Early Man review – back-of-the-net triumph from Aardman

18 days ago

Nick Parks hilarious family animation pitches the stone age against the bronze age in a prehistoric football fantasy

Early Man review – back-of-the-net triumph from Aardman

Early Man review – back-of-the-net triumph from Aardman

Nick Park’s hilarious family animation pitches the stone age against the bronze age in a prehistoric football fantasy

Read more: www.theguardian.com

BlacKkKlansman trailer: first look at Spike Lee’s fact-based race drama

1 month, 8 days ago

The writer-directors latest film, premiering in rivalry at the Cannes film festival, boasts Oscar-winning Get Out creator Jordan Peele as producer

The first trailer has landed for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, a fact-based drama about an undercover cop infiltrating the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970 s.

The film stars former American football player and Ballers star John David Washington as black detective Ron Stallworth, who worked together with a white policeman, played by Adam Driver, to take down the Colorado arm of the racist organisation. Stallworth eventually became the head of the local chapter.

” Ron Stallworth is reading the working papers, the Colorado Springs Gazette, and the Klan set an ad in the paper that they needed new members ,” Lee explained in a recent Tribeca movie celebration panel.” Ron Stallworth thinks that it’s a goof so he calls up and, guessing it’s a joke, leaves his real name and phone number on a voicemail- and the Klan calls back. They say,’ We want you to come down .’ Since he’s an African American, he can’t really show up for the interview. He has to get a white police officer to play him, and that’s Adam Driver .”

The film is premiering in competitor at the Cannes film festival and is based on Stallworth’s memoir. It’s produced by Jordan Peele, who won the Oscar for best original screenplay for his hit satirical thriller Get Out.

” I was just blown away ,” Peele said to the Hollywood Reporter when he first heard the tale.” I couldn’t believe I had never heard about it. It’s one of these pieces of reality that almost plays like social irony. So, I was instantly preoccupied with this story .”

Pre-production on the cinema began as events in Charlottesville took place last year and Peele said the day couldn’t be any more “urgent” for this story to be told. The US release date of 10 August also coincides with the beginning of James Fields Jr’s trial, the man Lee refers to as” the motherfucker psychopath who plows his vehicle down through a crowded street and killed Heather Heyer “.

It’s Lee’s first traditional feature film since 2015′ s Chi-Raq, having directed theater/ cinema hybrids Rodney King and Pass over since. He also remade his 1986 comedy She’s Gotta Have It as a Netflix series in 2017.

Early reactions from Cannes have been mostly positive. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw tweeted that it” illuminates up like a pinball machine” while Indiewire’s David Ehrlich said it was ” a wildly uneven but righteous fuck you to Trump “. The movie also reportedly received a 10 -minute standing ovation.

BlacKkKlansman will be released in the US on 10 August and in the UK on 24 August.

Kate Winslet: my gender pay gap remarks were misinterpreted

1 month, 24 days ago

Of course we should be paid the same as the boys: actor has qualified past remarks about how discussion of equal pay for women was vulgar

Kate Winslet has sought to qualify controversial comments she made about the debate over salary inequality in the film industry. In an interview with the BBC in November, the actor said she found the conversation vulgar, adding: I dont think thats a very nice conversation to have publicly at all.

She went on to speculate that her nationality might make her more reticent than some of her colleagues about discussing salaries, and to say that she felt she was a lucky woman happy with her lot.

Vulgar: Kate Winslets initial comments on gender and pay

However, speaking to a correspondent for E Online at the Palm Springs film festival awards ceremony on 3 January, Winslet rolled back on the remarks that met with backlash.

Winslet said: When youre talking about specifics of pay that is a line of questioning I really had a hard time with. So my remarks were in response to that but only that. Of course, we should be paid the same as the boys. We want to stand alongside them.

The actor also said she supported the sentiments of Jennifer Lawrence in her essay expressing anger about pay inequality in the Lenny newsletter last October. Hopefully these discussions will continue to support the efforts that are being made all over the world for the right to equal pay in this field and all other industries, Winslet said.

