Will go­ing pub­lic ac­tu­ally SAVE Jonathan Rhys Mey­ers?

He’s an in­tensely pri­vate man but as his wife Mara shares their mis­car­riage news af­ter he hits the booze again, we ask...

Irish Daily Mail - - News - by Jenny Friel

THE SCENE, sadly, was not all that un­usual. Jonathan Rhys Mey­ers, di­shev­elled, drunk and in­co­her­ent in an air­port be­ing led away from the de­par­ture area by se­cu­rity, af­ter be­ing deemed too in­tox­i­cated to fly.

At least this time the Hol­ly­wood star wasn’t threat­en­ing to kill any­one. In­stead eye­wit­nesses said he seemed so out of it in Dublin air­port last Satur­day morn­ing, that he was un­able to cause any se­ri­ous has­sle. They de­scribed how he spent some time ei­ther stag­ger­ing around or lean­ing against a wall for sup­port be­fore be­ing helped to a seat by an air­port po­lice­man.

He’s been here be­fore of course. Pre­vi­ous al­co­hol fu­elled pub­lic in­ci­dents, of which there are sev­eral, in­clude the one at JFK Air­port in New York, where he was banned from ever fly­ing with United Air­lines again, or at Charles De Gaulle Air­port in Paris when he tried to take on three po­lice­men and the time he was ar­rested in Dublin Air­port in 2007 for be­ing drunk and dis­or­derly.

But what sets this most re­cent episode apart from all the oth­ers, aside from not get­ting into a phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tion this time, is how, in the af­ter­math, the pub­lic have been made aware of the most per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about the usu­ally in­tensely pri­vate 40-year-old ac­tor.

Just a day af­ter the de­press­ingly fa­mil­iar pho­to­graphs of Rhys Mey­ers fall­ing around an air­port ap­peared in the news­pa­pers, his wife Mara Lane posted a lengthy en­try on In­sta­gram, where she has more than 22,000 fol­low­ers. Along­side a sepia-coloured photo of a kneel­ing young girl reach­ing out to­wards a lion, she re­vealed how the cou­ple has re­cently lost their sec­ond child through a mis­car­riage.

‘Child was very very much wanted (right now es­pe­cially by J, so he took the news par­tic­u­larly not so well) and we are still work­ing with cop­ing skills over here... when life throws us curve balls such as these,’ the post­ing reads. ‘De­pres­sion is a real con­cern from past abuse as well as al­co­holism which he was born with. He has been able to turn any ug­li­ness and hurt in his life into art and is the strong­est per­son I know.

‘I do not know any­one who has been through what he has been through and reached his level of suc­cesses. It does seem though that every time we seem to be mak­ing so much progress... some­times it’s like two steps for­ward, one step back.’

It’s a heart­break­ing, raw and hon­est dis­clo­sure. One that ad­dresses not only their re­cent loss, but also touches on the demons that seem to have fol­lowed Rhys Mey­ers since he was a lit­tle boy grow­ing up in Cork. The is­sues that he ap­pears to have coped with, at reg­u­lar stages through­out his life, by drink­ing him­self into obliv­ion.

While his wife fol­lowed up her ini­tial In­sta­gram with another post­ing on Tues­day night, thank­ing peo­ple for their sup­port and un­der­stand­ing, Rhys Mey­ers has re­mained silent.

Ac­cord­ing to Lane’s mes­sages he was on his way into a detox cen­tre, so it could be that he is sim­ply off­line and busy get­ting bet­ter.

‘He is safe and with his sober liv­ing com­pan­ion and bodyguard to get into a detox closer to home,’ she ex­plained. ‘Since he was de­nied hos­pi­tal help twice in Ire­land be­cause of an al­ready two month wait pe­riod.’

But you do have to won­der, once he has fin­ished at the cen­tre and has re­turned home, to where he lives with his wife and their in­fant son Wolf, who was born last year, and is fully cog­nisant of the level of Lane’s so­cial me­dia shar­ing about his per­sonal life, what will he make of her ex­traor­di­nary can­dour?

Af­ter all, this is a man who has rarely, if ever, opened up fully about the ex­tent of his trou­bled back­ground. There have been snip­pets along the way of how tough his life was, grow­ing up in a coun­cil house with his mother, who had a se­ri­ous drink prob­lem of her own. And of course his re­la­tion­ship with Christo­pher Crofts, the gay, wealthy dairy farmer, who took him in as a teenager and helped nur­ture his fledg­ling act­ing ca­reer. More of that later.

