He grew up with a tumultuous childhood and was permanently expelled from school at age 16. Happy to be out of school, he began spending time in a local pool hall where he was discovered by Hubbard Casting. The casting agents were talent-spotting for the David Puttnam production of War of the Buttons (1994) and asked Jonathan to appear for an audition. After three days of auditions, however, he did not get the role and he gave up on his acting aspirations, although encouraged not too. Soon afterwards, he received a call to audition for a national ad campaign for Knorr soup and though embarrassed by the attention from the ad, he soon found himself considered for a major film. His movie acting debut was a very small role in the film A Man of No Importance (1994), where his simple cast credit is as “First Young Man”. His first lead role was in the film The Disappearance of Finbar (1996). During a 6-month postponement in production he returned home to Cork and there received a call about the film Michael Collins (1996). He traveled to Dublin to meet with director Neil Jordan and successfully won the role of Collins’s assassin. Jordan wrote about his meeting with the actor, “I have found someone to play Collin’s killer. Jonathan Rees-Myers from County Cork, apparently, who looks like a young Tom Cruise. He [Jonathan] comes into the casting session with alarming certainty. Obviously gifted”.
Jonathan continued working constantly from that point and appeared in such films as The Maker (1997), Telling Lies in America (1997), and The Tribe (1998). Going on to film The Governess (1998), B. Monkey (1998), Titus (1999) and Ride with the Devil (1999/I), he has received critical acclaim for several performances, most notably as “Brian Slade” in Velvet Goldmine (1998), as “Steerpike” in the British mini-series “Gormenghast” (2000) and as a sympathetic football coach in Bend It Like Beckham (2002). Jonathan is also a talented singer and musician, having performed his own vocals in Velvet Goldmine (1998) and August Rush (2007).