Of course women should be paid the same as men, she added. Of course they should. Of course I should.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us | Ai Weiwei

1 month, 30 days ago

I was a child refugee. I know how it feels to live in a camp, rob of my humanity, says the artist and activist Ai Weiwei

Quentin Tarantino apologizes for Polanski defense: ‘I was ignorant’

2 months, 2 days ago

The film-maker has said sorry for a 2003 interview in which he justified Roman Polanskis rape of Samantha Geimer

Darth Vader actor ‘not interested’ in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2 months, 5 days ago

Dave Prowse, who appeared as the evil Sith Lord in the classic original trilogy, says he has not even seen the trailer for JJ Abramss film

In terms of rampant hype, it is even giving the original space opera trilogy, which helped usher in the Hollywood blockbuster era and sold hundreds of millions of plastic lightsabers, a run for its galactic credits. But the British actor who appeared as Darth Vader in all three movies says he has not even seen the trailer for JJ Abramss Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Dave Prowse, who portrayed the deadly Sith Lord onscreen for Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), told Yahoo! Movies he wasnt the slightest bit interested in any of Disneys new Star Wars films at least four are currently planned unless he got to play Vader once again.

It depends, he said. It depends if Im playing the part of Darth Vader in it Yes then Id be very interested. But if theyre putting somebody else in Darth Vaders mask, then Im not the slightest bit interested.

Of the latest, apparently final trailer for Abramss film, which has been viewed a staggering 50m times on YouTube, Prowse said: I havent seen it at all. No. Ive seen nothing about it whatsoever. No. No.

He added: The new film, I know absolutely nothing about. I dont really want to talk about it as I know nothing about it whatsoever not being involved in it, I really havent got much interest. You know not a lot, no.

Watch the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer

The 80-year-old actor and former bodybuilder was in the Vader suit for much of the Sith Lords screen time and reputedly even got to speak his lines on set, though his west country tones were dubbed over with those of American actor James Earl Jones in post-production, and many of the fight scenes featured British Olympic fencer Bob Anderson. To add insult to injury, when Vaders face was finally shown to audiences as he lay dying in 1983s Return of the Jedi, producer George Lucas chose to cast the British stage actor Sebastian Shaw instead.

Abrams should perhaps not take the slight on The Force Awakens personally. Prowse has previously signalled his disinterest in Lucass oft-maligned prequel trilogy, which attempted to tell the story of how Jedi Anakin Skywalker was turned to the dark side. I didnt like Star Wars I, II and III at all, he told the Hull Daily Mail in 2013. I think the common opinion now is they were really bad movies. Theres no comparison with the original movies. They had a much more believable story.

Yet intriguingly, Prowse has still been tweeting about The Force Awakens, the latest trailer for which features crossguard lightsaber-wielding Vader fanboy Kylo Ren addressing the ruined helmet once worn by the dead Sith Lord.

Dave Prowse (@isDARTHVADER) October 20, 2015

So, he thinks he can finish what I started does he? #DarthVader pic.twitter.com/83wxvshdtB

Prowse is not the only Star Wars alumnus left nonplussed by the hype surrounding The Force Awakens. Lucas himself said in April that he had not seen the films previous trailer, though the Funny or Die website was quick to imagine him doing so.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Martin Scorsese film recalls martyrdom of Japan’s hidden Christians

2 months, 6 days ago

Ban on Christianity in early 1600 s, the focus of movie called Silence, forced converts to practise in secret, leading to a localised sort of the religion still practised by a few dozen people today

At low tide, Shigetsugu Kawakami can just about make out the prohibited stone from his home overlooking the beach in Neshiko, a tiny village on Hirado island in southern Japan.

According to verbal testimony, at least 70 villagers were taken there and beheaded in the early 17 th century. Their crime had been to convert to Christianity. When we were children, the adults told us that if we climbed on to the rock the village would be cursed, said Kawakami.

Today, ascension rock is a permanent reminder of the atrocities of almost four centuries ago. But the martyrdom of Japans concealed Christians is in danger of being forgotten.

