Mar
20
2011
0

Audio Interview with Nova FM (Australia)

[thanks Jean]

Meshel, Tim and Marty talk to British comic legend Eddie Izzard.

With a silky voice, the brekkie team suggest Izzard could be the perfect replacement for Morgan Freeman to “narrate everything”.

> LISTEN HERE

Written by Momo in: Interview |
Mar
09
2011
0

Eddie to do show in France…in French….

…and other goodies in this audio interview from the Jono and Dano show.

Written by Momo in: Interview |
Jan
12
2011
0

The truth about Eddie Izzard? You better believe it

[from the London Evening Standard | thanks Beth]

Eddie Izzard does not do things half-heartedly. He made this clear in 2009 when he completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief in spite of having no prior history of long distance running.

Not only was this a test of his physical ability but also demonstrated the strength of his will power. It is only natural, then, that this determination extends to his other achievements. Eddie the actor, the stand-up, the political campaigner; all have a common drive to do whatever it takes to be the best. This is what makes Eddie Izzard, born in Yemen and raised in Northern Ireland and South Wales, interesting. It is precisely why it makes sense to have created a documentary about him. It is also the reason I don’t quite know what to expect before meeting him.

When we are introduced he is not alone. Former girlfriend Sarah Townsend, who has directed Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story is by his side. She is warm, confident and not at all in the shadow of her ex. In fact, on first impressions, Izzard seems like the more retiring of the two. We make our way to a meeting room in a Soho Square office block. It is when we sit down for a cup of tea that they unwind and begin to chat.

“I asked her to make it,” says Izzard referring to the story of his life.

But Townsend was reluctant at first. With a background in theatre, comedy and music, film would be a new venture.

Townsend and Izzard first met in Edinburgh. She was running the GreyFriars Kirk House, an ex-soup kitchen which she turned into a venue for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Izzard approached her for a booking in the venue. She saw what many others did not at that time and put him on the bill. This became the first solo stand up show for which he received his prestigious Perrier Award nomination.

From her success at Edinburgh, Townsend became more involved in the UK comedy scene. She opened a comedy club in south London and then ran the Soho comedy club Raging Bull, where Eddie Izzard was the regular host for several years. Following Raging Bull, Townsend set up The Halyon Club, in Soho in early 2000. With support from local jazz musicians, The Halyon became a music, art and film club which held regular events for both up-and-coming and established artists.

“We were at The Halyon Club just when digital movies were starting to take off and I wanted to start making movies. There was a big crossover between theatre people who were starting to make films and Eddie said ‘you should direct one of my specials.’ I said I couldn’t do a multi camera shoot from zero. Maybe I could work my way up from DVD extras but I thought it was completely beyond me. Six months later I started to think it was a great idea. So I decided to do a tiny documentary and build it up from there.”

For Izzard, this was a chance to give the public an insight into his personality. The man we see oozing confidence on stage for live performances or playing quirky parts in movie blockbusters worries how people perceive him.

“I thought a documentary would be interesting because people do have a preconception of me,” he says.

“I felt I had been pigeon-holed and the truth was a lot more interesting. Sometimes you see people on chat shows and dislike them beforehand but you hear them talk and think they are all right. That happened a lot with me and it must happen with everyone else so the documentary was a way to overcome that.”

He gave Townsend permission to “dig around,” implying a great deal of trust. I suggest that the documentary is successful because of how well the pair know and are loyal to each other.

“I think that is a fair comment,” says Townsend.

“The biggest battle was to try and make him accessible to people. He can talk a great deal, do fantastic interviews and is a wonderful improviser. That is great but when it comes to a documentary and something that has to sustain itself over a much longer dramatic art than TV, he doesn’t provide endless tantrums and things that you can follow. Nor is there much revelation so it is hard to go deeper.”

Indeed. For all his on stage flamboyance, off stage Izzard seems calm and collected. Watching Townsend talk, he is remarkably passive and it is hard to imagine that this is the same man who can entertain a room of thousands with just his words and a dazzling outfit.

“I have a compressed emotional state,” he admits.

“There is a firewall that Sarah didn’t get behind for ages.”

