Veteran actor Jeremy Irons has penned an open letter to fans to clear up controversy surrounding recent comments he made about gay marriage in his native UK, insisting his remarks have been misconstrued.
Irons sparked outrage last Wednesday after a headline-grabbing video interview with the Huffington Post, in which he claimed introducing a law allowing same-sex marriage in Britain could lead to fathers marrying their sons in a bid to avoid the country's heavy inheritance tax duties.
"Could a father not marry his son? It seems to me that now they're fighting for the name. I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that" Irons said.
"I don't have a strong feelling either way. Living with another animal, whether it be a husband or a dog, is great. It's lovely to have someone to love."
His remarks angered some gay rights campaigners and prompted a response from openly-homosexual actor Alan Cumming.
"I hate when people say they don't have strong feellings about something then proceed to spew offensive and ignorant ones. Jeremy Irons," Cumming tweeted.
However, Irons is adamant his comments have been misinterpreted and has now attempted to clarify his statements with a post on his official website.
"I am deeply concerned that from my online discussion with the Huffington Post, it has been understood that I hold a position that is anti-gay. This is as far from the truth," Irons wrote.
"I was taking part in a short discussion around the practical meaning of Marriage, and how that institution might be altered by it becoming available to same-sex partners.
"Perhaps rather too flippantly I flew the kite of an example of the legal quagmire that might occur if same sex marriage entered the statute books, by raising the possibility of future marriage between same sex family members for tax reasons.
"Clearly this was a mischievous argument, but nonetheless valid."
"I had hoped that even on such a subject as this, where passions run high, the internet was a forum where ideas could be freely discussed without descending into name-calling," Irons said.