Iris Iris (2001) 

Jim Broadbent plays John Bayley   Also starring Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville. Directed by Richard Eyre

"Her greatest talent was for life"

Plot Summery:  Iris tells the tender and extraordinary true story of the enduring love between the novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley, from the romance of their early days at Oxford in the 1950s to her tragic death with Alzheimer's disease in February 1999. The film is based on the memoir, 'Elegy for Iris' by John Bayley.

Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent in "Iris" The real John Bayley and Iris Murdoch
play the trailer

Patrick's comments:  Jim, who shaved his head for the role, plays Iris's husband, John Bayley, opposite Judi Dench.  The film covers two distinct periods of her life. The young Iris and John are played by Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville.  This is a truly moving story but the film's strength is undoubtedly due to the casting and the gripping performances by the four leads.  Jim completed filming in Oxford and at Pinewood Studios in Spring 2001.

Awards: The Oscars: Jim has won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of John Bayley beating fellow English colleagues Sir Ian McKellen and Ben Kingsley. "Stone the crows!" exclaimed the elated actor, "Making Iris was the most joyful and wonderful experience".

Jim in the Oscar news:
CNN: Oscar Surprise
Ananova: Jim Broadbent wins Best Supporting Actor
BBC: Broadbent scores for the UK

The Oscar Acceptance speech: Jim kissed his wife, kissed Judi Dench and was then embraced by Kate Winslet.  He ascended the steps to the stage and said: 
"Stone the Crows!  I'd like to thank the Academy for this wonderful honour. Making Iris was the most joyful, wonderful experience and for that much thanks to Intermedia, to BBC Films and to Miramax for getting behind it and putting it out. And above all to Richard Eyre for writing a wonderful script with Charles Wood, for directing with skill, intelligence, humour and great talent and for putting together a wonderful cast for us to work with. With Hugh Bonneville as the younger me and Kate Winslet and the special Judi Dench who I had a lot to do with. And I'd like to thank John Bayley who allowed us to plunder and, I'm sure, misrepresent his life with Iris and above all I'd like to thank my wife Anastasia for coming with me on this long and rather unpredictable journey.  Good luck Moulin Rouge!"

Awards: Golden Globes: Jim Broadbent was the toast of the British film world in the early hours (UK time) of Monday 21st January after scooping a top Hollywood award for his role in the movie Iris.  Broadbent was honoured by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.  Accepting his award after beating competition from actors including Jude Law, Ben Kingsley and Steve Buscemi, Broadbent said: "This is amazing, I couldn't be more surprised, I've not got anything worked out."

Before the awards he said: "I'm overwhelmed, I'm trembling. There's Jon Voight and James Coburn, all my heroes. I might pass out."  At a star-studded bash at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, he paid tribute to fellow Britons Dame Judi and to Kate Winslet, who played the young Iris.

Jim gets a hug and a kiss from co-star Kate Winslet before receiving his Golden Globe
with thanks to DiscoverKate for photos

Golden Globe - The Acceptance Speech:  This is amazing, I couldn't be more surprised, and I really haven't got anything worked out. But I'd just like to thank the producers, the director, the writers, the fellow cast, particularly Judi Dench who I had so many scenes with and who made it so easy. Kate Winslet who made the film so wonderful even though I didn't actually act with her. But, um, Hugh Bonneville who played the younger me, which is quite a task, but - I think this reflects on him as well, because it's the whole part. And most of all I'd like to thank Richard Eyre, the director who co-wrote it and cast me in it. He's a brilliant, wonderful director and friend. And I'd like to thank my wife Anastasia who is here to support me tonight. And thank you to the Golden Globes organization. Thank you.