Townsend agrees. “But it was necessary to get to that point otherwise you don’t get any self-exploration or result. It’s odd to be talking about an emotional thing with the subject in the room but I certainly think that in the years of filming and following Eddie around we often did feel like we were searching for something that really wasn’t there.

“Terry Gilliam’s documentary Lost in La Mancha, for example, was an unbelievable tale of disaster. Terrible for poor old Terry but fantastic for the filmmakers because they happen to be around and capture something like that.

“With Eddie, it was a huge struggle to find a story. What we ended up with is a collection of different edits: a very personal one but really only for fans, one that was a treasure hunt that showed no matter how far you go your past will catch up with you. Like when at a gig in Scandavia someone turned up and said I knew your father.

Eddie interrupts: “That was weird. That was the daughter of a family that we had spent the holidays with in 1965.”

But Sarah is animated and wants to finish her explanation: “It was then a matter of making stories piece together. It told a tale that was more than just Eddie. In the end I think the greatest story was endless failure can be interesting so I ramped up that aspect of it. At this time people think if they are not instantly successful they are unlucky. Actually it is about hard work.”

And Believe shows just how hard Izzard has worked. It is a frank account of his desperate struggle to be liked as a comedian and the long road to finding his niche. As a critic from the New York times put it: “The guy’s persistence alone will make you an admirer if you’re not already one.”

Izzard says: “Hopefully it could resonate with people round the world who are struggling to get anything going. They should think they could do that.”

But it took Townsend a while to get the right balance between failure and the glory of success.

“People were originally so resistant to a story that showed the ups and downs but I felt that it was important. People told me that endless failure was boring so I tried to keep it amusing. Eddie gets nominated for an award, for example, and things are looking up but then he can’t go and collect it because he is stuck up a mountain filming one of the worst movies of all time.

“Documentaries can be quite uninteresting unless you are a fan but I think the story of not giving up from anyone’s perspective has universal appeal.”

Russell Brand certainly got the message, concluding: “Believe is a lesson in how to achieve your dreams with nothing but sheer hard work.”

But the inspiration for the title Believe is often mistaken as being inspired by Izzard. It is another of the personalities that feature in the documentary that deserves the credit – Covent Garden street performer Captain Keano.

“Paul Keane plays Captain Keano,” explains Townsend. “I had met him years before I filmed in Covent Garden and he was amazing.”

His act is to untangle himself from chains and he claims to achieve the seemingly impossible through belief.

“For someone that was so aggressive and intimidating to give a piece of advice that was so life-changing surprised me. In the moment of most fear you learn your greatest lesson.

“Paul Keane hasn’t come to any of the premieres. I think he has gone all shy but he has the pivotal role in the whole thing.”

A former street performer, Izzard still has ties with Covent Garden’s community: “I go down there and hang out. I met Mark who is head of the Street Performer’s Association (SPA) and I told him I set the whole thing up. They were going to get rid of us in the Piazza so I arranged a petition for the public to sign because I knew they liked it. Then there were negotiations and it all calmed down but to come back 10 years later and see the SPA still exists is amazing. Mark is really organised. He has storage areas and all sorts.”

Townsend adds: “The street performing thing is an entire world in itself. I would love to have done a whole piece on that. Seeing all these different, interesting and intelligent personalities fighting their way through created an extraordinary vibe that has never been tapped into.”

This has clearly ignited a passion in Townsend and may be the subject of her next documentary.

After being nominated for an Emmy award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special, for Believe and having ‘great support’ from cinema chain Cineworld, which saw the documentary go out to 50 cinemas in the UK and one in Dublin, this is surely enough motivation to continue pursuing her filmmaking career.

But does Izzard still have the same sense of determination to achieve? “I think even more so,” he assures me and compares his victory to that of a battle.

“I think Sun Tzu’s The Art of War said if the troops have been out a long time they need to get a little victory. Washington did this when he was in the American Revolutionary War. He kept losing the battles against the British. At Christmas time he crossed the Delaware River and won.

“Initially it was a little hellish because I thought success was never going to happen. Once you get a little victory you want to build on it. Then you get the bit between the two. It is a lot easier now because I have seen things not work but then I have also had success. I have a ten year stamina that will keep me going even if other stuff goes wrong in the future.”

