The San Francisco Film Society has announced that this year's recipient of the Peter J. Owens award for excellence in acting will be Jeremy Irons, an artist recently known as much for his work on stage and screen as for his remarks suggesting that same sex marriage might "debase" the institution and/or encourage incest.
As part of their Independent Film Festival, which kicks of tomorrow, the SFFS invites fans to spend "An Evening with Jeremy Irons," at which one will enjoy a clip reel of Irons' career highlights and an onstage interview with Irons. We suspect that highlight clip will not include this interview from April of 2013 with HuffPost Live's host Josh Zepps:
In the above interview, Irons says, regarding those fighting for marriage equality, "I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that."
Later in the interview, Irons mused that marriage for all might lead to interfamilial romance. "Could a father not marry his son?" he asked, arguing that since incest taboos exist only to prevent inbreeding, that it's not incest if fathers and sons have sexual relations, and that allowing marriage between gays and lesbians might reverse those mores, as well.
Irons, himself, has enjoyed an opposite-sex marriage to actress Sinéad Cusack since 1978. They have two sons, Sam and Max.
In the ensuing controversy (and at least one protest), Irons defended his remarks on his website, saying that that what he presented "was a mischievous argument, but nonetheless valid."
In the year since the interview, Irons has continued to defend his remarks as "a valid argument," and has not expressed any support for same-sex marriage. At the end of March, gay marriages were legalized in Irons' home country of England. He reportedly also owns at least two homes in Ireland, where, as with many places in this country, same-sex marriages are not legally recognized.
According to the SF Film Society, the award they are bestowing on Irons "honors an actor whose work exemplifies brilliance, independence and integrity." (An email from SFist to the SFFS seeking more details on the decision to honor Irons had not received a response at publication time.) The Evening With Jeremy Irons event is on April 30 at the Sundance Kabuki. General admission tickets are $25.