Rupert's return

Coming back to The Advocate after a nearly seven-year absence, Rupert Everett talks about playing Stage Beauty’s king in drag, trying to make a gay James Bond movie, and killing John Schlesinger

BY Michael Giltz

October 25 2004 11:00 PM ET

Rupert Everett is
suddenly on a roll. He voices the foppish, hair-tossing
Prince Charming in Shrek 2, the biggest hit of the
year and the top-grossing animated film of all time.
(It comes out on DVD on November 5, joining the
just-released special edition of his breakthrough 1984
film, Another Country.) The out actor is also
on-screen in the key role of a cross-dressing King
Charles II in the current Oscar hopeful Stage
Beauty,
with Billy Crudup and Claire Danes.
Soon, Everett will join Emily Watson and Tom
Wilkinson in Separate Lives, the directorial
debut of Oscar-winning Gosford Park
screenwriter Julian Fellowes, and will reunite with
Another Country’s director on A
Different Loyalty,
with Sharon Stone.
There’s also that MIA Russian epic he made with the
legendary Sergei Bondarchuk (War and Peace), and he
voices the role of the Fox in the anticipated
blockbuster The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the
Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Is it any wonder Everett’s exhausted when
he arrives spot on-time for a chat at a restaurant in
Manhattan’s West Village, where he currently
lives? Everett, who’s greeted in Italian by the
staff, who know him on sight, is very polite and quite
comfortable and candid. Maybe it’s that second
declared bankruptcy. “It’s tremendously
releasing,” he assures The Advocate. “I
can’t advise it too strongly.”

Do you like politics?
Yes, very much.

I don’t know how you feel about Tony Blair. We
wanted him to be our president at first.
Blair is a mystery. I think God plays a role in this
whole thing. I was talking to my mum the other day,
who is a staunch Republican. We were having one of
those mother-son arguments about politics that don’t
go anywhere. I said, “What do you think George Bush
and God talked about that time when George Bush asked
about going into Iraq? Mummy, do you really think God
said, ‘Yes, you should go and lop off some
Iraqis?’ ” And my mum went, “Well,
you never know. He’s a very funny man, God.”

My father is slightly to the right of Mussolini.
My mother is slightly to the right of Imelda Marcos.

But not as many shoes?
No.

In Stage Beauty, you play your own son, which is
fun. [Everett plays Charles II, while in the 2003
British film To Kill a King he played
Charles I, that monarch’s doomed father.]
That was really fun, playing the son of a father in
Stage Beauty. That was what I liked most,
because in the category of your own work,
that’s kind of a fun thing to do. Also, to play
scenes where you’re talking about your father
and you’re imagining
yourself—it’s great. For someone who is not a
Method actor, I thought it was about as methodical as
I could possibly get.

Now you have to play Cromwell, who beheaded Charles I. I
know you went to Catholic school. Did you
practice, or are you practicing?
Am I a practicing Catholic? No, I’m a practicing Buddhist.

Not even for your mother at Christmas?
Yes, I do [go to church then], and I love Christianity.
But the Catholic Church and Christianity in general I
find unsatisfactory, because since the third century
they’ve been hijacked by neocons. If you look
at Christianity before the third century, you discover a
very different thing.

You were on the cover of The Advocate in January
1998, and you didn’t seem interested in
carrying the gay banner and saying,
“I’m the out gay actor, and other people
should come out too.” But is there any
disappointment that there haven’t been more
people coming out?
Well, selfishly, less is more for me, right? [Laughs]

You get to be the gay actor. “Get me Rupert!”
I don’t think it’s something I’d advise.

Really?
Not in show business. Not in a trophy business like
Hollywood. I don’t think it’s ideal. I
think it’s very lucky for me to have been
English and to have the opportunities to work in all the
various different places that I could so I could keep going.
French cinema, Italian cinema, theater, English
movies, and getting a Hollywood one if I can. I think
if I had been an American…it’s
definitely not a…a…friendly environment,
really. I don’t want to particularly elaborate
on that.

Do you wish you hadn’t done it?
No. I have a very old-fashioned way of thinking about
the business and my career. I thought when I started
out that your life was kind of it. All the actors I
saw and loved from the ’50s and the ’60s
were people who stretched their lives out like a bodybuilder
stretches muscles out.

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