As if his regular grind weren’t enough—touring the globe, performing in stilettos to sold-out crowds, running 27 marathons in 27 days—Eddie Izzard is now planning, Al Franken-style, to run for political office in his native United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, he’s releasing his candid new book, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens (Blue Rider Press), in which the comedic tour de force opens up about his mother’s death, coming out as transgender and his quest for romantic love. As for the jazz chickens... well, you’ll have to read it.
OUT: In Believe Me, you write about coming out as transgender in the early 1980s, when there were so few role models. How do you think it is now?
Eddie Izzard: Back then, I wasn’t much of an activist. I was trying to create a space for myself and then I decided, I am going to carry on doing these things. We need LGBTQ people to be as good as we can be at whatever we do. I think it gave people a chance to give me the benefit of the doubt, and [say to themselves], That guy is transgender and he seems all right. I hope I helped people with their embarrassment. I’d like to be a kind of role model now.
It was profound to read about how you dealt with your mom’s death when you were 6.
Well, I’ve been waiting to write that first chapter since the day mum died. I’ve just recorded the audio, and it is heavy, you know? It’s a lot. I think everything I do is about getting mum back.
You seem to spend a great deal of time on your own—running marathons, touring solo, writing. Do you get lonely on the road?
There is a difference between being alone and lonely. I can be alone for quite some time.
And you’ve been talking about running for mayor of London or a member of parliament.
I believe in the power of doing something positive. I believe in a meritocracy where all 7 billion people have a chance, and we can’t do that by building walls. Didn’t we try that in the 1930s?
In March, you performed in Tel Aviv but then withdrew from running “for freedom” in a marathon in Palestine due to opposition to your participation from Artists for Palestine UK and the Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel. In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?
I’d already played a Muslim country twice. In Turkey, I showed up in a skirt. I believe in co-existence, I believe in a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, and I will continue to be positive. Some people will take umbrage.
In 2009, you ran 43 marathons in 51 days to raise money for Sport Relief. Last year, you ran 27 marathons in 27 days. How’s your health?
Well, my body complains if I don’t run.
You also performed your Force Majeure tour in more than 30 countries—in stilettos. What’s harder on your knees: marathons or stilettos?
Neither. I guess I must have special knees.
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