Jim in the News:
Ananova: Jim Broadbent Wins Golden Globe

BBC: Broadbent's rise to Stardom (great story, well researched)

BBC: Poor return for Brits at Globes
The Scotsman: Broadbent's golden opportunity
The Telegraph: The unlikely star who conquered Hollywood (researched from this site)

Jim arrives at the ceremony in Beverly Hills with his wife Anastasia Lewis Jim's acceptance speech Jim pictured back stage at the Golden Globes ceremony Jim with his Golden Globe 

The BAFTAs: Jim received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor for his role as John Bailey.  (The award went to Russell Crowe for A Beautiful Mind),  Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Supporting Actress (won by Jennifer Connelly for A Beautiful Mind) and Hugh Bonneville was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (won by Jim Broadbent for Moulin Rouge).  Iris was also nominated for the Alexander Korda award for the outstanding British film of the year (won by Gosford Park).  On a more positive note for Iris, I am delighted to report that the wonderfully talented Dame Judi Dench received the BAFTA Best Actress Award for her role as Iris Murdoch (pictured right).  She said of the event, "I was very shaky on stage. I made a million pound bet with my agent five minutes before that I wouldn't win so I was very shocked. I was very shaken - if you lose a million pounds five minutes before, it is very shaky."

The BAFTA awards were presented at the Odeon Cinema in London's Leicester Square on a very wet Sunday 24th February.  The event was superbly hosted by the delightfully witty Stephen Fry.

National Board of Review Awards 2001More Awards: The 2001 National Board of Review has honoured IRIS with a Special Mention for Excellence in Film-making.  It has also awarded Jim Broadbent with Best Supporting Actor for his roles in both Iris and Moulin Rouge.  The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has followed suit and awarded Jim with Best Supporting Actor for his roles in Iris and Moulin Rouge.

Click Here for Miramax Highlights WebsiteJim Broadbent and Judi Dench Jim Broadbent and Judi Dench

Jim says: "I like character acting challenges so I took it on.  It's a lovely, lovely script.  Just beautiful and very carefully written, and extremely accurate in terms of the history that John Bayley has written about their lives.  The fact that I'mJim and Judi playing a real person makes my job much more complex. The extensive contradictions that one builds up in a long lifetime will always be more than in a fictional character who is drawn in broader strokes.  Creating this sort of fuller character is very exciting for me."

"I think John was in total awe of her his entire life.  He's totally in love with her with a sort of enduring surprise and passion. The excitement of just being in her presence, and how that balance changes for him after her illness sets in, shows how their relationship remains equally strong if not stronger."

"I'd never worked with Judi before and it was really exciting and very, very stimulating.  It was fun being with her and we definitely worked in the same way.  I think we have a similar nose for when things don't quite seem right, or when we struck a false note in a scene.  We both seemed to find the humor and emotion in the same areas." source: Miramax Films

IRIS Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent

Judi Dench says: "Jim and I worked very well together. When you're first working with someone its always very interesting.  Not only are you trying to assimilate this person to the place where they ought to be but you're also sensing out the way that the person is going to work, or wishes to work.  And so we were pretty quiet the first week or so and then quite suddenly we realized that we both have a kind of absurdity about us, and an absurdity about the way we work, too.  We did match very, very well after that initial stint." source: Miramax Films

Jim Broadbent has given a performance so tender and finely observed that it takes your breath away Rolling Stone magazine

Première 2: IRIS UK Première in London at the Curzon Cinema in Mayfair on January 13th 2002.  The event was attended by Jim and his wife Anastasia along with the rest of the cast.  John Bayley was also there.  Here are a selection of photographs from the event.

Jim and Anastasia John Bayley and the IRIS cast
Kate Winslet  Kate Winslet, John Bayley and Judi Dench  Dame Judi Dench  Hugh Bonneville John Bayley and his new wife Audi

Some excellent London Premiere pics from Empire :

 Jim Broadbent at the IRIS London Premiere

Première 1: The IRIS World Première at the Paris Theater in NYC on the 2nd December 2001.  Here are a selection of photographs from the event. Copyright ©2001 WireImage

Judi Dench Jim Broadbent Hugh Bonneville Kate Winslet

 Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville Judi Dench and Kate Winslet Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes Richard Eyre (Director)

IRIS cast and Director at the NY Premiere Jim Broadbent at the NY Premiere

More Quotes: My mother had died of Alzheimer's, so I’ve made that journey and I was reminded a lot of her.  It was a moving experience but it wasn’t emotionally hard for me, I wasn’t depressed by it all, if anything I recognised the reality of it and was slightly at ease with it -Jim Broadbent


Internet Movie Database
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Dame Judi Dench Website:


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with thanks to Ruth at  DiscoverKate for additional photos