Tens of thousands of Japanese Christians were executed, tortured and persecuted after the Tokugawa shogunate banned the religion in the early 1600 s. With a wary eye on Spanish rule in the Philippines, the authorities dreaded Japan could be the next country targeted by European powers that used Christian teaches as a catalyst for colonial rule.

The ban left Japans 750,000 converts with a selection: renounce their religion or continue to practise their religion in secret, in the knowledge that discovery would almost certainly mean death.

Discussion of Japans Christian heritage has largely been absent from public life since the mid-1 960 s, when Shusaku Endo explored the martyrdom of early converts in his critically acclaimed novel Silence.

Now, Martin Scorsese hopes to ensure their narrative will not be forgotten with a cinema based on Endos novel that is due for release next year.

Starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield, the cinema also called Silence follows two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who are sent to Japan in the early 1600 s to investigate reports that their mentor has committed apostasy. They arrive to find Japanese converts in the midst of a brutal crackdown by the Tokugawa shogunate.

While no official records are kept of the number of modern-day kakure kirishitan ( hidden Christians ), local experts say perhaps merely a few dozen people still consider themselves believers.

Once its saviour, clandestine adore has contributed to a sharp decline in the number of believers. Blended with dwindling, ageing populations on the islands where it once prospered, disciples fear their crypto-Christian tradition is at risk of dying out.

Kawakami, 64, is one of the few concealed Christians who is happy to talk publicly about his faith. We dont practise our faith in public because we are effectively still in hiding, he said. We usually remain quiet and never out ourselves as Christians by appearing on Tv or giving interviews. We dont hold special ceremonies or pray in public. In fact, we dont do anything that would risk dedicating ourselves away.

Remote southern islands such as Hirado demonstrated fertile ground for Catholicism after St Francis Xavier and other missionaries introduced it to Japan in 1549. After a nationwide prohibit was enforced in the early 1600 s, converts devised ingenious ways to keep their religion alive.

They gathered in private homes to conduct religion ceremonies, and figurines of the Virgin mary were altered to resemble the Buddha or Japanese dolls. To the uneducated ear, their prayers voiced like Buddhist sutras, even though they contained a mix of Latin, Portuguese and obscure Japanese dialects. Scripture was passed on orally, since keeping bibles was considered too great a risk. None wore traverses or other religion accoutrements.

The need for secrecy during the course of its 250 years that Christianity was banned meant the version of the religion observed by Kawakamis ancestors little resemblance to its mainstream Catholic origins. Instead, early Japanese Christians incorporated elements of Buddhism and Shinto into their faith until it became a polytheistic creed of its own.

In many styles it was a very Japanese version of Christianity, said Shigeo Nakazono, curator of the Shima no Yakata museum on Ikitsuki, an island near Hirado.

But even this localised sort of Christianity met with fierce opposition from the Shogunate authorities, who devised a singularly cruel exam of loyalty to uncover converts. Suspects were ordered to prove they were not Christians by trampling on fumie images of Christ or the Virgin Mary engraved from stone or wood or face being hanged upside down over a cavity and slowly bled to death.

When the Meiji government lifted the prohibition in 1873, an estimated 30,000 secret Christians came out of hide. Now, Christians of all denominations make up less than 1% of Japans population of 128 million.

Japan was coming under the influence of European industry and technology, and that meant that old objections to Christianity weakened, Nakazono said.

Nakazono wondered whether Scorseses film would bide true to Endos novel, which some have criticised for being preoccupied with martyrdom. If all hidden Christians had been martyrs, there would have been none left, he said. But there were enough people willing to stamp on the fumie , denounce Christianity and then pray God for forgiveness.

At Neshiko beach, ascension stone physical proof that there were those who refused to abandon their faith is half submerged by the incoming tide. Even today, centuries after the last executing, locals remove their shoes before defining foot on the beachs fine white sand as a sign of respect.

Like the rites of the kakure kirishitan , the memories of the executed converts have been preserved by word of mouth a tradition that devotes Kawakami hope that their courage, and faiths, will not be forgotten.