But Rhys Mey­ers’ story has al­ways seemed to change over the years — you have never been sure if what is out there is part of some fairy­tale, rags to riches story, pos­si­bly rewrit­ten and re­shaped to hide an even more sor­did and un­happy truth.

At the be­gin­ning of his ca­reer he gave glimpses into his up­bring­ing, de­scrib­ing his mother as be­ing not very ‘re­spon­si­ble’. There were men­tions of how at times he had to steal food as she’d spent all her dole on drink. And some re­ports claimed he ended up in an or­phan­age, or was taken in by so­cial ser­vices.

How­ever his mother, Geral­dine (Ger) O’Ke­effe, an­grily re­futed these claims. ‘We did not have any money, it was dif­fi­cult but we made the most of it,’ she said. ‘There was al­ways food on the ta­ble, clothes for the kids and hol­i­days. Lies that Johnny grew up in an or­phan­age are not only un­true, but very hurt­ful. It’s not easy be­ing an ac­tor’s mother. My boys were never taken from me by so­cial work­ers, placed in care or an or­phan­age. They had a happy child­hood be­cause they got a lot of love.’

Given her own is­sues with al­co­hol, her rec­ol­lec­tion of Rhys Mey­ers’ child­hood was per­haps un­der­stand­ably dif­fer­ent from the pic­ture that the ac­tor once shared.

But it’s clear he has also at times pre­sented very dif­fer­ent ver­sions of his life to the pub­lic. In­deed in an in­ter­view with our sis­ter news­pa­per, The Mail on Sun­day, while pro­mot­ing the TV se­ries The Tu­dors, he in­sisted his drink­ing had been ‘blown out of pro­por­tion.’ It was shortly af­ter he’d been pho­tographed while out on another epic ben­der just af­ter his mother died in Novem­ber 2007.

‘I haven’t even thought about drink­ing since my mother passed away. Drink­ing is not the way for­ward for me at all,’ he said. ‘I never even drank till I was 25 any­way. I was in Thai­land on my own, film­ing. I was a bit lonely and I started drink­ing.’

The idea that he never drank un­til he was 25 is greatly at odds with other peo­ple’s me­mories of him start­ing out in the film busi­ness. For in­stance, those of his ex-girl­friend, Aus­tralian ac­tress Toni Collette, with whom he starred in the 1998 film Vel­vet Gold­mine, when he was just 21 years old.

‘There was a lot of he­do­nism, a lot of get­ting into the mo­ment,’ she has said. ‘Now I’m much more quiet. I guess that’s what hap­pens when you grow up. You re­alise get­ting drunk is just a way of es­cap­ing.’

But per­haps it’s not sur­pris­ing Rhys Mey­ers has been in­con­sis­tent about his his­tory. From the start, it wasn’t easy. His par­ents were fac­tory work­ers, barely out of their teens when Ger found her­self preg­nant and told no one in her fam­ily. In­stead she fled to Dublin where Rhys Mey­ers was born two months pre­ma­turely, with a kidney de­fect. Doc­tors told her to ex­pect the worst, but he sur­vived af­ter months in hos­pi­tal.

Ger mar­ried his fa­ther John and the cou­ple had three more sons in quick suc­ces­sion. But John, by then a job­bing mu­si­cian, walked out on the fam­ily when Ger was preg­nant with their fourth child.

Her mother-in-law stepped in to help and it was de­cided Ger would raise the older two boys while Mrs O’Ke­effe cared for the youngest two, Jamie and Paul. If Ger was an­gry about her sit­u­a­tion, she kept it to her­self when in­ter­viewed af­ter her son be­came a Hol­ly­wood star. ‘I was lucky that I had a won­der­ful fam­ily and in-laws,’ she in­sisted.

In the mean­time, Rhys Mey­ers’ fa­ther John set­tled in Jer­sey, where he ran a pub for years. His three sons even­tu­ally went to live with him and

‘De­pres­sion is a real con­cern from past abuse’

‘He’s been able to turn hurt in his life into art’

formed a band, Suzy’s Field, which is still go­ing and has had a mod­icum of suc­cess. But Rhys Mey­ers re­mained in Cork where he got ex­pelled from school for mitch­ing be­fore the In­ter Cert ex­ams.

