Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, and was trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England. There, he performed in a number of plays, and later moved on to become a film and television actor.
After winning the Academy Award for Best Actor, Irons was chosen over Tim Curry and Malcolm McDowell for the role of Scar. During production of The Lion King, the animators were so impressed with Irons's performance that they placed some of his features on Scar's face.
After the success of The Lion King, Irons won the Annie Award for Best Achievement for Voice Acting and was nominated for Best Villain by the MTV Movie Awards, but lost to Dennis Hopper in Speed.
- The Mission - Father Gabriel (1986)
- Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World - William Smith (1989)
- Reversal of Fortune - Claus von Bülow (1990)
- Die Hard with a Vengeance - Peter Krieg / Simon Peter Gruber (1995)
- The Shapeshifter - Faries (1996)
- Lolita - Humbert Humbert (1997)
- The Man in the Iron Mask - Aramis (1998)
- Dungeons & Dragons - Profion (2000)
- Eragon - Brom (2006)
- Appaloosa - Randall Bragg (2008)
- The Pink Panther 2 - Avellaneda (2009)
- According to the reflections of others who worked on The Lion King, Irons smoked a lot.
- Irons heavily damaged his vocal chords after screaming, "You won't get a sniff without me!" during the "Be Prepared" recording session. His co-star Jim Cummings was brought in to finish the song.
- Jeremy Irons reprized his role as Scar in The Lion King Blooper Reels in 2011.
- A lot like his character, Jeremy was very jealous of Mufasa's bushy tail and magnificent mane commenting his own lion was raggedy and hollow-chested.