Rupert Everett interview

Submitted by Paul Fischer on Thu, 05/20/2004 - 16:00

Paul Fischer: What is it that attracts you to animated films?

Rupert Everett: There's, for an actor, a good business to start with. They're a tiny piece of work to do and if you're thinking about keeping your profile going, for that reason they're good things to do. Another reason... is that I love cartoons...

PF: Why do you think you're usually or often cast as the villain?

RE: Because I'm English (laughter)

PF: What did you think of how Prince Charming looked?

RE: Well, I didn't think that he looked like me that much but then...

PF: But pretty handsome?

RE: ...he was nice (laughter). Laurie (his assistant) said he looked like me.

PF: He's really egotistical. None of that is (presumably) coming from you...?

RE: I had to build up a lot of ego. (laughter) Yeah, he's got a twist. He reminds me, really, I don't know if you know of an actor called Terry Thomas. He was an old English character actor. He was kind of vocally my role model while I was doing it. You know, that guy who's very brash up until the moment that someone frightens him and then he turns into a whiney, bratty, spoiled child.

PF: How difficult is it when you're not working with other actors? I mean you're there in the sound booth alone.

RE: It's like being a computer freak. It's like you're on your own - you just read your lines and that's it. And that's nice, actually... There's no interaction between actors coming into it so I just figure that while I'm doing it: "This is it. This is modern. This is virtual. This is what the future is."

PF: Did you see the first Shrek before getting the offer and if so what did you think of it?

RE: I loved the first Shrek... When I went (to the cinema) as a kid you saw people on the screen that you identified with. Now you see people on screen whose life you want to have. So it's a very different feeling when you go to see one now, because it's made live-action into a kind of empty void more or less. Then you get the cartoons and ...the characters have much more dimension, much more humanity and they reflect many more of the dilemmas that we have going on in our lives.

PF: You broke out after "My Best Friend's Wedding." What's your perspective on that now, looking back?

RE: It was great. It got me a lot of jobs for a while... An actor's life is very up and down most of the time and you can't really afford to spend much time reflecting on why it's up or why it's down or what's happening. Everybody has a cross to bear in their career and some people's crosses are easier to bear than others... I was never allowed to go on to the next step.

PF: You weren't allowed? Why was that?

RE: Because, I think it's a trophy business: you can maybe be black but you can't, definitely not yet, be gay.

PF: What would the "next step" be?

RE: The next step would be to play a major leading straight role in a movie.

PF: You talked about playing James Bond. You'd like to play a gay James Bond?

RE: No, I'd like to play James Bond straight.

PF: They're still casting for that, you know? You seriously have no desire to pursue it?

RE: The Bond fans would burn down MGM if the studios got a gay actor to play James Bond. (laughter)

PF: What happened to "To Kill a King?" which you shot in the UK set in England circa 1645?

RE: It's not a very good movie. I don't think it will be coming out in the States.

PF: Why is that?

RE: It's boring.

PF: How was it playing Charles I?

RE: Charles I was the best part of the movie and I'm not just saying that, because it was, everybody said so. (laughter)

PF: Didn't you shoot the execution scene at the actual location of Charles I's execution?

RE: We shot the execution scene at the historic location on the same day that he was beheaded.

PF: How creepy was that?

RE: It was very weird, actually because I'm not really a method actor, you know. I'm not one of those people who gets all (feigns an overly dramatic expression)... we were playing these real life characters and (Sharon Stone) says to me, "Has your's entered you yet?" (laughter)

And I say, "What?" (more laughter)

And so, I wasn't planning on or didn't think I was going to be "entered" by Charles I. But, on the day of my character's execution... I had to come down the staircase, like he did, walk through this big room, which he built, and then go down onto the scaffold and I'll tell was really terrifying. It was the weirdest feeling, and the only time that I've ever felt like that in acting.

PF: Getting back to what we were talking about earlier...

RE: (joking) NO!

PF: Dealing with the fact that the first Shrek had inverted human expectations, how attracted were you, as a gay man, to the idea that you'd be playing Prince Charming the quintessence of...pompousness?

RE: I don't think you should think of yourself as a gay man playing Prince Charming. You're an actor playing Prince Charming. The interesting thing about Prince Charming in this film is that he's not Prince Charming. He's a snake. So the thing that's interesting to an actor is, really, the fun you can have playing a character that is stereotypically one thing and then you're going to discover that there's another facet to him. That gives you a lot of opportunities as an actor. In terms of being "a gay man" playing Prince Charming, the only reflection that you could possibly have about that would be that it's not really worth commenting on.

PF: But don't you think that Prince Charming is a closet case? A little too close to his mum...he would never really want Fiona.

RE: He would never really want her? Well let's hope, if you say nice things about me to everyone and all the focus people, I'll prove it in the third one. (laughter)

PF: What kinds of stuff are you working on now?

RE: It's called A Different Loyalty. I did that and Stage Beauty which is in the Tribeca Film Festival next week and a French film which will be shown at Cannes and another film with Emily Watson called A Walk Through the Woods.

PF: So what do you think of the idea of method acting, that it's just not necessary to you?

RE: Everyone does what they have to do to get "turned on." ... I don't even think method is necessary in American acting now because all you need here is money really to be an actor... Now acting's all about success, in America, but when I was a kid, back when the method was really at its strongest, American cinema was a very detailed reflection of American life. You know, Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront is a reflection, it's a portrait of an American life. Mission: Impossible 2 is nothing about anything. (laughter) It's about someone having a lot of money that we want to have as well. It's a different world they're talking about... Scorsese still uses it, not many others...

PF: Which other actors do you really respect or would like to work with?

RE: All of them! Particularly the ones with the money. (laughter) I know this can sound boring, depending on how you look at it, but it's a tough job to keep going. The music business, the movie business - they're very tough businesses to keep going in. And they're mindf*cks as well on a major scale. I feel admiration for anyone who keeps it up.

PF: Why do you keep it up? Why do you keep going?

RE: Well that's what I do.

PF: Do you get disillusioned, cynical, do you want to chuck it all in ever?

RE: I get furious! Furious! You could end up a basket case... I find myself arguing not just with myself, with studio heads, business managers, people about work. It can make you angry.

PF: So how do you make progress?

RE: Because that's only one side. The other side is not that important anyway and mostly you just have to hope for an opportunity and hope to be able to do everything as well as you can when the time comes.

PF: If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing?

RE: I don't know. I don't know what I'd do.

PF: What was the last movie that got you excited?

RE: "Talk to Her" by Pedro Almodóvar, I liked a lot. You know, I like lots of movies still. In Miami, the only movie that's ever on is "Selena" and "Star Wars II." (laughter) I really enjoyed Selena. There's such a good moment in "Selena" where Selena's going into the Beverly Centre to buy an outfit and no one knows who she is and this snotty, white trash woman says; "Oh you can't afford that" and Selena goes "Okay." Then some Latino dude is delivering a package and goes "Oh! It's Selena!" And then he goes down and the camera follows him down to the hall in the back of the Beverly Centre and to every Latino person he says "Selena is in the house!" and they're all going crazy and then there's this rampage and they're all running through the Beverly Centre. All the white folks think its a terror attack but all of the Latinos are running up to the shop where this bitch is refusing to sell the dress to Selena and its really a good Hollywood moment! (laughter)