Rupert Everett

F.O.M.

Rupert Everett made his breakthrough playing Julia Roberts' gay friend in My Best Friend's Wedding, a role so beloved by test audiences that Everett was given more scenes. Since then, he's gone on to star in the heralded Oscar Wilde adaptation An Ideal Husband, as well as last summer's inexcusable Inspector Gadget. Now he's back playing the gay best friend, of Madonna this time, in the new The Next Best Thing. The Onion A.V. Club recently spoke to Everett about his real-life friendship with Madonna, his writing, and the mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The Onion: I read an interview with you recently. It started out with a cursory little introductory paragraph, and it said, "There are many reasons to envy Rupert Everett: He's handsome, a good actor, and friends with Madonna." Now, handsome, okay. Good actor, that's okay. But should you envy somebody because he's friends with Madonna?

Rupert Everett: They said I was...

O: In an enviable position.

RE: I suppose it's just one's mental perspective. I don't know. Umm... I guess that's interesting.

O: It almost belittles your position. You're second to her celebrity.

RE: Yeah. One's position is always being belittled in show business at some point or other. I suppose, you know, I hadn't thought about it that way. I suppose it could seem like that.

O: It just makes you seem like a pet, almost.

RE: Madonna's pooch. The thing is, she's a very, very famous person, so she's bound to... I'm bound to take part, be on her coattails. And, yes, there's some humor about it. If you started getting nit-picky about things like that...

O: I understand. But it's interesting. Celebrity is what it is, but it's odd to say that you envy somebody, not because you're famous—because you, by definition, are famous—but because you're friends with someone who's more famous. That's really bizarre. Envy is a strong word, and in the grand scheme of things, it's not, "I envy you because you're friends with Nelson Mandela" or, "I envy you because you were friends with Gandhi or Martin Luther King." I mean, this is Madonna.

RE: I agree with you, but from my point of view, life's too short to worry about that. Plus, I'm very proud to be friends with Madonna.

O: There's no reason not to be.

RE: She's someone I admire a lot.

O: And you both have mild British accents.

RE: And we've got mild British accents. There you go.

O: Can you explain that? Just objectively speaking, is her accent a kind of affectation? Is it a product of her voice training, or her speech training for Evita?

RE: First of all, being English, I don't notice her English accent. It doesn't sound remotely English to me. But I think if you're noticing something different in her, it's that I think she's learned to use what we call in the business our diaphragm. When you do singing lessons, most people normally have their voices in the wrong part of their vocal cords. There's the nasal one, the mouth one, and the chest one, and they're all controlled by your stomach. I think that when she started out, her voice was [a nasal tone creeps into his voice] very locked up in the top of her nose—like that.

O: Detroit.

RE: Detroit. So [drops the nasal tone] as soon as it came down into her main resonator—I'm blinding you with science here; it's fantastic—maybe it sort of changed. I don't know. It's not something I noticed.

O: Really?

RE: Of course, yes. I don't notice it very much.

O: On this new film, you don't get credited as rewriting the script.

RE: No.

O: How extensive were your rewrites?

RE: Not extensive enough for the arbitrating committee to come down on our side, to have a credit.

O: Did you fight for a credit?

RE: We wanted a credit, but the original writer went into arbitration against us, which he had the choice whether to do or not. He won the arbitration, so we didn't get the credit. But we worked pretty extensively on the screenplay. That kind of thing happens a lot. It would have been nice for us to have credit on it, but those arbitrations are very difficult. You have to go in there and fight so hard.

O: Were you surprised at all the acclaim you've gotten for An Ideal Husband?

RE: No, I just knew when I heard the film was being made that I had to be in it, because I could really score in it. Not by necessarily being a good actor, just through having had that whole life experience doing that. And also, the humor's genius—it's Oscar Wilde—so it was very good. It seemed to be something I'd really like to do.

O: You did get the Golden Globe nomination.

RE: Yes, the Hollywood Foreign Press was watching.

O: Who are they?

RE: I know all of them. They're fantastic.

O: They're like the Illuminati.

RE: They're all... Quite a lot of them are older: women from Poland, journalists from Israel. They're all nutty, but they're funny. They have these things called the Hollywood Foreign Press Luncheons. They're gruesome, but they're very important.

O: Do you think Hollywood is moving closer to true portrayals of how people interact in the world? How everything isn't necessarily didactic and obvious?

RE: Slightly. They're certainly moving. [Pauses.] I think it's not so much Hollywood, but the obsession with political correctness in America. Drama isn't really allowed to happen anymore, because no one's allowed to be bad enough or good enough or wrong enough in a situation. If someone does something that's dramatically incisive in a screenplay, you're going to get someone saying, [adopts whiny voice] "I just don't think that character there... We can't allow him to be so negative." I think it's not always political correctness, but it's really stronger than anything else. It doesn't allow for drama.

O: How pervasive do you think it is? I wouldn't go so far as to call it active censorship, but certainly stuff is cut out of a script due to sensitivity.

RE: Well, it's kind of professional conscience, I think. It's sometimes like censorship, but it isn't seen that way: It's what you can do with white characters, what you can do with black characters, what you can do with gay characters, what you can do with kids. In the end, you can't do anything.

O: You're writing a third book, aren't you?

RE: Not really. I kind of gave up.

O: You gave up? This was called Guilt Without Sex?

RE: Mm-hmm.

O: Was it fiction?

RE: Yes.

O: Is it harder to write when you're at the peak of your acting popularity?

RE: Um, it's hard for me to write anyway, and I write much better with a writing partner. I'm converting what I could do as an actor into writing, and I think I do have a kind of expertise as a trash writer. Definitely trashy, which isn't bad, but not necessarily good trashy.

O: Is it something you'd want to work on more in the future?

RE: Way in the future.

O: When you've affected an American accent.

RE: When I've affected an American accent. Oh, right, because of my reverse voice exercises.