PARIS — Jeremy Irons is a member of acting's most elite group, with an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy to his name. But at 66, an age when some might consider retirement, the dapper English actor could not be doing more.

He's president of this month's Champs Elysees Film Festival in Paris and has recently filmed in three independent films. Irons also hits the screens next year in Zack Snyder's highly-anticipated "Batman v Superman" as Alfred, Bruce Wayne's endlessly patient butler.

The mix of high and low-brow, arty and commercial, is typical of the versatile actor. Irons started in theater, won an Academy Award for the 1990 drama "Reversal of Fortune," but went on to be best known as the fiendish lion named Scar in "The Lion King."

In a straw hat and smoking as he overlooked the Arc de Triomphe, a relaxed Irons spoke to The Associated Press about growing old and why blockbusters aren't more fun to do.

"I don't see films as blockbusters or independents. I just see good and bad scripts. I suppose that's why my career has been so diverse. The main difference with the huge-budget films is that you see your co-stars less, there's a lot of waiting," he quipped.

Irons says big Hollywood studios have decided to play it safe with crowd-pleasing fantasy films and superhero flicks like "Batman v Superman" — but he says that has damaged independent filmmaking.

"You can't blame the studios for playing it safe. It's inevitable. But the downside is that raising money for middle-ranging independent films has got incredibly hard. That's the real shame," he said.

Irons says his near-five-decade career has given him the confidence to pursue scripts on merit.

"You just don't feel the pressure anymore," he said. "You not as scared as offending people. And you can pursue projects that really count."

And he's one actor who uses his celebrity for good causes. A former ambassador for the U.N.'s food agency, four years ago he toured Europe with an environmental documentary film about the problem of global refuse called "Trashed."

"It's not a sexy topic. But I'm much happier spending my energies promoting films that change people's lives than talking about a film that may or may not have merit and which anyway is a fictitious story. I feel like I'm using my time better," he said. "We can use our celebrity-dom to a positive effect."

Thomas Adamson can be followed at