25 September 2012

Rupert Everett

British actor Rupert Everett (1959) grew up in privileged circumstances, but the wry, sometimes arrogant intellectual was a rebel from the very beginning. He had his breakthrough in Another Country (1984) as an openly gay student at an English public school in the 1930’s. He has since appeared in many other films including The Comfort of Strangers (1990), My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) and An Ideal Husband (1999).

Rupert Everett
British postcard by Underground, no. U34.

Male Prostitute
Rupert James Hector Everett was born in Burnham Deepdale, Great Britain to Major Anthony Michael Everett and his wife Sara née Maclean. He has a brother, Simon Anthony Cunningham Everett. Everett was brought up as a Roman Catholic. From the age of seven, he was educated at Farleigh School, Hampshire, and from the age of thirteen he followed classes by Benedictine monks at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire. At this prestigious Roman Catholic public school, he trained classically on the piano. He dropped out at 16 and ran away to London to become an actor. In order to support himself, he worked as a male prostitute for drugs and money. After being dismissed from the Central School of Speech and Drama ((University of London) for clashing with his teachers, he travelled to Scotland and got a job at the avant-garde Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow. Everett's break came in 1981 at the Greenwich Theatre and later West End production of Another Country. He played a gay schoolboy opposite Kenneth Branagh. His character, Guy Bennett, is based on the double agent Guy Burgess. The play was filmed, Another Country (1984, Marek Kanievska) with Cary Elwes and Colin Firth. Brian J. Dillard at AllMovie: “Rupert Everett and Colin Firth give strong, economical performances as the homosexual dandy and the fervent Marxist who, for different reasons, chafe at the restrictions of their society. Both characters are callow and self-absorbed, but Firth's principled thinker and Everett's ambitious romantic undergo subtle transformations that make them ultimately sympathetic.” Everett followed on with Dance With a Stranger (1985, Mike Newell), based on the true story of Ruth Ellis (portrayed by Miranda Richardson), the last woman to be executed in England. In Italy he starred in the Gabriel Garcia Marquez adaptation Cronaca di una morte annunciata/Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1987, Francesco Rosi) with Ornella Muti. Everett began to develop a promising film career until he co-starred with Bob Dylan in the huge flop Hearts of Fire (1987, Richard Marquand). Around the same time, Everett recorded and released an album of pop songs entitled Generation of Loneliness. Despite being managed by the largely successful pop svengali Simon Napier-Bell (who steered Wham! to international fame), the public didn't take to his change in direction. The shift was short-lived, and he would only return to pop indirectly by providing backing vocals for his friend Madonna on her 1999 cover of American Pie and on the track They Can't Take That Away from Me on Robbie Williams' Swing When You're Winning in 2001. Then, Everett disappeared for a while, taking up residence in Paris and writing a semi-autobiographical novel, Hello, Darling, Are You Working?. He also came out as gay.

Ornella Muti
Ornella Muti. French postcard, 1982, sent by mail in 1985. Photo: Angelo Frontoni.

Zombie Killer
Rupert Everett returned to the screen opposite Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren in The Comfort of Strangers (1990, Paul Schrader). He was successful as the fat and lazy Prince of Wales (the later George IV) in The Madness of King George (1994, Nicholas Hytner), and appeared among the all star cast of Prêt-à-Porter (1994, Robert Altman). The Italian comics character Dylan Dog, created by Tiziano Sclavi, is graphically inspired by him. Everett also appeared in a film adaptation, Dellamorte Dellamore/Cemetery Man (1994, Michele Soavi) as a killer of zombies. In 1995 he released a second novel, The Hairdressers of St. Tropez. His film career was revitalized by his award-winning performance in the comedy My Best Friend's Wedding (1997, P.J. Hogan), playing Julia Roberts' gay friend. Robert Firsching at AllMovie: “Rupert Everett is terrific as Roberts' gay confidant, and there are some surprising scenes, including a woman with her tongue stuck to an ice sculpture in a most untoward location. It was a huge hit at the box office, with enough genuine romance to satisfy purists and enough bite for those with a slightly different attitude.” Everett has since appeared in a number of high-profile film roles, including as Christopher Marlowe in Shakespeare in Love (1998, John Madden), as Lord Arthur Goring in An Ideal Husband (1999, Oliver Parker) and as Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999, Michael Hoffman). In 1999, he also played Madonna's best friend in The Next Best Thing (1999, John Schlesinger), and the villainous Sanford Scolex/Dr. Claw in Disney's Inspector Gadget (1999, David Kellogg) with Matthew Broderick.

Rupert Everett
British postcard by Statics, London, no. PC61.

The First Vibrator
Rupert Everett became a Vanity Fair contributing editor and wrote a film screenplay on playwright Oscar Wilde's final years. He also appeared in another film adaptation of a Wilde play, The Importance of Being Earnest (2002, Oliver Parker) with Colin Firth. Later roles include his royal portrayals in To Kill a King (2003, Mike Barker) and Stage Beauty (2004, Richard Eyre). In 2006, he published a memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, in which he revealed he had a six-year affair with British television presenter Paula Yates. Since then, Everett lead the 2007 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, played a double role in the film St. Trinian's (2007, Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson) and the sequel St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold (2009, Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson), and has appeared several times on TV, regularly causing some outrage. In recent years, Everett has returned to his acting roots appearing in several theatre productions. He made his Broadway debut in 2009 in the Noël Coward play Blithe Spirit, starring alongside Angela Lansbury. During the summer of 2010 he played in a revival of Pygmalion as Professor Henry Higgins at the Chichester Festival Theatre and reprised this role in 2011, at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End, starring alongside Diana Rigg as Higgins mother and Kara Tointon as Eliza. He also had a part in the comedy film Wild Target (2010, Jonathan Lynn), starring Bill Nighy, and the comedy , Tanya Wexler) about the first vibrator. Although Rupert Everett urged in 2009 gay stars not to 'come out' and to keep their sexuality a secret as it could end their film career’, he himself is a living testament disproving the theory that a truly talented and successful romantic leading man cannot survive the career-killing stigma of being openly gay.

Trailer An Ideal Husband (1999). Source: Adair Cairell (YouTube).

Trailer Hysteria (2011). Source: Playscope (YouTube).

Sources: Robert Firsching (AllMovie), Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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