Charming gay actor unfurls exceptional talent with tasty new autobio
“At several times in life one comes to a point of no return.”
So begins “Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins,” Rupert Everett’s delicious new memoir. With two novels already under his belt, the acting star ventures into non-fiction, charting various “points of no return” from the stifling confines of the British upper class to the glitter and debauchery of the West End and Hollywood.
While luring readers through 400 pages, Everett details love affairs with men and women, encounters with the rich, and friendships with bold-faced names, including Julia Roberts, Madonna and Sharon Stone. Ah, but this account is hardly an exercise in name-dropping.
Everett also flexes his literary chops with an unflinchingly honest self-appraisal. His writing is both poignant and sinfully funny. Calling from a beachside residence in Miami, the British storyteller dishes on Madonna’s cubist face and stalking Ian McKellen.
You’re earning heaps of critical praise for your literary skills. Describe your writing process.
The frustrating thing for critics and journalists is, they get all these books to read and review. Much of it is trash. And poor little me I’m always afraid my books will get buried in the pile.
I write everyday on a laptop. It took me a year-and-a-half to write this, and I traveled while I wrote. I don’t have a very good attention span. I can only write for 2-3 hours, and then I have to do something else, like go to the gym or something.
Do you prefer the laptop to being in front of the camera?
Being an actor is to be in a group situation, where everyone else tells you what to do. All actors have to do is set the alarm clock. But writing is a challenge for me, because you are on your own as a writer. That was the first doorway of pain I had to get through. Fortunately, this book practically wrote itself, to be honest. Not that it was easy. But after it was over, it sort of found its own direction.
What prompted you to write an autobiography at this particular time in your life?
I didn’t start out with the intention of writing this book. Actually, Donatella Versace was supposed to sit for an interview and she didn’t want to. So I did part of it for her. The journalist, now a friend of mine, suggested that I write a book. We went to agents and publishers, and eventually I got a book deal.
You’ve mentioned that you find the passage of time particularly fascinating. Why?
Things change so quickly now. Things move very fast. It’s not that I think they move too fast or that there is something wrong with that. I think it’s remarkable. I’m working on another autobiography one that has a very different shape than this one. It will be a comparison between all sorts of things. A comparison of “then” and “now.” All sorts of things travel, places, people.
You write about your friendship with Madonna, who you co-starred with in “The Next Best Thing.” What it’s like to be in her orbit?
Well, it’s all in the book. I write about how she has this kind of energy field around her and how she oozed sex and demanded a sexual response from those around her. She was and is mesmerizing.
You describe Madonna as “in no way conventionally beautiful.”
Yes. In the book I say she’s a bit like a Picasso.
When you write about Julia Roberts, you say, “There is a male quality to the female superstar. There has to be.” What do you mean?
It’s only an opinion, my opinion. But I think that female superstars all have this kind of baffling ambition and leadership and power. It’s only been in the last 100 years that we’ve seen women as belonging somewhere other than in front of the kitchen sink and washing dishes. These very powerful women in Hollywood still have to fight to be heard and seen in this man’s world, and I think they become slightly male because of it.
Once you were a ticket-taker for a production of “Macbeth” starring Ian McKellen, whom you proceed to stalk like a gay Eve Harrington. Had any Eve Harringtons waiting in the wings and watching your every move?
There have been a few. It’s quite irritating, actually. You don’t want to be stalked. It’s part of celebrity, it happens occasionally. It’s not my favorite subject to talk about I find it all very dodgy.
You’ve recently been asked about your affairs with women specifically with the late Paula Yates, who was married to singer Bob Geldof and had a daughter with Michael Hutchence of INXS. Do people question your sexual identity?
Look, I’m not trying to write a book about being a heterosexual. I’m gay.
What is the biggest misconception people have of you? I have no idea.
Name three things you cannot live without. Arms and legs and eyes.
What do you do in your downtime?
Sit around, really. I’m not someone with hobbies. I like to exercise and read. Right now, I’m in Miami and I’m sitting on the couch and looking out at the ocean.
I’m writing two more books. One is autobiographical the one mentioned earlier. And the other will be a novel. I’d also like to write a screenplay. I’m doing a movie, “Saint Trinians,” that’s remake of a group of films from the ’50s that centers around an unruly girl’s school. I play the headmistress and the brother.
The touring photography exhibition “Love Makes a Family” arrives in Dallas on Saturday. The collection includes dozens of images depicting LGBT families of all stripes. With accompanying first-person stories, the photos affirm and celebrate diversity. The Stokes Family, pictured, features Mama Stokes, her partner, Jaque, and sixth-grade twins Edwian and Nabowire, whose accompanying essay says, “Don’t be ashamed of who your parents are.”
After the Dallas run, “Love Makes a Family” travels to Houston, San Antonio and Austin.
On display Feb. 6-Feb. 11 at Northaven United Methodist Church, 11211 Preston Road. Opening-night reception, Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m., featuring Equality Texas Foundation executive director, Paul Scott.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 2, 2007