On the surface, Eddie Izzard and Arnold Schwarzenegger don’t seem to have much in common. Izzard is hilarious; Schwarzenegger isn’t funny (on purpose, at least). Izzard is a slight dude – barely 5’8” – who cross-dresses and wears lipstick while Schwarzenegger stands 6’2” and is the old-fashioned archetypal man’s man. But Izzard, an iconic comedian and one of the world’s most delightfully strange artists, admires the former Mr. Universe’s approach to his latter-day career as governor of California— especially since Izzard has plans to enter the political arena in England.
“I will disappear from comedy,” Izzard tells Laughspin, “but I will disappear using the Arnold Schwarzenegger model. He went away for seven years and now he’s back as an actor, and I’m planning to come back as well.” And while Schwarzenegger’s interest in politics progressed relatively quickly – and some might argue a bit disingenuously – the 52-year-old comedian has long been politically active and has adopted a pragmatic approach to his second career. He could certainly run for office in 2016, but he’s decided 2020 is the right time.
“I’ll run for mayor of London or a member of Parliament,” he tells Laughspin. “So I’ve got some films to make and I’ve got a clock ticking. I’ve got to get things done, get stuff as good as I can and get as much work done as I can before I disappear.” Some of those “things” in which Izzard speaks include the animated film Tibetan Rock Dog, the dramatic film Boychoir with Dustin Hoffman and Absolutely Anything, a science fiction comedy written and directed by Terry Jones of Monty Python. He’s also got a pretty sweet talent holding deal with NBC, where he’s held a recurring role on Hannibal, playing Dr. Abel Gideon, who kills his family and thusly institutionalized. Izzard can’t say much about his new NBC plans but he did tell Laughspin, “Yes, there’s something in the pipeline and we’ll start filming in July.”
Never content with working on one project at a time, Izzard supplements his comedy and acting gigs with a healthy dose of politics. And these days it seems he’s equally passionate about preparing for his massive American tour — starting April 30 — of his latest stage show Force Majeure and helping his country’s Labour Party encourage British citizens to vote in September’s historical referendum to decide whether Scotland should secede from the UK, ending the 307-year relationship between the two countries that form Great Britain. Izzard believes Scotland and England should remain in business together. And perhaps more importantly, he believes England should remain part of the European Union, though British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to seriously consider breaking away from the EU if his Conservative Party wins the majority in the next Parliamentary election in May, 2015.
“England shouldn’t separate from the Union because we’re just going to lose jobs,” Izzard contends. “All these big companies around the world are going to move their headquarters onto the mainland of Europe and take away from the English speaking—or move them to Ireland or Scotland. Does the European Union work perfectly? No. Are their faults with it? Yes. Should we change them? Yes. But we can’t change the faults if we’re outside of the Union. If you have an adventurous spirit, you can go out there and make your business in other countries happen.”
To say Izzard has, himself, an “adventurous spirit” would be a severe understatement. And to think us mortals could have even half the spirit he does would be grossly naïve. But at least Izzard puts his money where his mouth is. In addition to hitting the States with Force Majeure, presented by Westbeth Entertainment, Izzard has embarked on a multi-national, multi-language comedy charge, whereby this tour, launched in March of last year, will have traveled to 25 countries on five continents. He has already performed the show in English, French and German and plans on adding Spanish, Russian and Arabic (Izzard was born in Yemen, so that last one holds a special place in his heart). Just to make this whole thing a little more challenging, the comedian, in the middle of his U.S. tour, has decided to fly to Normandy, France on June 6, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, to perform his show in English, French and German.
“Some people say a ‘world tour’ means you might hit three countries or something, but I don’t know, I think if you’re going to play the world, you should play the world,” Izzard reasons. “I do believe, you know, politically, that we’re all the same and humanly we are all the same; we’re all of the same genetics. We’ve fought many wars. Many extremist people have given their own personal agendas or nationalist agendas in order to steal other peoples’ countries by saying, ‘Hey, we’re the right people, and we’re the super people and we should murder everyone next to us!’ But I’m doing my comedy and showing that it works in all these different countries. The Melting Pot can save the world.”
For more info on Eddie Izzard, including Force Majeure tour dates, check out eddieizzard.com.