Being the third actor to play the role of Alfred since 1989, Jeremy Irons is following in the immediate footsteps of Michael Caine, a two-time Oscar Award winner. Irons was asked how his version of the character and how he differentiates the role.
"We decided to try and change it a little bit from how he had been, make him less of a butler," said Irons in a conversation with BUILD Series. "I have a friend — now dead, sadly — very, very wealthy man called Paul Getty. He inherited the Getty Oil billions, and he was a neighbor of mine in England. And I remember going over there for dinner once.
"A very nice man parked my car for me. Another very nice man opened the front door for me. And another very nice man took my coat. And another very nice man gave me a glass of champagne on a tray. And another very nice man took me into introduce me to all the other guests. And I thought, 'oh, very nice men here.'"
But while they seemed like friendly butlers, Irons learned they had a much more significant role in his friend's life.
"Well, they were all ex-SAS [Special Air Service], and they were there to guard Paul. And yet they were opening doors, offering champagne. I thought, 'that's my Alfred.' He's a guy who will make a good cup of coffee, but if you need him, if you're in trouble, he'll be there with the experience that he's garnered."
That insight can be gleaned from Irons portrayal of Alfred in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where he's shown mending Bruce's wounds, fixing his equipment, and even taking remote control of the Batwing to shoot up some thugs while Batman hits the ground.
We'll see how Alfred continues to aid Master Bruce and the rest of his allies when Justice League premieres in theaters on November 17.