We feel we have a duty to pass it on to future generations, he said. This is something our ancestors risked their lives to tell us.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Captain America: Civil War review – an aspartame rush

2 months, 28 days ago

Entertaining mayhem ensues when some of the Avengers reject government oversight following a botched operation

Should the Avengers be nationalised? This is the explosively controversial idea that ignites a civil war among their ranks in this exciting superhero extravaganza. Its crazily surreal, engaging and funny in the best Marvel tradition, building to a whiplash-twist reveal that sports with the ever-present idea of duplicity and betrayal within the Avengers ranks themselves.

The innumerable civilian deaths and collateral damage that always follow the Avengers spectacular city-pulverising showdowns have become impossible to ignore and now the Avengers are faced with having to submit to UN political oversight and control.

After a catastrophic Avengers action in Lagos that resulted in Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) inadvertently trashing part of a building and killing innocent people, a political summit in Vienna is convened in which the Avengers must sign away their superheroic independence. Its an unthinkable humiliation the superhero equivalent of the Treaty of Versailles. And some of them arent having it.

Captain America (Chris Evans) makes a stand for the Avengers autonomy. Lining up behind him are the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Scarlet Witch.

But ranged against him, deciding to go along with the new political reality, is Tony Stark, otherwise known as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), and joining him are War Machine (Don Cheadle), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Vision (Paul Bettany).

But wait. However real these divisive issues are, might they have been deliberately triggered by a sinister German agent, persuasively played by Daniel Brhl, who sets out to exploit the dangerous, destructive potential within Winter Soldier a dark secret dating back to a 1991 Russian military experiment revealed in flashback?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Alan Cumming: ‘If Donald Trump is the president, we are screwed’

3 months, 4 days ago

In an appearance at the New York Public Library, the actor talked about Elizabeth Taylor, Monica Lewinsky and, naturally, the rise of Donald Trump

Many years ago, the actor Alan Cumming happened to attend a birthday party at Carrie Fishers home. He arrived early. He was so early, in fact, that he was the first guest to arrive. The second was Elizabeth Taylor.

Rather than drum up small talk with one of the great Hollywood stars of the 20 th century, Cumming told a mob at the New York Public Library on Wednesday night, he chose to slip into another room and get a drinking at the bar. Fisher, he told, then approached him and hissed, in a kind of stage whisper: What are you doing? Do you know how many homosexuals would like to be in your position? Cumming returned to the living room and promptly he and Liz fell into an enjoyable conversation.

This is the sort of anecdote Cumming tells in his new volume, You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams: My Life in Stories and Pictures, out this week in the US from Rizzoli. I wanted to give people literal and figurative snapshots, Cumming told the NYPLs Paul Holdengraber last night at the first event of the library Live at the NYPL series. Probably the most touching of these is a shot of himself with his grandmother. On the working day the photograph was taken, Cumming told, his grandmother defended him from relatives who are seeking to tease him about his newly bleached blond hair. If I was young, she said, Id be a freak like Alan too.

On the stage last night Cumming was not much like the characters he plays. He was constrained, spoke slowly and carefully and sometimes even sadly. He was wearing a T-shirt that earnestly extol him a Library All Star and implored, Get in video games, read! And at least at one point, he was visibly riled with Holdengrabers topics. This was when Holdengraber tried to draw a parallel between Cummings troubled relationship to his father, and his troubled relationship with the writer and critic Gore Vidal.

Vidal befriended Cumming in the early 2000 s, he told the audience, and he aimed up having mixed feelings about the relationship. He was flattered, at first, that Vidal liked him, but the more he got to know the famously caustic critic the more he was saddened by Vidals lack of exhilaration. I dont think he was a very nice person, he told Holdengraber. He recalled a visit with Vidal and Vidals partner, Howard Austen. The pair had been together for 50 years. But Cumming said he was shocked to hear Vidal say in front of Austen, Well, Ive never loved, of course. This seemed a cruel thing to say.

Still, Vidal had plainly profoundly affected Cumming. He said he had want to get title his book, I Wrote This Book Because Gore Vidal Told Me To, but his publishers hadnt let him.( That title was instead used for the one chapter in the book where he discusses the relationship .)

