Eddie Izzard is a man of many talents, and he's been entertaining the masses on both stage & screen for the past 25 years. As an actor and comedian he's toured the world and appeared in such diverse roles as a mouse in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
and a Nazi army general attempting to assassinate Hitler in Valkyrie
, where he starred alongside Tom Cruise and Kenneth Brannagh.
But it's Izzard's work in both politics and charity that sets him apart from his peers: In 2009 he completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief and earlier this year, Eddie revealed plans to run for Mayor of London in 2020.
Also known for blurring the gender lines in his self-representation, Izzard's always been relaxed with self-descriptions: he's variously described himself as transgender, "a straight transvestite," or "male lesbian" and "a complete boy plus half girl".
Jon Hornbuckle caught up with the star at the London premiere of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
to talk about London 'being ready' for a trans mayor and the media frenzy of Caitlyn Jenner and what it means for the trans community.
You've worked with Tom Cruise before and that was on Valkyrie. A film about the attempted assassination of Hitler was always going to spark conversation but why do you think it was such an important film?
It was the first time we did a film where both German and British kids could sit down and watch everyone trying to get rid of Hitler. Hitler was an obscene monster and he kidnapped a country for 12 years, so I think it's a wonderful thing for German kids because normally, could you imagine growing up where you're always on the wrong side in all of the war films so I thought that was great that that happened.
So it was more of a fairer take on a war film?
I don't know if that's the right word to use but it was something that redressed the balance because any kid that's been born since the 1940s in Germany, it's nothing to do with you. You've got to be like that guy who has just been convicted who was an SS guy. He's 91 or something, you've got to be that age to be guilty of war crimes in the second world war.
As you know, it caused a lot of controversy with the real life descendants not being happy with the portrayal of their relatives... Did that affect filming?
It was all good in the end. They realised that what we were trying to do was honourable. We were trying to put forward the story of Von Stauffenberg and the attempt to get rid of Hitler.
In the end Hitler survived this thing which was very annoying but the only good thing we could look at in the story of the film is that Hitler played every card he could play and he didn't make it. None of it worked and he had to kill himself. That kind of disgusting crime against humanity that he planned, it didn't work. So hopefully someone else looking at that in the future will think 'maybe it won't work, maybe that will work against me'.
Caitlyn Jenner has been all over the news recently - what do you make of all the media coverage?
I think it's a positive for Caitlyn Jenner. She's gone through a hell of a journey as we all do if you're transgender. I came out 30 years ago and she's done it now, it's great and the more people that come out, the more people will realise.
Her sexuality is probably the exact same as mine as a straight transgender and people used to think that doesn't exist and now they know it does exist. You can be a positive human being and still contribute to the world and still be open and positive about how you are and the British public seem to be accepting.
What did you make of the backlash to Caitlyn winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award recently?
I think courage should go to all of the people. Caitlyn said that she was given a platform and I mean, transgender hasn't had many platforms down the eons of time if you think about it. The gay and lesbian communities have pushed very hard to move things forward since the 50s, or since forever but have made traction since the 50s.
Transgender, we've always been the poor relations because we are slightly behind, we are invisible and now maybe we are just arriving on the scene. I'm applying to run for Mayor of London or member of parliament in five years time and the British public & London public don't seem really bothered about that.
Caitlyn's documentary starts this week. Will you be watching?
Oh, so it's a documentary? Absolutely, I will take a look at it. We've all got stories to tell and we are all still individuals. We do good things well we do things not so well. I'm not going to make a judgement on anyone who's transgender and coming out and being positive about it...
You mentioned going for the role of Mayor of London. Obviously it would be great to have somebody trans in such an influential role...
Or member of parliament. I think it would be positive for our country, I think our country is ready for it, our country is being very positive about it. All LGBT people have to be good at what they do. I have to be a good comedian, a good actor, a good runner and then be transgender. If you're just transgender then that's not terribly interesting.
WORDS: JON HORNBUCKLE
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