Eddie Cuts Up Rough
(Evening Standard | August 8, 2002 | thanks AM & Mimi)

Eddie Izzard finally gets the role he born to play: the incestuous, aristocratic degenerate Lussurioso in Revengers Tragedy. Now starring in Alex Cox's screen version of the blackest of Jacobean tragedies, Izzard has been amused by the audience response to his costume in the movie, which has just premiered at the Locarno Film Festival.

"I heard it described as post-apocalyptic Oxfam," he says. "It has those strange elements of punk new Romantic -- motorbike boots and a Regency jacket."

As a cross dressing heterosexual, Izzard is no stranger to controversy over his appearance, but there were darker elements in the role that brought back alarming memories of teenage self-mutilation. As Lussurioso, Izzard persuaded Cox that the character keeps cutting his face to reopen a wound.

"That's what I did when I was a teenager," he says, "I thought it suited the character. When I was a teenager, I was caught by a rugby boot with metal studs. It was around the time of Adam Ant. I had these two lines on my face that looked kinda cool. When they started to heal, I started to cut them back in with a razor blade. They were battle scars. So I thoguht it would be good to give it to Lussurioso. It seemed nicely fucked up."

Izzard's look is perfectly in keeping with Cox's revisionist view of Tourneur's immortal tragedy. Transplated from 17th century Italy to 21st century post apocalypse England, the play's preoccupations with social collapse, cancerous artistocratic evil, ultra decadence, revenge and farcical blood-letting (the plays ends with 11 corpses on stage) are very much intact, with a few anachoronistic embellishments thrown in for good measure.

"The strange lower eyelash thing is a salute to A Clockwork Orange," says Izzard. "It's just a small thing but it is odd and distinctive. People have been noticing it."

Revengers Tragedy opens in February 2003.