When Jeremy Irons plays bad, he’s good. And in his newest film, “The House of the Spirits,” he’s very, very good. “People always ask me why I play these bad guys like Claus von Bulow,” Irons said at the New York premiere of the film the other night. “I say, look around this room — it’s full of bad guys. There are a lot to play.”

But there were no obviously menacing characters in the VIP room at the party at the Burden Mansion — except perhaps the guards who weren’t going to let Teri Polo in.

“I’m an actress — I’m in the film,” she told them. “Really. They’ll vouch for me,” she pleaded, pointing to director Bille August and Miramax head Harvey Weinstein.

Among those who’d already gained entry were Carly Simon, director Barbet Schroeder, Gabriel Byrne and Kenneth Jay Lane.

Meryl Streep, who also stars in the film, was particularly pleased to see Lane. “I have to tell you, Jack Nicholson gave me a piece of yours for Christmas. I love it,” she told him.

Streep was remarkably friendly and relaxed, kissing her family and friends, and chatting about a quick press trip she just took to promote “Spirits” in Europe.

“I was in Germany for 45 minutes,” Streep said. “I went on a German talk show that was very funny. The host asked me if I could darn socks and when I told her ‘yes,’ she gave me a lie detector test.”

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