Another of Cummings disagreements with Vidal, he told, was over the Monica Lewinsky affair. Vidal was unsympathetic to Lewinsky and especially defended Bill Clintons famous statement that he did not have sex with that woman. Cumming is a good friend of Lewinskys and grew very serious talking about it.

The way that, you know, the most powerful man in the world and this 23 -year-old girl who was in love with him, this thing happened, this unfortunate thing happened, yet she was the one, the weak one he said, reaching for the words to describe his feelings. He was the one who abused his power, and she was the one who was berated, and denigrated, and whose life was made a misery.

Cumming also had opinions to share about Donald Trump. If Donald Trump is the president of this country, we are fucked, ladies and gentlemen, severely, he told.

In the book he writes about the style that Cabaret, the musical whose 1993 London revival was Cummings big breakout role, gradually immerses the reader in the prospect of Nazism. Holdengraber called this passageway prescient as to the present trend of politics. Cumming blanched at the thought. Six, seven, eight months ago, it was funny , now its not funny at all, he said.

The fact that he has been a candidate of a major party, Cumming continued, its a victory of the lack of value this country puts on education. We have allowed a generation of people to be uneducated, to not be able to analyze, to not care about what is happening in the world, to also be in a place where if they are told the same thing again and again and again, propaganda basically, they believe it to be true. He cited Brexitas another example of the same phenomenon.

The demographics of this country have changed so radically in the last generation, and Im hoping that rich, white, entitled humen like Donald Trump, their days of being able to say contentious, racist, sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic things, are over, Cumming told. But Im not certain. And that fills me with such horror.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Eddie Izzard:’ Everything I do in life is trying to get my mother back’

3 months, 7 days ago

Transgender hero Eddie Izzard has done standup in French and German, operate dozens of marathons, and is now in a period drama with Judi Dench. But, he uncovers, his can-do attitude has a melancholy source

There was a literal turning point in Eddie Izzard’s lifelong pursuit of personal freedom. It went one afternoon in 1985 when he had gone out for the first time in a dress and heels and full makeup down Islington high street. He was 23 and he had been planning- and avoiding- that moment for just about as long as he could remember. The turning point came after he was chased down the road by some teenage girls who had caught him changing back into his jeans in the public toilets and wanted to let him know he was weird. That pursuit objective when eventually, faced with the screamed question” Hey, why were you dressed as a woman ?”, he decided simply to stop running and turn and explain himself.

He spun around to give an answer, but before he got many terms out the girls had run in the opposite direction. The experience taught him some things: that there was power in tackling dread rather than avoiding it; and that from then on he would never let other people define him. After that afternoon, he says, he not only felt he could face down the things that scared him, he went chasing after them: street performing, standup slapstick, marathon running, political activism, improvising his stage show in different languages- all these things felt relatively easy after that original coming out as what he calls” transvestite or transgender “.” You think, if I can do something that hard, but positive- perhaps I can do anything .”

The ” anything” he has been doing most recently is to take on the challenge of acting opposite Judi Dench and Michael Gambon. In Stephen Frears’s interpretation of the true narrative of Queen Victoria’s late-life relationship with an Indian maid, Victoria& Abdul , Izzard plays a full-bearded, tweed-suited Bertie( afterward Edward VII ), reining in his comic instincts to occupy the outrage and scheming of a son considering his mother apparently making a fool of herself. Izzard has done plenty of movies before- he was in Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen alongside George Clooney and Brad Pitt and the rest- but nothing that has required quite this level of costume drama restraint. He loved it.

Watch a trailer for Victoria& Abdul .

He and Dench are old friends. She has been a regular at his stage shows and has been in the habit, for reasons forgotten, of sending a banana to his dressing room each opening night, with” Good luck !” written on it. Assuring her channel Victoria at close quarters was a daily masterclass. The movie was shot partly at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight( the first time any film crew had been allowed inside by English Heritage) and the cast would let their hair down in the evenings. One time, Izzard remembers:” I was dancing with Judi to Ray Charles’s’ What’d I Say ‘. She felt like a young lady, a young teenage girl virtually. Judi has this amazing triggered of vitality that traces all the way back to her youth .”

