Eddie Izzard on research, preparation, and staying in character

Eddie Izzard has had an enviable career that has spanned both stage and screen. Recently in San Diego for a show he talked about his new book “Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens,” starting out in performing, working in film, and his charitable works including running 27 marathons in 27 days.

For a kid starting out as a street performer in the United Kingdom Eddie Izzard has quite a body of work behind him, ranging from being nominated for a Tony Award for his role in the revival A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG, movies like the Oceans Twelve, and Oceans Thirteen movies, and has appeared on television in ‘Hannibal”, “The Riches,” and more.

Eddie Izzard and Dame Judi Dench in VICTORIA AND ABDUL

Currently, he can be seen acting alongside his friend Dame Judi Dench,  playing an historical Royal figure; Prince Albert, eldest son of Queen Victoria in Victoria and Abdul. Dame Judi Dench of course is returning to the role of Queen Victoria, having first played this part in the movie Mrs. Brown.

Speaking with Den of Geek, Izzard says the key to going onto a set is research and preparation.

“I’ve never measured it, say, this role is that, you just do what you feel you need to to get in. Also, sometimes coming into a role there might be a different length of time to prepare, but the more you can – I have noticed a reluctance in earlier years to know exactly where to start with research. Maybe it’s a laziness or lack of confidence about which way to go into it.”

“The obvious thing that came into my head, or that I realized, was the better you researched it – the better you are into the character before you land on the set, the easier it’s going to be. You’re just going to be fully formed, I mean, obviously Daniel Day-Lewis does this to a huge extent, and that’s what I want to do, that’s the direction I want to head to, so that when I’m there, getting to the set, I know where I am, rather than a week into it, getting the hang of it.”

Like most things, it is practice that helps make him confident enough to get better and keep going, whether it is acting or comedy, the process is the same. It should lead to the performer knowing the material enough to know if something feels correct for them or not.

“Well, if I’m getting it right, I feel that I should be able to come off script and improvise, even though that’s not actually going to happen. I feel at least I’m moving around, I go and eat, and have lunch and you say [falling into Bertie] ‘yes, I want one of these’, and you just walk round and you talk to people in a way where you stay in the character.”

See Eddie Izzard now in Victoria and Abdul, or read about how his life led him from street performing to major motion pictures in his memoir “Believe Me” which can be found at all bookstores.

 

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