It is at this point in the interview that I begin to see the Izzard we are acquainted with in Believe. He is fired-up and talks with such passion:

“There is everything out there. If you have had to think sideways and out of the box there is always something. I don’t have a television show so I don’t have to stay locked into an idea that a commissioning editor has given me.

“I am thinking laterally so I am going to do gigs in French next year. The first time was so miserable but now I am going to go back to do it and get it right for three months. The English promoter over there used to say ‘there are 200,000 English speakers in Paris’ and I said ‘Yes, but there are 60 million French speakers in France.’

“I am doing Treasure Island, playing Long John Silver and also want to develop another drama series. I just keep trying to do decent stuff that has some impact and is useful.

Townsend laughs: “There is also space travel, there is the presidency….”

I suggest there will be a Believe 2.

“Yes,” says Izzard. “Maybe Believe 2: You Better Believe It.”

Written by Momo in: Interview |
Dec
01
2010
0

Eddie Izzard hits out at Cameron

[from shortlist.com]

Whether he’s babbling brilliantly to sold-out arenas or hobbling to the finish line after 43 marathons in 51 days, Eddie Izzard normally has a (sporadically lipstick-smeared) smile on his face. But, as ShortList found out, mentioning politics will get him fired up in no time…

>> REST OF ARTICLE

Written by Momo in: Interview |
Nov
26
2010
0

Eddie on Front Row with Mark Lawson

Eddie Izzard’s latest project is Believe, a DVD charting the comedian’s return to the stage after he was accused of fraud by the BBC’s Watchdog programme for repeating old material. In a frank interview Eddie Izzard discusses the inspiration for his comedy, his serious acting roles on stage and film, and the continuing importance of his mother, who died when he was young.

>> LISTEN HERE

Written by Momo in: Audio,Interview |
Nov
18
2010
0

Eddie Gargles Tea with Chris Moyles

[thanks Jean]

Written by Momo in: Interview,video |
Oct
12
2010
0

YOU’VE GOT TO “BELIEVE” IN FILMMAKER SARAH TOWNSEND

[from filmthreat.com | thanks BZC!]

Every once and a while you run into an interview that is so wonderfully comfortable that you almost forget that, hey, you’re conducting an interview. An interview with Sarah Townsend, the filmmaker behind the documentary “Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story,” falls into this category of “so comfortable and amazing a conversation, it’s hard to believe that I have to actually transcribe this now.” It’s almost as if you’ve had a regular phone call, albeit one filled with fascinating information, that you now have to share with the world.

This interview with Sarah took place in mid-August, 2010. At the time, Sarah and her documentary were up for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Special, and the original plan was to have the interview ready to go for the day of the Emmys so that folks could read it and, you know, find someone new to cheer for in a category that is less served than Best Actor in a Comedy Series, or what have you. As I worked on the interview that weekend, I got an email that informed me of the winners of the Emmys that were awarded prior to the live show, and the Outstanding Nonfiction Special just so happened to be one of those categories. Unfortunately, Sarah and her film were not the winners.

At that point, I had been rushing the turnaround of the interview in an effort to have it ready for Emmy night, and I was suddenly blessed with an opportunity to take what was an hour-long conversation and let it breath a bit more than what I had originally edited. So I moved on to the next story deadline I had set, and placed the interview aside, promising myself to re-visit and re-edit as soon as I could. Which brings to now, almost two months later.

“Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story” is a wonderful documentary in the way it steers clear of the obvious trappings of the comedian bio-doc. It’s often easy to just sit back and rely on the stand-up material to do most of the work, but since Eddie Izzard is such a prolific performer, and there are so many specials of his to choose from already, to allow your film to prop itself up on that material is like planning on making a “best hits” of videos that already exist. Thankfully, Townsend did nothing of the sort, taking us instead along the journey that built Izzard into the performer he is today. We follow him from sketch comedian to fringe festival street performer to stand-up comedian to world-renowned actor, and he’s right there to bring us along. It’s an intimate portrait of a man who, with such single purpose of mind and drive in the face of almost constant failure, easily could’ve achieved any goal he set for himself, given enough time. For Izzard, it was all about being a performer, and it’s not until the late minutes of the film that we get a true hint, from Izzard himself, of why he really does what he does. It’s a brilliant moment, and a brutal one.