Watching the cinema, you’re so ready to see Izzard slip into one of his wayward meanders of consciousness that for a while it seems odd that he stays on script. Does it feel that style to him too?

” Not now ,” he tells.” My early run as an actor wasn’t very good because I only switched all my comedy muscles off, and I didn’t know what to replace them with. I believe I have learned more how to just’ be’ on cinema now. It is just like knowing how to both ride a bicycle and drive a car. If you are in a automobile you don’t want to lean sideways to turn a corner. You know the difference .”

Ever since he bunked off school and conned his route into Pinewood Studios as a 15 -year-old and strayed the film sets for a day, he has imagined himself an actor. The first thing he did when his comedy finally took off after years of trying and often failing to stimulate people laugh was to get himself a drama agent and see if he could pursue a twin career. He has never been satisfied with just doing one thing, and it appears that determination to diversify has only grown. He’s 55, and because of his running- which peaked at 43 marathons in 57 daysin the UK and 27 in 27 days in South Africa for Sport Relief– he looks lean and almost alarmingly bright-eyed. We are talking in a hotel room in London, and he is garmented sharply in” boy with eyeliner” mode. He works on the faith, he tells, that human beings were never made to sit still or settle, but to place themselves in challenging situations, and then work up how to cope.

” World war two is a good example ,” he indicates.” People get fallen behind enemy lines with no idea of what they were going into. They had to learn to do a great deal under extreme pressure and on the move. And they proved they could. In a very different style, I believe coming out as transgender allowed me to set myself in other terrifying situations and work them out once I was in them. I knew I would get through the bad, scaring bit- and there was a lot of that when I was a street performer- and eventually get to a more interesting place .”

Running
Operating one of many marathons for Sport Relief in July 2009. Photograph: Alfie Hitchcock/ Rex
He has, of late, paused to reflect on the motivations behind that impulse, first in a documentary film,
Believe: the Eddie Izzard Story , made by his ex-lover and long-term collaborator Sarah Townsend, and then in an autobiography, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens . The first two elements of that latter subtitle largely resulted Izzard back to his mother, who died of cancer when he was six years old. Building the cinema, Townsend came to suggest that all Izzard’s inspired digressive habits circled around this truth, and in his volume, in opening chapters too poignant to read easily, he expands on that thought.

” Toward the end of the movie, I started talking about my mother …” he recollects.” And I said something revelatory:’ I know why I’m doing all this ,’ I said.’ Everything I do in life is trying to get her back. I think if I do enough things … that maybe she’ll come back .'” When he said those terms, he tells, it felt like his unconscious speaking. The thought remained with him that” I do believe I started performing and doing all sorts of big, crazy, ambitious things because on some level, on some childlike magical-thinking level, I thought doing those things might bring her back .”

I wonder, having got those things out into the public, nearly half a century on, if it has changed how he thinks about himself?

” I surely feel I am in a better place ,” he says- but also it has given him a sense of his own strangeness.” There is that thing where people say wow about the marathons or whatever. And I kind of tell wow too, because there are some things I did that, looking back, I don’t know how I did them. Running a doubled marathon on the last day in South Africa. It was 11 hours of not fun. And about five minutes of euphoria. I’m not sure how I did that .”

One of the things about marathons- even if you are running, as he was some of the time in the UK, followed by an ice-cream van blaring the Chariots of Fire topic- is that there is an nasty lot of period for supposing. Does his intellect ever pause for breath?

” I have a luck thing ,” he says,” which is that I am interested in any question- how did we get here? all the religions. I can think about anything. For example when I did the 43[ marathons] I ran past a sign telling’ the Battle of Naseby: 1 mile’ and I’m immediately off thinking about Cromwell and Fairfax, Prince Rupert maybe, and how this road I was operating on would have been a way back then and perhaps the cavalry came down it, how did they get cannon round that bend, all that, at every moment …”

Campaigning
Campaigning for Labour during the general election in 2015. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/ PA

Talking to Izzard, and watching him perform, you sense he has a kind of need of not ever wanting to miss any scrap of experience. It’s partly, he suggests, why he has widened his repertoire of doing standup in different languages in recent years.

