May 29, 1959: Rupert James Hector Everett. We were already big fans of his good-looks & his talent when in spring 1984, The Husband (then the BF) was the waiter for Rupert Everett & his entourage, in town for the Seattle International Film Festival showing of Another Country, at the then quite famous gay dining spot The Ritz Café in Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. The Husband came home with the sordid tale of Everett’s very bad behavior, culminating in the actor passing out face first into a plate of food. I somehow loved Everett even more.
At 15 years old, Everett ran away from boarding school & went to London to become an actor. He found work straight off. He starred opposite Kenneth Brannagh in the stage version of Another Country when he was 23 years old. Based on the life of gay spy Guy Burgess, he did the film version opposite Colin Firth when he was 25 years old. Everett came out of the closet when he was 29 years old & then the offers dried up.
He did find work in smaller roles & gave interesting & deft performances in Pret-a-Porter & The Madness Of King George in 1994, but when he starred opposite Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) the industry was abuzz with the idea of the “gay best friend” as an asset for a original screenplay. It was unique to have a gay character who is happily partnered, not a victim, not dying, & not a sissy. He carried the film with the charm of Cary Grant & won wads of awards.
That charm followed with roles as gay Christopher Marlowe in Shakespeare In Love (1998), An Ideal Husband (1999), Inspector Gadget (1999), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002), & the overlooked Stage Beauty (2004). He is the voice of Prince Charming in the money making Shrek franchise, disproving his own theory that out gay actors can’t get work.
Everett has written 2 novels. I very much enjoyed reading his memoir Red Carpets & Other Banana Skins (2006) in which he includes the fact that for a time he worked as a rent boy. He followed that up with a highly readable second volume of memoirs The Vanished Years (2012). In both tomes, Everett names names, something I expect in a memoir. He is honest, hugely funny & deeply wise about human nature, particularly his own. His beautiful face, his lovely manners, all his attractive qualities seemed to be worth the cash to me.
Oddly, Everett has urged gay stars not to come out & to keep their sexuality a secret as it could end their film career. He came out as gay 28 years ago & has admitted that since then, he has been given only supporting roles.
“It’s not that advisable to be honest. It’s not very easy, & honestly, I would not advise any actor necessarily, if he was really thinking of his career, to come out… The fact is that you could not be, & still cannot be, a 25 year old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work & you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure, they’ll cut you right off. I’m sick of saying: ‘Yes, it’s probably my own fault.’ Because I’ve always tried to make it work & when it stops working somewhere, I try to make it work somewhere else. But the fact of the matter is, & I don’t care who disagrees, it doesn’t work if you’re openly gay.”
Yet, Everett added that he does believe he is happier than those other major stars who are keeping their sexuality a secret:
“I think, all in all, I’m probably much happier than they are. I may not be as rich or successful, but at least I’m vaguely free to be myself.”
Openly gay John Schlesinger was a great director, responsible for Midnight Cowboy (1969) & Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971), ground-breaking gay themed films. But, I think Schlesinger’s The Next Best Thing (2000), co-starring Everett & his BFF Madonna, is one of the worst films I have ever had to sit through, & not in a fun way. Drek, not Shrek. I managed to sit through it to watch Everett.
Everett was really terrific in Hysteria (2011) along with the always terrific Felicity Jones & Maggie Gyllenhaal, plus the delectable Hugh Dancy. The film, set in the Victorian era, is about the invention of the vibrator. I think I was acquainted with a vibrator nicknamed “Rupert” back in the early 1990s. I thought highly of this witty film.
In 2012, Everett starred in the BBC adaptation of Parade’s End with my boo Benedict Cumberbatch. The five-part drama was adapted by Tom Stoppard from the novels of Ford Madox Ford. This TV series is provocative & a must for Downton Abbey fans.
An aptly cast Everett then starred as Oscar Wilde in the stage play The Judas Kiss at London‘s Hampstead Theatre in 2012.
“I think we are going to see the end of celebrity as we know it. Show business is not an honest profession.”
Everett currently filming The Musketeers for the BBC, playing the part of Philippe Achille, Marquis de Feron, corrupt Governor of Paris, Head of the Red Guard & illegitimate brother to Louis XIII. I am certain that Everett can still nicely fill out a pair of period breeches at 56 years old. Despite having had some work done, he is really starting to look his age. I would still do him, but like Everett, I can be very shallow & a bit of a slut.