‘Jonny was kicked out at 15,’ his mother ex­plained at a civic re­cep­tion for her son in Cork sev­eral years ago. ‘He was at­tend­ing North Mon in Cork and he never did his In­ter or Leav­ing Cert. He didn’t want to go back any­way be­cause he hated school. He had a ter­ri­ble time be­cause he was dif­fer­ent.’

At the same gig, Rhys Mey­ers con­firmed how tough he had found it. ‘School was a night­mare in many ways, as it was for many kids,’ he said. ‘I found grow­ing up very dif­fi­cult, but I defy any young fel­low not to feel that. I was very lucky be­cause I got a break and fell into act­ing al­most by chance.’

His break into act­ing, of course, was helped by the fact that he’s a par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful-look­ing man, es­pe­cially on cam­era. Huge eyes, ra­zor sharp cheek­bones and the sort of swollen, sen­sual mouth that makes it dif­fi­cult to con­cen­trate.

But it’s also a kind of del­i­cate, al­most an­drog­y­nous beauty that has drawn peo­ple to him since he was in his teens. Af­ter leav­ing school he got a job in a pool hall. Around this time he met Christo­pher Crofts, who took the young, hand­some teenager un­der his wing. Both men have al­ways de­nied the re­la­tion­ship was any­thing but pla­tonic. In­deed Rhys Mey­ers has de­scribed the farmer, who ran a 650-acre prop­erty in But­ten­vat, as a sur­ro­gate fa­ther-fig­ure. Crofts agreed to al­low the young­ster to live with him and his three chil­dren, two boys and a girl. Whether these were his bi­o­log­i­cal chil­dren or oth­ers he’d taken in to live with him has never been clear.

Crofts’ pa­tron­age af­forded Rhys Mey­ers the chance to pur­sue an act­ing ca­reer which would see him star along­side Keira Knight­ley, Tom Cruise and Scar­lett Jo­hans­son. In­deed Crofts, for a time, be­came an al­most agent for him, vet­ting scripts and giv­ing ad­vice. Cer­tainly Rhys Mey­ers’ mother never saw any­thing un­to­ward in the friend­ship. ‘I have the ut­most re­spect for Christo­pher,’ she said. ‘He came at the right time for Jonathan and was a sta­bil­is­ing in­flu­ence at an age when he could have got into trou­ble. He helped sta­bilise him and gave him a male role model.’

That men­tor­ship role, how­ever, was pub­licly and ir­re­vo­ca­bly tar­nished about ten years ago. Crofts, who had a home in Morocco for over two decades, was ac­cused and found guilty of drug­ging and sex­u­ally abus­ing a 15-year-old home­less

boy. He spent more than four months in a Moroc­can jail be­fore a High Court judge an­nulled the rest of his 12-month sen­tence and charges for in­cit­ing a mi­nor to pros­ti­tu­tion were dropped. Rhys Mey­ers al­ways stood by his for­mer men­tor, but the in­tense pub­lic­ity and scru­tiny into his re­la­tion­ship with the dairy farmer has to have had an ef­fect.

Cer­tainly in the years since his sur­ro­gate fa­ther was jailed, al­beit briefly, and since his mother died af­ter a stroke in 2007 at the age of just 50, he has fallen off the wagon with grim reg­u­lar­ity. There have been stints in re­hab, but sadly his cop­ing mech­a­nisms seem to fail when up against ad­ver­sity. There is, how­ever, some­thing to be hugely ad­mired about his wife’s open­ness re­gard­ing his most re­cent tribu­la­tions. Losing a child through mis­car­riage is not al­ways af­forded the sym­pa­thy it de­serves, and of­ten only the mother’s suf­fer­ing is re­ally con­sid­ered. That Mara Lane has re­vealed how bru­tally bruised her hus­band has been by their loss helps lift a lid on a phe­nom­e­non per­haps not of­ten thought about. And maybe trans­parency is the key to halt­ing the de­struc­tive cy­cle that Rhys Mey­ers has been on for the last cou­ple of decades. But quite what he makes of his past and present be­ing laid so bare by the woman he pre­sum­ably trusts most — well, that re­mains to be seen...

Fam­ily man: The Rhys Mey­ers with baby son, Wolf

Strong sup­port: Jonathan with wife Mara Lane

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