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Celebrity Interview: Rupert Everett Talks on The Happy Prince, Oscar Wilde and Studio 54

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Rupert Everett actor, director writer of the Sony Pictures Classic film, The Happy Prince, recently spoke with media on Oscar Wilde, the film's subject, the idea of directing future projects and New York City in the 1970's.

Everett spoke in-depth on The Happy Prince, his passion project for over a decade explaining the film took ten years to shoot as the usual pitfalls, financing, scheduling caused repeated delays. Throughout the long season he explains his career as receding, ever so slightly at first.

In addition to directing, starring and writing in The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett is also an actor, writer, the author of several books and a regular contributor to multiple magazines, which translates to a bit more successes than he projects. Recently he has been asked to write the forward for the republishing of Andrew Hollerans's "Dancers in the Dance."

Then one realizes his passion is acting and the other career achievements are definitely high points, and really almost tide me overs until the flame that ignites his soul passion, acting, returns. For that, one must agree, we haven't seen him recently. He explains, for some unknown reason his acting career evaporated. No calls from his agent, no scripts, no work. Shocking for someone of his caliber.

As the director, writer and actor in the film he spoke on the various aspects and how they came together to develop this one persona. "From the outside in" he said speaking on his development of Wilde's character which for an actor translates to focusing on the external first, hair, what will the camera see, make-up and in this case, a lush, full body specially made "fat suit" with a real look and feel of overweight, before he focused on the internal of where Wilde was emotionally during this season.

Below is my interview:

Janet Walker: Congratulations on your film.

Rupert Everett: Thank you very much.

JW: Tell me a little bit . . well describe how it was to simply immerse yourself in everything Oscar Wilde? As writer, director, actor to come up with this film?

RE: Immersing yourself with Oscar Wilde is really exciting. When you start off writing a script especially about a subject like this you can really know what that character was doing almost every day because they all wrote so many letters in the 19th Century. So you can sleuth a character in a very good way. You can go to the places, you can find the street corners, and the houses, you can find the clothes, you can find all sorts of things, if you want to. So that's one of the part of writing a historical story that's really exciting. Tons of books, I read. Contemporary ones and ones written now and that's how it came about.

On Wilde's Post Prison Life . . .

JW: It was dark, post prison, because there is so much material on Oscar Wilde and the pre-prison obviously he is the toast of society and celebrated everywhere and post-prison its quite different. Why did you choose to focus on post prison?


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RE: Because I think all the other stories rather shy away from the responsibility of looking at what society actually did to this man for the crime of being homosexual. It wasn't just the horror of a prison sentence with hard labor it was also the weird type of horror of a so called liberty which ended up being another type of prison. So For me the story that was interesting to tell is almost like the story of Christ's passion, the passion of Oscar Wilde, going through prison and this so called liberty which ended up constraining him more and more and more. And for me, it's a very inspiring story for that.

On Directing . . .

JW: Now that you've had a taste of directing and the film is done so well, do you think you'll continue directing?

JW: Well, when I was making the film I thought "never again" because the strain is quite intense but it's like childbirth and you've got over the pain and you have a little baby in your arms you start bristling with ideas for new kids. So I would like to direct some more but at the same time I would also like to stay engaged with my business. You know I think going into a job like acting, it's difficult to describe, especially with people of my generation, it really is a lifetime choice and when it dries up on you it is extremely difficult to deal with and I really want to, this is a very exciting time to be in show business. The world is so insane. This should potentially be an great time and want I would like more than anything is to stay engaged to stay a part of it rather than have it drive past me.

On Distribution . . .

JW: When did Sony Pictures Classic pick you up? 

RE: I got picked up by Sony Classics at Sundance.

JW: Describe how that went about?

RE: Well, Tom and Michael did my first ever film, "Another Country." So I always wanted, I thought when I was making the film, I thought this is my last film so I've got to try to get Tom and Sony Classics to do it because, A) it's so unusual to nowadays to have any type of relationship with anyone beyond five minutes in show business because everyone changes but they've been there since then and they did a wonderful job on my first film so I was very keen for them to do my last one.

They came to see the film at Sundance and agreed to take it onboard. I'm very thrilled. And that's one of the nice things in show business and getting older is longevity and knowing people for a very long time and having a relationship with people. Very pleasurable and gives a kind of nice feeling that you don't get very much in this business.


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On Studio 54, 1970's New York City . . .

JW: Since you've talked about this, what were some of your memories of NYC in the 1980's with Andy Warhol and Madonna? I mean if you can remember.

RE: I can remember and the 1970's              

JW: Okay so tell me some of your favorite memories of those times?

RE: Well, funny enough, there was a book written in the 1980's by Andrew Holleran, called "Dancers from the Dance," and its being republished. and I was asked by the publisher to write the forward.

I don't know if you've ever read the book. It was a one-off, he's written two others, and this one is about Queens and disco in the 1970's and it's a portrait of New York as that bankrupt and incredibly dangerous but extraordinarily artistic and creative city.

And I think, it's amazing, coming back here, I fele like Louise Brooks, I haven't been in LA since 2003, and so everything has completely changed and since the 80's, in NY for example as well, everything has just changed. I don't know, its difficult for someone older to climatized to this world, I find.

I find virtuality very complex, personally. That world was based on interaction, community and going out. No one goes out anymore. What was extraordinary about the world of Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger and Madonna in the 80's is that the whole of society, across the classes, across the financial spectrum went out together to places. This is extraordinary alien thought now. No one does anything now they all order everything in.

I think that was the thing that was most striking about that period compared to now is that Margaret Trudeau was there dancing with a plumber, that was reality, Halston was sitting talking to a drug dealer, and there was a kind of melting pot where there was no, it was just pre-birth of political correctness, everybody was just what they were and there was very little apology about anyone and no one was particular upset if you were having a dinner party with an embezzling criminal it was all part of the picture of being part of a cosmopolitan world and I think Warhol was an extraordinary character because he was the catalyst of all that?

JW: Do you see that as a project possibly in your future?

RE: You mean something on Warhol?

JW: Well not necessarily on him but on the time.

RE: I think the 70s is a fascinating time to write about and I loved to organize them and the film I'm trying to make now is about the 70's in France.

The Happy Prince is in theaters now. See it.

 

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