Jeremy Irons, who guest stars on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" on an episode airing on Wednesday, is often the go-to man when it comes to playing villains and the actor says that he enjoys portraying "enigmas."
This is the 62-year-old British Oscar-winning actor's first role on a U.S. network television show. He plays Captain Jackson, a sex therapist with a "sordid past" filled with sexual and alcohol addiction, according to NBC. His character is interrogated by detectives Benson and Stabler, played by Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni, after his daughter Ann is raped by a man wearing a haunting mask.
Irons is known for his distinctive, dry voice and played the villain Simon Gruber in "Die Hard 3: Die Hard with a Vengence" in 1995. He has also starred in films such as "Eragorn" and "Dead Ringers" and won an Oscar in 1991 for his role as a man accused of trying to murder his wife in "Reversal of Fortune."
"I like playing characters who are not necessarily what they seem," Irons told OnTheRedCarpet.com during a recent conference call with reporters. "I like playing enigmas. I like playing people who live outside our normal life experience."
"So, to play characters who live experiences or have had experiences or live in such a way that is on the edge, possibly good, possibly not, I find very, very, very interesting," he said. "They're sometimes called bad people. In my experience, most people feel sort of neither good nor bad. They know they have both within them, and I enjoy playing characters who are true to life in that respect."
Irons said that his favorite among his film projects was the 1997 movie "Lolita," which saw him play a man who pursues a sexual relationship with an adolescent girl, played by Dominique Swain.
The film, an adaptation of a novel by Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov, "did everything that a movie should do, which was to stir up people and make them question things, to dealing with a tricky subject," Irons said.
"I think that one of the things that movies and stories should do is to stir the sediment at the bottom of our apathetic pond and to open people's eyes to situations which they tend to shy away from," he added. "I think that movie pressed all those buttons and therefore, I'm proud of that."
But is perhaps Irons' voiceover role as the evil Scar in Disney's 1994 animated film "The Lion King" that makes Irons popular among younger viewers. "Law & Order: SVU" executive producer Neal Baer said the children of Meloni and Hagartay "just went crazy" when they saw Irons on the set.
Check out a sneak peek preview of Jeremy Irons' appearance on "Law & Order: SVU" below. The episode airs on NBC on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.