By Melissa Rose Bernardo
11 Jul 2010
The last time many of us saw Eddie Izzard, he was dressed to kill: in a cheongsam, or perhaps a bustier and leather mini, smudged eyeliner and deep berry lipstick, teetering about in spike-heeled dominatrix boots and riffing on such subjects as frumpy English queens and Christopher Walken (Izzard doing Walken doing Shakespeare is absurdly funny — and available on YouTube). Currently, however, he's in legal-eagle mode, suited up as "warhorse" lawyer Jack Lawson, banging on about sex and lies in David Mamet's hot-button Broadway play Race.
At first, it may look strange — seeing the self-described "British European," cross-dressing comic on stage at the Barrymore Theatre pontificating about a red sequined dress which may or may not have been ripped off by his alleged rapist client (Richard Thomas) — as opposed to, you know, wearing a red sequined dress. But Izzard has always been drawn to weighty stage roles — the dad of a brain-damaged daughter in Broadway's A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2003), troubled '60s comic Lenny Bruce in the West End revival of Lenny (1999)…dating all the way back to 1994, when he played a creepy gay enigma in the world premiere of Mamet's The Cryptogram. (On picking Mamet for his first professional stage production: "Well, I'm a transvestite who runs marathons, so I haven't been known to be a shrinking violet.")
"I seem to have the ability to apply myself to wherever I feel I want to go," he says. "I seem to have gotten quite good at stand-up." Selling out Madison Square Garden in January would seem to prove that. "And I couldn't do stand-up to save my life when I started. It was a year and a half between the first two gigs. My drama ability started off and it wasn't terribly good; I've developed that." See: a 2003 Tony nomination.
His next challenge? Politics. "I'm standing for election in ten years' time in the U.K.," reveals Izzard, who recently finished a 25-city campaign on behalf of the Labour Party. "Socially progressive people make the world move forward."
And of his ten-year plan, well, "I'm going to have to shoot the career in the head — or put it into deep hibernation," he reasons.
"I have a fine wine approach — I get better over years," says the 48-year-old actor. So by the time he's, say, 80… "I should be on top of my game!"