Jeremy William Fredric Smith (born June 18, 1990), better known as Jeremy Irvine, is an English actor who made his film debut in the epic war film War Horse (2011). In 2012, he portrayed Philip "Pip" Pirrip in the film adaptation of Great Expectations.
Irvine earned a reputation as a method actor after he went for two months without food, losing around two stone (13 kg), and performed his own torture scene stunts in The Railway Man (2013). He has since starred in The Woman in Black: Angel of Death (2015), and portrayed Daniel Grigori in the direct-to-video film adaptation of the young adult novel Fallen (2016).
Irvine was born and raised in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire. His mother, Bridget Smith, is a Liberal Democrat councillor on the South Cambridgeshire District Council, and his father, Chris Smith, is an engineer. Irvine also has two younger brothers, Lawrence and Toby, the latter a child actor who portrays the young Pip in Great Expectations. Irvine's stage surname was his grandfather's first name. His great-grandfather, Sir Ralph Lilley Turner, wrote the quotation used as the inscription on the Gurkha Memorial, London.
He started acting at the age of 16. Irvine states that it was his drama teacher who inspired him to pursue acting: "I never fitted in, which led me to acting. I was looking for something different." He played Romeo along with other main roles in plays whilst attending Bedford Modern School, followed by a run with the National Youth Theatre.
After completing a one-year foundation course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), attending with Sam Claflin, Irvine spent two years posting his CV through letterboxes in an effort to get acting work. He almost gave up acting for good just before he got his big break in War Horse. In an interview with CBS News while promoting Great Expectations, he described this as the lowest point of his life and revealed that he considered taking a different career path: "I'd kind of hit rock bottom and really did think this was stupid and I just wasted three or four years of my life. My dad wanted me to get a job being a welder. At the company he was at, he was an engineer. I was very very close to doing that."
Before he got his big break, Irvine worked in his local supermarket and also did web design. He was also called in for an audition to do a mayonnaise commercial but supposedly turned it down. Irvine taught at an acting school that has since closed. He played Luke in the television series Life Bites and appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2010 production of Dunsinane. He was quoted in Interview Magazine, saying: "My friends all took the mick out of me for Dunsinane saying, 'You're gonna be the tree'. Indeed, in my first scene, I was waving two branches."
In June 2010, he was cast in the lead role of the 2011 Steven Spielberg film War Horse. The film was an adaption of Michael Morpurgo's novel, also entitled War Horse. Spielberg revealed that he had been looking for an unknown actor for War Horse, stating: "I looked at hundreds of actors and newcomers for Albert – mainly newcomers – and nobody had the heart, the spirit or the communication skills that Jeremy had." The casting process lasted for two months, with Irvine auditioning several times a week. Irvine was asked to read a section of the War Horse script on camera in order to check his West Country accent. In an attempt to prepare himself for the role of Albert, Irvine took up weight training and gained approximately 14 lbs. of muscle. He also underwent two months of intensive horse riding. He spent so much time recreating the Battle of Somme scene in the film that he ended up contracting trench foot. For his work in the film, he was nominated for the London Film Critics' Choice Award for Young British Performer Of The Year and Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer.
In April 2011, Variety reported that Irvine had been cast as Pip in a 2012 film adaptation of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. In October 2011, The Hollywood Reporter announced that he was set to play the young Eric Lomax in the film production of The Railway Man. He then starred in the independent film Now Is Good, alongside Dakota Fanning. In January 2013, Variety reported that he was one of three candidates for Tobias Eaton (Four) in a film based on the novel Divergent and Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games, however the studio decided he wasn't a proper fit for either and chose actors who were more well known for the role. In February 2013 Variety stated that he had been cast in a film based on the novel The World Made Straight. Also in 2013, he was cast as Daniel Grigori in the film Fallen, based on the young adult series of the same name.
On 12 August 2014, Deadline reported that Irvine had been cast as Percy Bysshe Shelley in the up-and-coming biopic Mary Shelley's Monster. The film has been described as "a story of youth that transcends time, a gothic romance, a love triangle that involves a dark passenger." In November 2015, he starred in Don Broco's music video for the song "Nerve". Irvine attended the same school, Bedford Modern, as the band's members. The following month, Irvine joined the cast of the upcoming feature film remake of Billionaire Boys Club.
In 2018, Irvine portrayed the younger version of Sam Carmichael (Pierce Brosnan) in the sequel to Mamma Mia!, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. In July 2017, Irvine confirmed via his Instagram that he had joined the cast of The Last Full Measure alongside Tommy Hatto and Zach Roerig.
Irvine has had diabetes mellitus type 1 since childhood: "When I was six, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I was on four injections a day, which I administered myself." His two brothers also suffer from diabetes. Irvine has been involved in trials with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to test an artificial pancreas, a form of automatic glucose meter attached to a portable insulin pump. The tests took place at Addenbrooke's Hospital with the University of Cambridge during 2005 and 2007. Irvine introduced his experiences with diabetes to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the Cambridge Welcome Trust Clinical Research Facility on 7 February 2012. He was again present with the Duchess on 31 January 2013 at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's inpatient adolescent ward, after she had become president of the JDRF in 2012.
Irvine avoids the spotlight and tries to maintain privacy, once saying that "I realised very quickly that I didn't want to be famous, so I don't go to Mahiki, I just go down the pub with all my mates." When asked about his rising fame, he said: "When War Horse came out, I had maybe a month of people stopping me in the street, then it died down. I try to ignore all that and pretend none of it exists. We're only acting. The work my mum does, a lot of it is re-housing homeless people, that's a real job. I play make-believe and dressing up for a living!" In an interview with the Daily Mail to promote War Horse, he described his ideal life: "There's nothing nicer than coming back to your village, where people like my mum's friends take the mick out of me. I prefer that to the craziness of Hollywood." He currently lives in West Hampstead.