It was a very cold evening at London’s Cineworld Haymarket, as celebrities gathered to celebrate the DVD launch of Sarah Townsend’s film directorial debut, Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story.
Believe is a documentary following British comedian Eddie Izzard as he delves into his past, the loss of his mother when he was a young boy, his frankly incredible feat of carving a name for himself on the British, and subsequently international, comedy and film scenes.
He has created, almost single handedly and with sheer determination, what is now one of the best and most prolific careers of any British performer.
The film itself was screened at every Cineworld in the country simultaneously, with a live Q&A with Sarah Townsend and Eddie Izzard, who were posed questions by their long-term friend Phill Jupitus. The evening itself was very relaxed – those celebrities who did turn out for the occasion were clearly all fans of Mr Izzard, and were delighted to have the chance to witness this insight into his life.
Our first and most surprising chat was with the incredibly charming Derren Brown – surprising, in that no one seemed to realise Derren was going to be in attendance, so I snapped up the chance to have a chat about his admiration of Eddie, as well as his own upcoming projects.
Derren Brown: Oh you’re from a movie website? Oh fantastic!
You have professed in the past to being a movie geek.
I am a movie geek, yes!
Are you a big fan of Eddie’s, and how do you think this film is going to impact upon his career and how he is known, especially in America?
I have always been a big fan of Eddie’s, but unfortunately I hardly ever watch television anymore. It means I lose track of where he is at the moment and yeah, I remember when he was trying to break America.
Hopefully this will be an exciting next step for him on this world domination thing he has going!
Can you give us any secrets as to what to expect from a follow up to Hero At 30,000 Feet?
Ooh yes, we are filming something at the moment, which should go out in the early part of next year, hopefully January, if not early February.
And there is the stage show I did this year called Enigma, which was televised, and that will be going out hopefully mid-December.
Then there is a Derren Brown night, which is a documentary and a ‘voted for’ favourite special, and a few other things which will go out at the beginning of January. So those are coming up around Christmas, and then the special we are doing now will be out some time after that, and it’s all top secret!
So yes, a few things in the pipeline!
We look forward to it!I was delighted to also be able to spend time speaking with Phill Jupitus. Den of Geek were, in fact, the only press Phill was happy to speak to whilst on the red carpet, as he showed a particular disinterest in some of the tabloid publications, so it was a joy and an honour to fully monopolise his red carpet minutes…I understand you are a huge fan of Eddie Izzard, how do you think this movie will compare to his other film roles considering he is playing himself this time round?
Well, Eddie is who got me into stand-up, really, and the way that he has always approached his career is something to be admired.
For me, from his film career, I really like the cameos he did in the Ocean’s films. I saw Believe a while ago – I got it on DVD from the States, and when I started watching it, I thought it might be a bit self aggrandizing, but actually it is a really interesting look at the arc of how he has done what he did, because it is so outside the norm.
I mean, it is not a typical career trajectory by any means. It was weird, because it was the first time I have ever watched a documentary about a mate, and it sort of felt a little bit intrusive at times. But Sarah has done a fantastic job, and I think it is the first time – there must be other examples – but it is the first time I have seen a documentary be made by someone who is intimately involved with one of their subjects for so long, so she has the sort of access that no one else would get.
So what have been his career highlights for you? From his stand-up career, or otherwise?
Really early on when he was doing Raging Bull in Soho, I mean that was like seeing The Beatles at the Cavern or something, just fantastic!
Thanks you for your time!
It was unfortunate that there wasn’t time for us to speak with Sarah Townsend, the film’s director, as she was somewhat caught up with TV interviews and the like. This did mean, however, that there was one more person we were dying to speak to, and with mere seconds until the screening had to start, I was thrilled to snatch a few precious comments from Mr Eddie Izzard himself…We are delighted to hear about Believe. How was this as an experience – did you find it intrusive in any way? And why choose now to do it? Was it something you had always wanted to do but hadn’t found the opportunity?
Well, I thought it was a good idea. I had asked Sarah Townsend to film a live show, and she said she would rather do a documentary. And then suddenly the cameras are on you for a number of years! But you know, I did want them to dig inside me and see what they could find, so it was a sort of intrusion, but it was worth it.
You are a self professed film geek. Do you think a documentary of this style could reinvigorate British documentaries?
What I am hoping for is that kids will watch it and think, “I want to do that, I want to be that determined.” I want UK kids to watch this and think, “I have to go and do my own thing”. I believe if you shoot for the stars you can get to the moon!
Thank you Eddie, that’s great.
Having now seen Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to go back and watch all those DVDs from the early part of his career that I became such a fan of all those years ago.
The access given to Sarah Townsend is truly incredible, and what struck me from speaking to people who had come out to see this movie was how much genuine love there is for Eddie Izzard in this country twenty years later.
It was a great evening, spent speaking with people I consider to be genuine heroes of mine, and as a self-professed Eddie Izzard geek, to have the chance to gain such a massive insight into his career and life was a huge honour.
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