Q & A - Eddie Izzard

Being the world's most famous heterosexual transvestite stand-up is no longer enough - now this British comedian wants to conquer Hollywood
Irish Examiner Weekend, April 27, 2002 | thanks Marian

Q. What prompted you to take the role in The Cat's Meow?

A. That's actually a question for the real A-list people like Russell Crowe. (Does Aussie accent) "Well, I was looking through the 17 projects I was offered that day...." (laughs)

Q. So this was the only one they offered you?

A. It wasn't the only one. I got it off the back of another film, so I was in a better position than initially, when I was getting no offers and I was desperate. Two lines in a film? Great! Anything!

Q. What's the film about?

A. For me it's about Chaplin trying to get laid on a boat (laughs hard)

Q. What about working with Kirsten Dunst?

A. She was great. She's ridiculously young but can play someone in her mid-20s and also play it with youth, which she obviously has. She's got great natural instincts as she's been acting since she was three.

Q. And Joanna Lumley?

A. It's funny because she was born in India and I was born in Yemen and we're both English and have a similar weirdness. We got on really well, but we'd have these huge arguments about God and the monarchy. She's very pro-monarchy and God and I'm sort of anti-both. So that was our only sticking point and we'd have these really quite heated arguments, which I liked, as at least we both stood our ground.

Q. There are many theories as to how Thomas Ince died. What's yours?

A. I think what we shot is probably what happened. I think that Hearst shot him. I think that Chaplin was going after Marion and I think that Marion was allowed to have relationships, but Hearst got very jealous and did it. I think he was guilty but it was all hushed up.

Q. Will you be making Hollywood your home now?

A. I've always been fascinated by Hollywood, although I realise that it's this transient place and that there's nothing really there. It's more of a feeling, a state of mind, than a real place. But I'd like to do films and do work on a global scale.

Q. Would you see yourself becoming as famous there as Charlie Chaplin?

A. No, and it doesn't appeal to me. I like to be a big cult figure. I kind of control it that way.

Q. What do Americans make of your humour when they're used to the likes of Robin Williams and Jim Carrey?

A. They get it. Think of Monty Python. That already paved the way there and in Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and everywhere. They get it, absolutely. And that's because I think there's several different senses of humour in every country.

Q. Is it a deliberate decision to move away from stand up comedy into films?

A. No, because I want to do both. I'm a big greedy person. And I seem to be in a position where I can do both.

Q. Are you looking for more dramatic roles?

A. Absolutely. That's part of the reason I hold back my comedy availability. I feel dramatic work is like food. It's a much slower drip feed drug. You don't get a broccoli high. You just eat it and it's gradually good for you. That's what drama's like for me. You slowly get drawn into the characters and into the film, and if you believe it you start seeing father/son relationships and reading your own father onto the one in the film and so on. That's when a film really takes off.

Q. You're in Revenger's Tragedy, a new film with Sophie Dahl. Can you tell us about that?

A. That's the Alex Cox film we shot in Liverpool from the play of the same name. Jacobean big body count, set 50 years in the post apocalyptic future.

Q. What about All the Queen's Men with Matt LeBlanc?

A. It's the everyday story of four soldiers parachuting into Germany dressed as women to get an Enigma machine out of a factory and back home.

Q. Do you find that you have much support for your total clothing rights stance?

A. (Laughs) Yes, there's a lot of marching happening. Bizarrely, every time I mention it, red-blooded straight men go "Yeah! Total clothing rights for men! That's what we want!" And it does become logical at that point. I think on a real level, people who are transvestites all over the world, if they see a few other people doing it, in their teenage years or early 20s, then they'll come out and gradually we'll build up numbers just like gays and lesbians have done from the '50s up until now.

Q. How much progress do you think transvestites are making in getting equal clothing rights? Will we see men in skirts in your lifetime?

A. Yeah. It's already happening. The kilt look has been around forever. The Greeks, the Romans, the Scots have all fought in kilts, and they're all pretty tough, right?