Rupert Everett Interview
Read Mike Myers interview
Read Julie Andrews interview
Forty-eight year old Rupert Everett, the openly gay actor, who went from riches to rags to riches, literally, was born in Norfolk, England to Major Anthony Michael Everett and Sara Maclean, who was Scottish, and descended from the baronets Vyvyan of Trelowarren and the German Schmiedern barons. He has an older brother, Simon Anthony Cunningham Everett. He's also a grand-nephew of Donald Maclean, the infamous spy, with whom he shares a striking resemblence. They are also both gay. From the age of 7 Rupert Everett was educated at Farleigh School, Hampshire, and later was educated by Benedictine monks at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire, but he dropped out of school aged 15 and ran away to London to become an actor. In order to support himself, he worked as a gay male prostitute, or "rent boy", as he later admitted to US magazine in 1997. After being dismissed from the Central School of Speech and Drama for insubordination, he travelled to Scotland and got a job in the avant-garde Citizens' Theatre of Glasgow.
His break came with the 1982 West End production of Another Country, playing a gay schoolboy opposite Kenneth Branagh, followed by a film version in 1984 with Colin Firth. He began to develop a promising film career, until he co-starred with Bob Dylan in the huge flop Hearts of Fire (1987). In 1989 he moved to Paris, writing a novel Hello, Darling, Are You Working? and coming out as gay, a move which some at the time perceived as damaging to his career. Returning to the public eye in The Comfort of Strangers (1990), several films of variable success followed. In 1995 he released a second novel, The Hairdresser of St. Tropez. Everett's career was revitalized by My Best Friend's Wedding (1997), playing Julia Roberts's gay friend. In 1999, he played Madonna's gay best friend in The Next Best Thing (he also sang backup on her cover of American Pie, which is on the film's soundtrack). He has since appeared in a number of high-profile film roles, often playing heterosexual leads. He is also a Vanity Fair contributing editor. In 2006 Everett published his memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. In it he revealed he had had a 6-year affair with British television presenter Paula Yates. "I am mystified by my heterosexual affairs — but then I am mystified by most of my relationships," he said, with the article describing him as bisexual as opposed to homosexual. But in a radio show with Jonathan Ross, Everett described his heterosexual affairs as resulting from adventurousness: "I was basically adventurous, I think I wanted to try everything."
Wild About Movies: Have you ever done bad dinner theater?
Rupert Everett: No, but you know, we don’t have dinner theater in the UK, but it’s a great idea. I would love to be able to eat during the theater. I’ve never done dinner theater.
Wild About Movies: So you didn’t bring that to your character?
Rupert Everett: No, not yet.
Wild About Movies: How do you think it’ll translate worldwide?
Rupert Everett: Well, we all have to get used to American phenomena, don’t we? I’m sure they’ll understand it. Dinner theater is just one thing. We don’t have sororities or first grade or tons of things that come over from American culture.
Wild About Movies: What was it like to return for the third time?
Rupert Everett: It’s great! It’s the best job to have, to be honest; I feel it’s like a golden handshake ‘cause I’ve half retired. It’s a job that you can do all over the world wherever you are. You could be in Poland and they’ll hook you up via satellite to the studio in LA. It’s state of the art. You’ve seen it. It’s beautiful looking, the sea tones, how they’ve done water, the skin tones, the magic hour, how they’ve shown the sun rays – it’s just sensationally beautiful and in that respect, it’s really a pleasure to take place in. Every time you go back, they’ve done something else, and they’ve got such an attention to detail that it’s a brilliant job. It’s not an impossible job, maybe if you were an actor starting out, maybe you’d be nervous ’cause you’re on your own acting – you don’t have anyone to go to come up with a performance straight away. There’s no rehearsal, and you don’t investigate who your character is. You have to come up with it and that’s like riding a bicycle. Once you learn how to do it, you can do it. At that point, it’s a great job. It’s a really great job.
Wild About Movies: How much did the script change in the years they worked on this?
Rupert Everett: They don’t change the story line, you sometimes go in and they’ve reworked something and they’ve refined rather than changed. It’s so carefully thought out. That’s what’s nice. In the old days, when filmmaking was less expensive, filmmaking was done like that, too. People would think about every frame of a movie and design and costume and everything. We can’t do that anymore, and film is so expensive, and mostly you don’t have any money for that. Occasionally, for example, Spielberg, you see a Spielberg film and the reason they look so extraordinary, I think, is because he has the money to have attention to every single detail. Most films are rushed. And this is like that – they think about everything, and it’s a pleasure to be a part of.
