In a new interview with The Guardian, the always candid and controversial Rupert Everett talks about how sex is passé, playing his idol Oscar Wilde in David Hare’s iconic play The Judas Kiss, the gayness of “heterosexual liberation” and the straightness of modern gays.
On death and funerals: I love death! I adore it. I’ve got to that age, I’m over the yard arm. I love funerals. Good hymns, nice church, funny-looking people pottering down the aisle. I hate parties and I never go to people’s houses, but I love funerals. I loved [my dad’s] funeral. It was the opening of my funeral season. It was a real moment for me. So many of my friends came – and I really loved my father during it, which I hadn’t always during his life. And since then… you’ll think I’m getting Shirley MacLaineish, but you can have good relations with dead people. Whether it’s the memory cells throwing them up occasionally or whether it’s a parallel universe, relationships go on.
On how sex is ‘over’: Sex has passed me by. It’s over! I’ve spent most of my adult life, since the age of 10, thinking almost exclusively about sex, and getting it, or recovering from it. But it’s all smoke and mirrors to me now. Sex isn’t really over. I’m just not motivated by it any more, and I used to be motivated by it purely. I think that happens to a man; it’s part of a midlife crisis. But it’s been quite nice, in a way, because I do lots of other things instead. Since it stopped, that major driving force, I’ve felt much calmer.
On Oscar Wilde: I do have a really strong notion of Wilde. I see him very clearly. He was blinded by success, blinded by stardom, and never understood, ever in his life, that he was vile to his wife – but I think his flaws are touching and great. I love him for his faults and his snobbery. Everybody denies themselves, before the cock crows three times. It’s another thing that’s tragic and lovely about Wilde, for me. It was amazing doing the play [The Judas Kiss] on the night of the parliamentary act about gay marriage. There was this extraordinary feeling, doing a play about a character who lost everything for being gay, and seeing where it had come to, that night.
On the evolution of gay rights: We live in a very weird world. On the one hand it’s very liberal, on the other very conservative. It’s like a jet stream, blowing up and down in the most civilised places on earth. Depressing, yes, and yet here I am, acting as Oscar Wilde in a play about three queens with a lot of nude boys on stage, with a normal theatre-going crowd not judging it in a shocked way at all. Straight couples, families… there’s no brick wall of bigotry. A few years ago, that would have been unlikely.
On heterosexual liberation: They’ve become like homosexuals! They cruise for sex, they have random sex; that’s a huge shift even from the 60s, which people called liberated, but it was done in a very connected way. Now the straights have become cruisers, and the homosexuals are all getting married and having kids.