politics

Eddie Izzard: ‘Becoming an MP is still my goal’


Boarding school was pretty grim: dormitories, horrible food, structure. Mum disappeared and then suddenly I didn’t see Dad for huge chunks of the year either. I don’t like regret, it’s a useless emotion, but I wish Mum – a nurse who didn’t smoke – hadn’t died of cancer. Away from home, I did a lot of crying and feeling sorry for myself.

I broke into Pinewood Studios at 15, after discovering films existed. I kept seeing the same place listed in the credits, and searched for it on a map. From Bexhill-on-Sea I travelled by train, tube and bus, only to be told to fuck off by security. I found an entrance and brazenly marched in. This didn’t jump start my career as planned, but it was magical.

The first joke I told on stage, in the late 80s at a south London cabaret, got a laugh. “St Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians,” I said. “Chapter 2, Verse 1.17… Dear Corinthians.” After that, not a single thing I said got them chuckling. Still, standup seemed a way out from sketch comedy and street performing and I worked hard before my next set, 18 months later, at a 20-seater vegetarian restaurant. That one wasn’t great either.

I came out as trans at 23, but I’d known since I was five. To this day, trying to steal makeup from Boots in Bexhill as a teen is a badge of honour. I’m gender fluid, so I spend my life in both boy mode and girl mode: I simply don’t neatly fit into either. I still pop into that Boots and loudly announce I’ll be purchasing a lipstick. I ask the assistants if they knew that as a teenager I’d nicked one. “Yes Eddie,” they say, “you told us last time.”

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There were trans people back when we lived in caves, just like there were gay and straight, progressives and bigots – the trans trajectory has been a millennia-long struggle. Things really improved in recent years. Although we’re going through some “discussions” now, I’ll refrain from getting too acrimonious. It’s better we go through this and arrive at a better place, rather than continue to stay hidden. Everyone just needs to calm down, relax, live and let live.

Becoming an MP is still my goal. I’ll run in the next general election, unless a byelection comes along, in which case I’m ready to go with 24 hours’ notice. I do radical things with a moderate message and most moderates don’t go into politics because it’s bruising and an evil industry. But someone has to stop the egotistical maniacs and liars.

Wild animals are match-fit for life. That’s what our bodies are designed for. We’re not built to watch TV and eat cake, but to stay at our prime. It’s one of the reasons I love running. But running is an adventure, too, and shapes how I look at life: the hard parts are easier to get through when you remember there’ll be something great around the corner.

If there is a god, it would have stepped in when 60 million people were dying in the most awful ways during the Second World War. It didn’t. So either God doesn’t exist or it is a horrible entity. It’s more polite, I think, to say there’s nothing there.

I learned to fly 15 years ago, after a lifetime grappling with a crippling fear of flying. It was mostly all the unexplainable noises that filled me with in-flight fear. When I could, I decided to take lessons, which have calmed me down. Now I know exactly what each of those sounds is.

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Six Minutes to Midnight is on digital download and DVD from Lionsgate UK



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