Heading into my interview with Townsend, I was armed with all the normal, basic questions: where did the idea come from, when did you get started, how difficult was it and the like. Once we got on the phone, however, it all went out the window. For the first 10 minutes, conversation focused (or shall I say, unfocused) on Skype accounts and the strength of Blackberry’s email encryption. I knew I had to start the “interview,” but I didn’t know how. So here’s how it happened…

Read more: http://www.filmthreat.com/interviews/26735/#ixzz12ABmVIy0

Written by Momo in: Interview |
Sep
08
2010
0

Interview: Eddie Izzard on Laughs in the Park, Tony Blair’s memoirs and being a marathon man

[from thecomet.net]

The Comet spoke to British comedian Eddie Izzard, currently filming in Los Angeles, about Laughs in the Park, Tony Blair’s memoirs, being a marathon man and why the name ‘Steve’ keeps cropping up in his act.

NG: I hear you’ve been busy with acting recently but the focus will be back on comedy for Laughs in the Park. Have you ever worked with comedians Dylan Moran and Reginald D Hunter?

EI: I know both of them but this will be the first time we’ve all done a show together.
Laughs in the Park

NG: It’s a bit of a one-off all round, as Verulamium Park will be the UK’s first purpose-built outdoor stage for comedy. What happens if it rains?

EI: I will carry on if it rains – no one worries when there’s rock and roll…

I just felt, why should it always be rock and roll which has the festivals? Comics need to do their own festivals.

NG: As a Labour supporter, what do you make of Tony Blair’s comments in his memoirs

EI: I don’t think it really matters but it’s good that it came out now, as that’s a lot better than after the new leader is in place. The truth is there are always going to be difficult relationships but politicians are not going to go into great details at the time as they don’t want the two other parties – whether it’s the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives or Labour – to be going over it and over it, so these things will always come out after. But I’m not going to take sides.

NG: Stevenage hosted a Labour leadership hustings debate in July. Have you ever considered throwing your hat into the ring?

EI: I’m not moving into politics for 10 years. At the moment what I want is to have a strong leader and a lot of the people running have the experience with a new look and a new vision and direction.

NG: When your name is mentioned many seem to associate you with your incredible feat of completing 41 marathons last summer. Is that strange?

EI: That’s fine if that’s the way it’s going to go. Some people will say you know he was in that film or whatever. When I started I was known for nothing so I don’t mind that at all. And it was 43 marathons not 41, I did two extra!

NG: And finally, our deputy editor (Steve) is desperate to know why the name Steve appears in your act so much.

EI: Jeff and Steve? They’re mates from school. Comedians often invent ridiculous names and it loses the reality of it. I give them real names so that it resonates on a real level.

Eddie Izzard, Dylan Moran and Reginald D Hunter will be performing at Verulamium Park in St Albans on Friday, September 24, Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26.

Tickets start from £35. Visit www.hmvtickets.com

Written by Momo in: Interview |
Aug
23
2010
0

Race Closes on Broadway

[from playbill.com]

David Mamet’s provocative legal drama Race, starring Eddie Izzard, Dennis Haysbert, Afton C. Williamson and Richard Thomas, ended its Broadway run Aug. 21 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Mamet also directed his play, which began previews Nov. 17, 2009, and officially opened Dec. 6. Race is not only the longest-running play of the 2009-2010 Broadway season, but upon its closing after 320 performances, there will be no plays represented on Broadway until the Roundabout Theatre revival of Mrs. Warren’s Profession begins Sept. 3.

Race, which tests the dynamics of a law office when a crime is committed against a black woman, recouped its entire $2.5 million investment in late April. The original cast featured David Alan Grier, James Spader, Kerry Washington and Richard Thomas. Grier, Spader and Washington departed the production in June. Thomas is the only original cast member to remain with the play.

Producers announced Aug. 11 that plans are underway to bring the work to London audiences, as well as individual regional theatres in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, in 2011.

Here is a look at Race’s final Broadway curtain call: > PHOTO GALLERY

Written by Momo in: Photos,Race,video |
Aug
18
2010
0

 


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