Wild About Movies: Is that you singing in this?
Rupert Everett: Yes.
Wild About Movies: I noticed you sang with one note just slightly off. Did they ask you to do that?
Rupert Everett: Well, it wasn’t in my register.
Wild About Movies: Did you have fun doing that?
Rupert Everett: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was lovely. That song is great.
Wild About Movies: Did you do that several times?
Rupert Everett: Several days, actually. We did it one time, and then I went in and did it again. But, no, it was great. He’s a really funny character, really. He’s a villain, but he’s hopeless. He’s also someone who never gets his chance in life, and he’s been brought up wrong. He’s been spoiled too much. I think he’s been spoiled a lot and he’s weak and he thinks it’s going to come naturally, and it doesn’t, and then he tries to make it come to him unnaturally. So in one sense, I have a lot of sympathy for him. He never gets his chance.
Wild About Movies: Are you a fan of animation in general?
Rupert Everett: I love animation, yeah, but I love animated films. I think they shed more light on society than live action does really, to be honest. I think Shrek and Simpsons and South Park – I think they tell you much more about the world than Maid in Manhattan or Mission Impossible. Live action doesn’t seem to tell you anything. It’s all wannabe characters and fantasy relationships and political correctness. I think it’s really dwarfed.
Wild About Movies: Why do you think that is?
Rupert Everett: Because political correctness means you can only smoke a cigarette if you’re the villain, right? Now, we know that’s not – there’s good people, I’m not pro or against smoking, but you could be a saint and smoke. You can’t be in a movie. That’s just one example. But political correctness means nothing can happen that doesn’t have a moral outcome. It kills cinema dead because then everything becomes – For example, if you have a couple, two kids in love, everything has to come out with some moral tie-in so that it’s acceptable politically. It’s totally uncreative.
Wild About Movies: So why do you think you can do that in animation?
Rupert Everett: For some reason, particularly in this country, if you look at animation, it’s so much more edgy than anything you’d ever be able to do. You wouldn’t be able to have someone fart in a bath in a live action movie. It just wouldn’t happen. But for some reason, we stand one step back from a cartoon or something – I don’t know what it is.
Wild About Movies: South Park can take a headline from Monday and put a show on the following Wednesday.
Rupert Everett: Well, that’s the other thing that’s very different from live action cinema and things like Shrek, where a lumbering machine – we can’t come up with a response to what happened last week very fast.
Wild About Movies: How was it working with the new director? Did you feel like you knew the character better?
Rupert Everett: I always feel like I know more about the character than the director, so that’s nothing new. No, he’s really nice and they’ve both been very nice directors to work with. It’s really fun working on cartoons ’cause you have to enlarge everything that you say. It’s a very good lesson for acting actually, ’cause when you look at a cartoon character acting out a scene, there’s not one emotional beat in the image that’s not – it’s all there. Everything’s a bit larger than if you were acting in a live action movie, and it’s fascinating, actually, ’cause they don’t miss out on one emotional beat of a sentence. So when you’re acting out a scene, you have to draw it out to be the same length as cartoons, and it’s very interesting for acting, I think. Cartoons can teach you a lot about acting.
Wild About Movies: Where did you record this one?
Rupert Everett: This film, I was in Hong Kong, Berlin, I’ve been in London, I’d been in New York and I’ve been in Los Angeles.
Wild About Movies: What’s it like recording this in Hong Kong?
Rupert Everett: It’s all done by satellite, so you’re on satellite.
Wild About Movies: Have you seen yourself become more of a Prince Charming?
Rupert Everett: In my gay life? No, I don’t really identify myself with Prince Charming because the film isn’t really an allegory on Hollywood. I guess it’s about everyone getting their ‘happy ever after’ in their career, and I think we all feel a bit cheated out of certain things sometimes. So I feel a bit sympathetic to him on that. He goes in the wrong direction with it. Life makes him angry and that’s a sad thing, because life does often make us furious. But again, that’s very profound in the movie, what makes us insurgent, what makes normal people into the villain. I think it’s a really good film in that sense. It has a childish area to it, and something that really works on you on another level for you.
Wild About Movies: When you’re in the booth, do you have the script in front of you or does the director tell you where you are?
Rupert Everett: Yeah, they show you a big storyboard of the scene that they’ve written out so you know what’s going on.
Wild About Movies: Do they feed you anything?
