&A after a screening of Adrian Lyne’s Lolita.

I haven’t seen The Borgias, but all those other projects would be at the top of my Jeremy Irons picks (I guess I’d Damage to the list). I was in high school when Brideshead Revisited (based on the Evelyn Waugh novel) was on American TV. I was just riveted — but not really by Irons. The character Charles Ryder just seemed so, well, blah compared to the flashier, wealthier, and more transgressive Sebastian Flyte played by Anthony Andrews.

But Irons’ Ryder now stands out to me as one of fiction’s great outsiders — the man who never quite dares to live fully. He’s a literarty cousin of Nick from The Great Gatsby.

So when I think about Brideshead 30 years after seeing the mini-series, it’s Ryder who comes first to mind.

In almost all of his great roles, Irons establishes a more subdued tone for the character than most other actors would ever dare. And it works.

Good Great to see him added to the impressive list of this year’s guests.

Click here for more information at SavannahNow, or just explore the offerings via the Savannah Film Festival site.