” German has been the hardest in so far ,” he tells. He is doing Arabic next, scheming a show in the Yemen( he was born in Aden, where his father worked for a time for BP) to draw attention to the brutal civil war there, and after that, Mandarin Chinese. As he explains this, blithely, I’m reminded both of the passages in his volume where he writes about the strategies he developed to overcome severe dyslexia as small children, and his uneasy relationship with his late stepmother, Kate. The antithesis of performing as a younger human for the memory of his mother was a refusal to be limited by Kate’s efforts to control him. She wanted him to be an accountant because he was good with numbers, if not with read. He remembers her once telling him:” You’ve got to understand that you are a cog in the machine. As soon as you understand that, you can fit in and get on with life .” You can only imagine how that was downed. Does he ever think he will become more accepting of restrictions?

” I have a very strong sense that we are only on this planet for a short duration of hour ,” he tells.” And that is only growing. Religious people might think it goes on after demise. My impression is that if that is the case it would be nice if just one person is coming and let us know it was all fine, all confirmed. Of all the billions of people who have died, if just one of them could come through the clouds and say, you know,’ It’s me Jeanine, it’s brilliant, there’s a really good spa ‘, that would be great .” He pauses.” Although what if heaven was merely like three-star, OK-ish. You know,’ Some of the taps don’t work …'”

He sets his success down not to any particular talent, but to his being” brilliantly boring. Some people are maybe brilliantly interesting. But I have the opposite gift .” That, and stamina, and that unlimited curiosity about the world.

For a BBC series about genealogy he went to Africa to trace percentages per of his genetic make-up that was Neanderthal. It reinforced his sense that there was nothing new for the purposes of the sun, that people had always been the same.” We never think of cavemen being envious of the neighbours with the very best cave, but without doubt they were ,” he says.

In villages in Namibia, females were fascinated by his nail varnish; some of the men, too.” You know if you have a football and some nail burnish and a smile you can walk into any village in the world and find friends ,” he tells.” There are 7 billion of us on the planet now and we should be connecting up more. Ninety-nine per cent of us would be live-and-let-live and’ Hi and how are you ?’. But the 1% aren’t happy with that, they want to actively stir it up and tell us that is not the way to go on .”

Meeting
Meeting the Bakola Pygmies in Cameroon for a BBC series to trace his genetic make-up. Photograph: BBC

Talk of politics is a reminder of Izzard’s interventions in last year’s referendum campaign, in which he tried to use his experiences of doing slapstick in French and German and Spanish as an example of how Europe might be a place where you could share culture, rather than be defensive about it. In those fevered weeks, his arguments were sometimes made to look naive; the Mail and the rest roasted him after an awkward encounter with Nigel Farage on Question Time .

He admits that he is sometimes still learning in politics, but is unrepentant about his efforts to try to advance a cause that he has been engaged in as a performer for a long while.

” Running and hiding from Europe cannot be the way forward for us ,” he tells.” The notion that Britain can go back to 1970 and it will still be all the same simply can’t be an option .”

Does he think there is still hope for Remainers?

” It seems to me people are always capable of being either brave and curious or fearful and suspicious. If you track humanity all the way through, the periods of success for civilisation are those periods where we have been brave and curious .”

There is plenty of anxiety and mistrust in the world though. How does he think it will go?

” I don’t know. If you look at the 1930 s there are obviously clear examples of how individuals can spin these kinds of dreads and twist them, and then you get what historians usually call mass-murdering fuckheads in power .”

He have all along talked of looking to run as a Labour MP in the elections. Is that still the lawsuit?

” Yes, the scheme was always to run in 2020, though Theresa May has changed that with her failed power grab. So now it’s the first general election after 2020.”

He will also put himself forward for Labour’s national executive committee at the party meeting this year. He didn’t make it last hour, though he got 70,000 votes. And if and when he has become a MP, he will give up acting and performing?

