The debonair actor turns memoirist with a tell-all book.
Thu Jan 18 2007
Illustration: Rob Kelly
Though he's widely known in America for his role in My Best Friend's Wedding, over the past 25 years English actor Rupert Everett has appeared in more than 40 films, launched a (laughably misguided) career as a rock star, written two well-received novels and hobnobbed with a slew of iconic international stars.
Though he's widely known in America for his role in My Best Friend's Wedding, over the past 25 years English actor Rupert Everett has appeared in more than 40 films, launched a (laughably misguided) career as a rock star, written two well-received novels and hobnobbed with a slew of iconic international stars. His latest venture, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, is a juicy memoir spanning from his eccentric aristocratic upbringing and days as a London callboy all the way to the set of the doomed Madonna film The Next Best Thing and a straight-to-video movie with an "utterly unhinged" Sharon Stone. TONY caught the ever-dashing, and slightly cranky, 47-year-old actor while he was on the train from Paris to London, and he talked about lies and his deeply uncertain relationship with Hollywood.
You're only 47—isn't that too young to write an autobiography?
That's not so young these days. Listen, in England people are already writing their memoirs at the age of 23.
You describe yourself as having been a masterful liar when you were young. What did you lie about?
I lied about everything. I'd be a completely different person with a different name and age on different evenings and in different places. The thing about lying is, it is quite exhausting—you have to remember a lot.
Do you still lie?
If you're an actor, there's going to be a sense of fantasy about yourself, especially in the celebrity world we live in today. You give the illusion of being in control, sexy, at ease, with never a difficult moment. Those are the basic lies that all celebrities tell. For me, they're the more dangerous lies to come to terms with.
You came out in 1989—a pretty honest move for a celebrity. Are there roles you know you didn't get because you were gay?
Did that make you regret your decision to come out?
It wasn't a choice for me, to be honest. Maybe if I'd been one of those gay guys who stayed home all the time, but I loved the whole gay culture too much—there wasn't really an opportunity to be dishonest about it.
Why do you think Hollywood can't handle an out gay man in a heterosexual leading role?
There's still a great deal of bias about homosexuality. I don't think it's any more complicated than that.
Are you satisfied with your level of success?
Success, first of all, is the most nauseating word. Success now is only about sales and receipts, which, if you think about it, is not really success at all. You wind up judging yourself against the highly paid actor or the movie that made $50 million over the weekend. It's part of the real sickness of our culture.
You seem really pissed off about Hollywood.
Right at the start Hollywood makes you feel lonely. It's where the human mechanism of comparing and measurement really takes grip. I think I would have loved Hollywood in the '70s, when it was a one-restaurant town and they were making such extraordinary movies. Now I don't have a connection with it. I hate how executive it is. How it's ten companies run by ten semiliterate men.
You've had long-term affairs with women—amazing, sexy women, actually: Susan Sarandon, Paula Yates, the French actress Batrice Dalle. Wasn't this confusing?
I didn't think it was an issue, somehow. When you're young, experimenting and adventure are the most important things—you want to wait until the last minute to be put in your pigeonhole. And girlfriends are much better than boyfriends, I must say. They just look after you so well in a way that guys never do.
In the book you mention that both Julia Roberts and Madonna kind of have B.O. Do you think they'll be offended?
No, of course not! I think that's sexy.
Does it bother you that you're still best known as "that gay guy" from My Best Friend's Wedding?
Not at all. It's a certain bump in stature from being that gay guy at the hairdresser's, don't you think?
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins (Warner Books, $25.99) is out now.