Rupert Everett: They do. You read the scene with the director and they play the other parts, but you have an idea on the storyboards about what’s going on.
Wild About Movies: Have you been shooting things all over the world? Is that why you were traveling?
Rupert Everett: Just now, I’ve been making a film. And before that, I wrote a book, an autobiography and I’ve been going around the world promoting that. And before that, I was writing it.
Wild About Movies: And you’re in Stardust?
Rupert Everett: Stardust is about a parallel universe next door to the real world. It’s a really good film made by Matthew Vaughn. I play a character who’s pushed off a roof at the beginning of the film and then he becomes a ghost. It has some great performances in there – Michelle Pfeiffer’s best performances ever. She becomes really old, 300/400 years old and she’s amazing. She looks incredible, just very good.
Wild About Movies: What is the time period?
Rupert Everett: The time period is kind of, I should say, 18th/19th century, you’re not quite sure when it is. But it’s kind of 19th century, very 19th century it takes place – great story.
Wild About Movies: Was it on green screen?
Rupert Everett: It’s all green screen.
Wild About Movies: How was that for you?
Rupert Everett: It was so boring, so boring; I’ve never been so bored in my life – and that was my most bored ever -- standing in front of a piece of green screen in a studio. Some people do it for months. I only did it for a few weeks. But it really does get you down.
Wild About Movies: Did any of your characters not on green screen come and do the lines with you?
Rupert Everett: No, because a whole lot of us are dead. Every show, someone else died and they all joined this horrible green screen world. And what happens in green screen – the worst thing is it takes forever. The scene, your scene has been shot years ago so there’s all these little dots where this happened and that happens, and you’re so bored you can’t concentrate on what’s going on and then you get everything wrong. Then this happens there and you have to move your eye up to there – it’s as boring as it gets.
Wild About Movies: What’s it like seeing the movie?
Rupert Everett: It is amazing when you see the movie.
Wild About Movies: What did you think when you saw those scenes?
Rupert Everett: It made me laugh. You can’t take this movie seriously when you’ve been through that. You can’t really look at a movie you’ve been in. You’re always remembering what happened that day when you were doing green screen or anything. It’s difficult to look at a movie, and so this is great; you’ll get carried away by it.
Wild About Movies: What about seeing your character in Shrek?
Rupert Everett: Yeah, apart from when you first hear your voice in your character, then you get used to it, and you just enjoy the movie. I saw this yesterday and just enjoyed it.
Wild About Movies: What movie are you working on now?
Rupert Everett: I’m working on a movie called St. Trinians, which is a remake of an old English movie, a series of movies about an English girls’ school – they’re remaking it.
Wild About Movies: Did you enjoy the writing process of your book?
Rupert Everett: Very much, yeah. Not so much putting it out, but I enjoyed writing it. Putting it out – selling books is a lot harder than selling a movie. You know it takes a lot to get a book moving and you have to promote a lot, and I think selling books and book shops and just getting used to that was quite tough.
Wild About Movies: But the actual writing process?
Rupert Everett: Yeah, I loved it.
Wild About Movies: Why did you write it?
Rupert Everett: It just came about really by chance; I’d written a couple books before, novels and I’d always meant to start writing again. I’d made friends with a journalist, and she encouraged me to start writing down stories I had, and eventually, you go to an agent who took me to some publishers and it all just happened. And I wanted to take some time off from acting and it was a good punctuation mark in that way. I wrote it in the course of about a year and a half and I traveled a lot in that time. It’s very different from acting which is a job you do with a lot of people. When you’re a writer, which is a job you do on your own, I really loved that. I stayed in hotels and wrote in the mornings, and did fun stuff in the afternoons – it was really nice.
Wild About Movies: What’s the name of it?
Rupert Everett: It’s called "Red Carpets and other Banana Skins."
Wild About Movies: What happened to the Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2?
Rupert Everett: She did die.
Wild About Movies: That’s why she wasn’t in this one? You kept looking at her picture.
Rupert Everett: I kept trying to bring her back. She was a great character, too.
Wild About Movies: Did you voice a character for Shrek the Halls?
Rupert Everett: Yeah.
Wild About Movies: What’s it like being a character in the Dylan Dog comic strip? Are they working on an animated feature?
Rupert Everett: They’re working on an animated feature? Are they? No, I didn’t hear about it.
Wild About Movies: Is there a chance you could return in Shrek 4?
Rupert Everett: Yes, there’s a chance. There’s always a chance, if it happens.