Eddie Izzard: The Independent Spirit Speaks


The irreverent star opens up about hosting Friday’s anti-Oscars (known as the Independent Spirit Awards) — and what it’s like to run 43 marathons in 51 days for charity: “I think we can all do way more than we think we can do.”

The Independent Spirit Awards have always enjoyed a level of outsider status. Smart, irreverent, and free of the burden of Hollywood politics, these film awards represent a refreshing antithesis to the Oscars. And this year will be no different.

While other award shows scramble to boost their sagging ratings by throwing some recognizable mainstream stars into tuxedos and pointing them in the direction of a teleprompter, the Spirit Awards turn to a man who can pull off a cocktail gown as well as a black tie.

On Friday March 5, actor/comedian Eddie Izzard will join the ranks of past Spirit Awards hosts such as Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman and Samuel L. Jackson when he takes the stage for the show’s 25th Anniversary (broadcast live and uncut on IFC, starting at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. EST).

The man who describes himself as an “executive” transvestite sits down with Tonic to explain why this should be his only shot at hosting an award show — and to talk about his charitable work for Sports Relief, including the remarkable feat of running 43 marathons in 51 days.

What are you going to bring to hosting the Independent Spirit Awards that previous hosts have not?

I’m going to bring a duffel bag…. I have no idea. I’m not hankering to host award shows. I’m going to do this one for them, but then I won’t do any ever again. So this will be it.

Why do the ISA’a get your only attempt at hosting an award show? What if the Oscars called tomorrow and asked you to fill in?

This awards show seems interesting to me. I don’t want to do the Oscars, they could offer me anything they want, but I don’t want to do award shows at all. I’m doing this for them because the guy that they had doing it, his head fell off, but they sewed it back on, and he’s fine, but I thought I’d come in and lend a hand.

Is this the only award show that fits your personality enough for you to host it?

It’s the Independent Awards! I like Independence. I like 1776, America, the Declaration of Independence. Not the Declaration of let’s make cash, or not have a health system for anyone in the country, or the declaration of believing in God so much that he gets in the way of
babies and chickens … but it’s the Independence thing, that beginning bit — that’s why I’m doing it. I’m a transvestite with a career. If that hasn’t got independence written all over it, I don’t know what the fuck has!

If this is your only stab at hosting, does that ad extra pressure to perform?

I actually think they just want someone who can host it, and point to people from the stage, and say “Hey, you there …” I suppose that I have to try and be amusing in some shape or form, but I’m not going to do that thing where you point at people and are like, ‘Hey, there’s Stevie Jim Jams! He’s named after pajamas, and he does very good pajama work.’ I’m not going to do that; I’m not going to take the piss out of the films, that’s not my thing. I just want to put the thing on, and talk about how desperate we are for people to give us recognition. The fact that we’ve done good films, that should be enough, but now we want this extra thing where you can take home metal that you can kill people with. That is what is really important.

Are there any films, or actors in particular that are nominated that you are pulling for?

I haven’t seen any of them yet, but I’m sure they’re all great. It makes me even-handed, and I’m not voting on them. I don’t even know who does vote … Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and they’re going to vote on the Independence, which they did in their wills. It’s a numerology thing, and that’s how it’s decided.

Last year you did a seven-week marathon run through the United Kingdom for charity. What would posses a man to wake up one day and decide that he wants to run 43 marathons in 51 days?

Sports Relief. There was Comic Relief, much like the one here, and there is one in Britain, and they’re not really the same, but both use comedy to raise money for Africa, and they started a sister charity called Sports Relief, where they encourage people to do sporting challenges, usually from non-sporting backgrounds. That’s what gets the biggest interest. If an Olympian does sporting stuff, you go,
‘Yeah, well, okay …’

How did your involvement come about?

They said, ‘Do you want to do anything?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll run around the country.’ Actually, I had wanted to do a big adventure for some time, and I got the impression that I was designed for running. I was going to do a different challenge, but then I thought if I was going to run around the country, maybe I could just do it for them, and they would have doctors. They had no doctors that could plug you in and say, ‘Actually, you’re going to die in three minutes …’ or, ‘No, you’re good. Do this.’ So, I said, ‘I’m going to do it anyway, do you want to come down and do it together?’ And so it sort of came to be, and it happened.

I have to go back to it, because it seems like such an undertaking. Anyone who has done even one marathon knows how grueling it can be, and you did 43 in a row. How did you get your body to go along with the idea?

I think anyone could do it. I don’t think it’s actually that interesting that I did it … (laughs) Actually, I think it’s quite interesting, I just don’t think that it’s that special that I did it. Before you do a marathon, you don’t think you can do a marathon, and then you do a marathon and you think, ‘Hey, I can do a marathon!’ and you prove yourself wrong. It’s what we think that we can do. Going to the moon. We didn’t think we could go to the moon, and we did. Driving a car, when you’re a kid you think, ‘How do my parents drive a car? That’s insane!’ and then one day you’re driving cars. I think we can all do way more than we think we can do.

How do you top something like that? What’s your next “big adventure”?

I don’t like talking about it because I don’t want to curse myself. (laughs) I’m going to do other stuff. Just bigger, better … and another something that begins with the letter ‘B’.

Written by Momo in: Interview |

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