Rupert Everett is setting the record straight, so to speak, about controversial remarks he gave to The Guardian in 2009.
In that interview, Everett said he believed that coming out as gay ruined his career as a leading man in "very right-wing" Hollywood.
"It doesn't work if you're gay," Everett confessed to The Guardian at the time, adding, "It's not that advisable [to be an out actor] to be honest. It's not very easy. And, honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out."
At a recent press event for The Happy Prince — in which Everett portrayed his idol, Oscar Wilde — Everett clarified that these remarks from nearly a decade ago were never intended as advice for gay actors.
"I would never advise anyone to do anything," said Everett, who cut off the reporter before the question was finished. "I think advice is one of the most revolting things that people think it’s their right to give or take. I don’t think you should take advice or give it. I think every actor should do exactly what they feel. You have to be a light to yourself in these things, and no one else can tell you what to do. And I never, ever told actors that should come stay in the closet or do whatever."
In The Happy Prince, Everett shows the downfall and death of Wilde — the great Irish writer whose plays earned him fame and then infamy after his 1895 conviction of "gross indecency" under Britain's antigay laws. The film, which Everett also wrote and directed, depicts how Wilde was ridiculed by society for being gay until his sad death in 1900 at age 40.
For Everett, Wilde's story was "very personal."
"The film really came out of my feelings with my own relationship as a gay man to the world. So I wanted to write a character whose life was defined by his kind of gay relationship to the world. So it’s a very personal story to me. He’s kind of a Christ figure in a way to me, half man half god," Everett said, adding "Like a Christian looks to Jesus, I carry my cross and look to Oscar Wilde."
The out actor also discussed what Wilde's story can teach the modern-day LGBTQ community in its struggle for equality.
"It can be inspiring because we can see just how far we've come since that time. And also it's a warning, because in other parts of the world — in Russia, in Jamaica, in Uganda — it really is a life-and-death challenge to be a gay, a lesbian, or a transgender," he said. "We have to take pride in where we've got to, but be mindful of where we could go."
"I think one of the problems with the modern world is we've become hysterically angry about everything," he said, in response to the reporter's characterization of these times as "disheartening" for the LGBTQ community. "We've done great in the last 70 years. We've made huge strides. And of course, there's more things to come and things to develop. I think we have to look at our lives here and compare them to being gay in Russia" and other anti-LGBTQ places.
Watch the interview with Everett below, and don't miss The Happy Prince out in select theaters October 6.