The most shocking paparazzi picture of the week should never have been taken.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is used to having his photo taken. That doesn’t make this OK.

As the new spy thriller Damascus Cover was being presented to the world at the Cannes Film Festival this week, its star was being “papped” on the streets of London.

Far from the glamour of the South of France, a barely recognisable Jonathan Rhys Meyers sipped from one of the two bottles of spirits he had just purchased at a convenience store, in broad daylight.

How do we know this?

photographer was there to capture the moment his distinctive lips curled around a vodka bottle lid, which he used as a shot glass as he walked down the street.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers became a household name after starring at the hot soccer coach in Bend it Like Beckham.

The Hollywood heartthrob could easily be mistaken for a homeless person.

His jacket is inside out, his fly undone and he has the tell-tale marks of spilled vodka dribbled down his t-shirt.

These photos are desperately, desperately sad.

And we are not showing them to you.

Instead, try these non-papped shots of Jonathan Rhys Meyers (post continues after gallery):

When I saw them on the Daily Mail website today, I immediately thought of all the possible alternative reasons why the Golden Globe winner may have been photographed in such a state (perhaps subconsciously trying to quiet the uneasiness I felt by viewing them).

Maybe he was coming from a bucks’ party?

Maybe, like me only two hours ago, he was out in public unwashed and unkempt because his shower was being renovated?

But as more and more details from the photos registered, the reason for my discomfort became increasingly obvious.

These images show a man in crisis.

Image via Instagram.

Rhys Meyers’ battle with alcoholism is well-known.

He has been in and out of rehab, arrested for public drunkenness, and was rushed to hospital in 2011 after a suspected suicide attempt.

He has spoken about how, for him, addiction is likely genetic. As a child, he says, he would be forced to steal food when his single mother spent all her dole money on booze.

Related story: “My mother was, and still is, a functioning alcoholic.”

While only a month ago the newly-engaged Rhys Meyers, who has three movies set to be released this year, appeared to be winning his private battle.

Now, it seems he is at rock bottom.

Which begs the question, is it ethically okay that this man’s lowest point is splashed all over our newspapers, newsfeeds and news sites just because of his profession?


Jonathan Rhys Meyers talks about his struggles with drinking in this interview (post continues after video):

The paparazzi have a job to do.

Yes, the extreme measures some snappers will go to for a photo – stalking their subjects, chasing them in cars, yelling shocking and offensive things at them to inspire a reaction and get the money shot – are deeply unethical.

But there is an argument that when you sign-up for life in Hollywood – a town that trades on looks – having your photo lawfully taken comes with the turf, enormous pay packets and extensive privileges.

Hell, some celebrities even tip-off photographers as to their whereabouts, and use the publicity for their own advantage.

The pap-snaps help keep them on the radar, keep their egos boosted and keep the ridiculously large paycheques rolling in.

And they keep our insatiable voyeuristic needs fed.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers with his fiance Mara Lane look happy sitting on Santa’s lap last December. Image via Instagram.

And the more revealing the photo – whether it be some celebrity’s ‘new face’, or the first pics of Bruce Jenner as a woman – the more valuable it is.

I don’t even want to know the amount of money the paparazzo received for these photos of Rhys Meyers, which were no doubt hailed as tabloid GOLD.

Even Ashton Kutcher weighed in on the issue this week, criticising the media for running a picture of him with his seven-month-old daughter, Wyatt.

“Why is it so hard for publications to respect that I would like the identity of my child kept private for safety reasons?” he said.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Mara Lane in happier times. Image via Facebook.

But while I’ve already forgotten what baby Wyatt looks like (all babies look the same, right?), the images of Rhys Meyers downing vodka in a London street are etched into my brain.

How will he recover from this, both personally and professionally?

The right to privacy of a public person is a complex issue, as well as a legal and moral minefield.

It’s a topic that raises so many interesting and valid questions.

But aside from all of those the sight of a man – famous or not – pouring booze down his throat in the middle of a street in broad daylight is a terribly sad sight.

A sight that should not be captured and shared with the entire world.

It’s well beyond where we should draw the line.

For more on paparazzi issues, try these articles:

Police confirm Paparazzi are not to blame for fatal accident involving Bruce Jenner.

FLUFF: Lara Bingle should be arrested, says paparazzo.

Random woman started posing for the paparazzi. Didn’t realise a supermodel was behind her.

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