” I would. It’s like Glenda Jackson; she gave up acting for 25 years to concentrate on it, then she turns up back as King Lear .”

With
With Ali Fazal, Judi Dench and director Stephen Frears for a screening of Victoria& Abdul at the Venice film festival. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/ Getty Images

I wonder if another ambition, to eventually have infants, still applies?

” I always said children in my 50 s. But I also always felt that I had to do things first. Get this stuff done. But yes, I haven’t given up on that .”

For someone who was dealt an early lesson about the fragility of life, his long-term planning audios odd. Does he feel that contradiction?

” I think we should all choose a year we would like to live to, and do everything we can to construct that the project works. I mean it could all go wrong at any point, plainly. But we also know that if we don’t get ailment or get hit by a bus we can help ourselves by drinking enough water and maintaining as fit as you were when you were a kid. As we get older and we get a bit creaky we take that as a sign to stop doing stuff. My sense is we should push through creaky. I was feeling a bit sluggish lately, about a month ago, I believed right, I’ll do seven marathons in seven days. And off I run. The first four were a bit rubbish, but you push on through that .”

He must have good joints?

” I mangled my knee up a while ago, trying to leap over a fence ,” he says.” But it healed up, and now it complains only when I don’t use it enough .”

Is there some genetic explanation for his energy?

” Dad loved football, played until his late 30 s. I don’t know about Mum. She liked singing and slapstick and Flanders and Swann but I’m not sure about athletic .”

I hear his voice breaking just slightly. Izzard still can’t really talk about his mother easily, at the least not in an interview. In his volume he describes how in the immediate aftermath of her demise he and his father and his brother wept together for half an hour and then stopped in case they went on for ever. In place of therapy papa bought his sons a model railway set and they construct it in the spare room and immersed themselves in it. The situated lately resurfaced when Izzard had it restored and donated it to a museum in their home town of Bexhill-on-Sea, another part of his excavation of that time.

” Dad encouraged us with it after Mum succumbed ,” he tells, by way of rationale.” He made a table for us and we spent hours and hours constructing it. Then in 1975 my stepmother, Kate, came along and it was put away into boxes and never “re coming out” again. It ran from Dad’s attic to my brother’s attic, and he didn’t know what to do with it. I thought, why not give it to the museum in Bexhill? I guessed there might be plenty of model railway enthusiasts in Bexhill, and they rebuilt this thing, it’s kind of a collector’s item. They are now going to build another one, a Christmas version. We had a grand opening and Dad came down to see it .”

He likes the fact that he is in a position to make these kinds of things happen. Is he happier now than ever?

” I always wanted the kind of profile that you can leverage to do the things you want ,” he says.” There is no path into it. You have to work out how you get there- over the wall, or tunnel your route in. I always supposed doing the same thing was actually going backwards. And if “youre starting” saying’ Hi, I like chicken’ on some advert, you know you have probably reached that phase .”

You hesitate a little to ask him what he is working on next, but I do anyway.

” I’ve written my first film ,” he tells.” It is called Six Minutes to Midnight , set in the summer of 1939. I’m developing a show in French in Paris. This December I am going to be on a boat, only below Notre Dame, doing two presents nightly. What else? I’m not a good reader but I always wanted to read all of Dickens, so I have found someone who will let me read them as audiobooks- I have done a third of Great Expectations and it took four days. So: 12 days. And then there is the premiere of Victoria& Abdul for which Dad is coming up from Bexhill to expend his 89 th birthday with Judi Dench …”

Out of all the things he has done, I ask, of what is he proudest?

” Mostly I hope I have done things that help other people to do them ,” he tells.” That was the thing with coming out as transgender, and it was the same thing doing the marathons, or learning the languages. I hope people might guess, well if that imbecile can do it, why can’t I? I entail, I’m just some guy, right. Nothing special ?”

I’m not quite convinced.

Victoria& Abdul is released on Friday 15 September. Believe Me is published by Michael Joseph( PS20 ). To order a transcript for PS17 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over PS10, online orders only. Phone orders min p& p of PS1. 99

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