Jonathan Rhys-Meyers has made a career out of playing historic roles. From his acclaimed portrayal of Elvis Presley to his current role as King Henry VIII on The Tudors, Rhys-Meyers brings a certain sexiness to history’s famous players.
Next, in Children of Huang Shi, the Irish actor gears up to play George Hogg, a British reporter who helped lead a group of orphans to freedom in war-torn China in the 1930s. Rhys-Meyers tells Parade.com’s Jeanne Wolf that he did a lot of researching for this role.
"When I read the script, I had no idea who George Hogg even was," he admits. "He never really got the opportunity to be well-known, but although he was essentially powerless in a war-torn country, he found the strength to do something worthy."
He adds, "I felt a little like he did because we had a Chinese crew that spoke no English and the filming conditions were often atrocious. It was a bit of a shock but the things I went through are some of the things George went through. I came to it a little deaf, dumb and blind and had to learn as I went."
The film role is a departure from Rhys-Meyer’s King Henry VIII, who in his own time was considered quite the seductive conquest by the women at court. It’s no secret to anyone who has seen The Tudors that Rhys-Meyers brings a certain sex appeal of his own to the role. It’s something he says isn’t the worst thing in the world.
"I’d rather people think I’m sexy than not," he says. "Let’s be honest. Physciality is going to have a bearing on the parts you get. And if you think differently, you’re in the wrong business."