Helen Mirren and I were interviewed for the NY Times Talks about the differences of performing on Broadway and the West End.
Zero Effect was a pilot made for NBC written and directed by Jake Kasdan, based on his feature film of the same name. I played Daryl Zero, the world's greatest private investigator and master of disguise.
It was never picked up, but here is a sneak peek....
Along with my fellow castmates I received a National Board of Review Award for Best Acting Ensemble for this version of the Charles Dickens novel, Nicholas Nickleby, adapted and directed by Douglas McGrath.
My character, Mr. Folair, is a member of the Crummles Theatre Company, always trying to do his speciality act - the highland fling – at every available opportunity. The cast also includes Charlie Hunnan, Jamie Bell, Anne Hathaway, Barry Humphries, Nathan Lane, Aileen Walsh, Christopher Plummer, Jim Broadbent, Juliet Stevenson, Timothy Spall and Tom Courtenay. I had previously been directed by Doug McGrath in the films Emma and Company Man.
I love Doug. And I loved being Mr. Folair because I got to work with Barry Humphries and Nathan Lane and Aileen Walsh, all of whom are absolutely hilarious. I was only on the film a few weeks but I had a great time. Oh, except for the first day when Aileen accidentally bashed me on the nose and I thought I’d broken it.
In my first role immortalised not only on film but also in an action figure, I played the new addition to the original X-Men family: Nightcrawler, a German former circus performer whose superpower is teleporting.
X2: X-Men United, directed by Bryan Singer, also starred Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore and Aaron Stanford.
I had never heard of the X-Men before I met Bryan to talk about doing this movie. I certainly had no idea who Nightcrawler was or how huge a thing being in this movie would be. The character is really interesting, the message of the film (tolerance of others who are different from us) was very timely and unusual for a Hollywood blockbuster, but the real drag was having to spend over four hours a day having two men poke my face. Then there were the harnesses for the tail and for flying, the feet, the hands – which made going to the loo a group effort, the teeth, the lenses, oh God don’t get me started. When I got the press reel of all my X2 TV interviews I realized that I had gone 'round the world just moaning on every talk show.
This is my wobbly head toy. I also have two action figures, one 6" and one 12', both fully poseable. Thank you
In early 2002, I formed The Art Party with my then partner, the British director Nick Philippou. Elle was The Art Party's inaugural production. Sadly it was also its only production - the company folded in late 2003 (coincidentally so had our relationship!)
Elle was written by Jean Genet, and had never been performed in English before. I wrote a new adaptation of the play from a literal translation by Terri Gordon. Elle was directed by Nick, designed by Tim Hatley, projections were by Peter Negrini, and fashion legend Vivienne Westwood designed the costumes. The cast featured me as the Pope, Stephen Spinella, Anson Mount, Chad L. Coleman and Brian Duguay.
This was an amazing experience. Adapting the text was really intense, as the play is not only a debate about existence, but also has some very contemporary themes about our obsession with celebrity. It's also a sort of love story and a rites of passage...it's an unbelieveable play. Performing it was amazing too as I had to be on rollerskates and also had to hide from the audience that my costume had no back to it until a moment when it - and by it I mean my arse - was revealed, so that was a bit of a challenge. I played the Pope as a very weary and crabby Eastern European old man. The cast were great, the space at the Zipper was beautiful, the whole thing was really fulfilling, mostly because we had made it all happen ourselves.
Tommy's Tale is my debut novel, and was published by Harper Collins in the US and Penguin in the UK. The US edition was first, in September 2002, with the UK edition following in April 2003.
Chapter Six of the novel, entitled The Disabled Loo, is included in the anthology Best American Erotica 2004, edited by Susie Bright. To learn more about the erotic anthology series, visit www.susiebright.com.
Tommy is twenty-nine, lives and loves in London, and has a morbid fear of the "c" word -- commitment, the "b" word -- boyfriend, and the "f" word -- forgetting to call his drug dealer before the weekend. But when he begins to feel the urge to become a father, he starts to wonder if his chosen lifestyle can ever make him happy. His flatmates, the eccentric, maternal Sadie and the stoic, supportive Bobby, encourage Tommy to tone down his lifestyle a wee bit and accept the fact that he's got to grow up sometime. His boyfriend, Charlie (whose son, Finn, is the epitome of childhood charm), wishes that Tommy could make a real commitment to their relationship. But can he? Faced with the choice of maintaining his hedonistic, drugged-out, and admittedly fabulous existence or chucking it all in favor of a far more sensitive, fulfilling, and -- let's face it -- slightly staid lifestyle, Tommy finds himself in a true quandary. Through a series of adventures and misadventures that lead him from London nightspots to New York bedrooms and back, our boy Tommy manages to answer some of life's most pressing questions -- and even some he never thought to ask.
Tommy's Tale took me ages to write. But it is one of the things that I am most proud of, in terms of sense of achievement. It is pretty daunting to go into another field and put yourself out there, especially when there is such a disdain of actors turning novelists, and vast intellectual snobbery in the literary world. But I came out of it ok, especially in the UK, where I was really heartened that the book did so well.
Tommy's Tale was begun as an attempt to right an imbalance I felt existed in the stories I read or saw. It is essentially a modern fairy tale: a fairy tale in that fairy tales are usually about someone going on a journey or learning a lesson through a series of adverse circumstances,and ultimately the hero gorws up and there's a happy ending; and modern in that in real life people grow up and have sex and take drugs and try to keep it together.
I wanted to write about how I felt the family unit has changed. In my experience, being someone who has travelled far from his homeland, I began to envy people who still had their family nearby. But then I realised that I had made my own family, only now they were a collection of friends and lovers, each of whom gave me something that added up to what we expect and need from our families. So my friends have become my family.
I also wanted to talk about the desire that a man can have to have a child. We often hear abut a woman's ticking clock and the overwhelming urges to procreate. But I felt really strong urges like that too, though it seemed as if that was a woman's domain and it felt wrong to voice them. So in this book I do, and I also talk about dealing with those urges if you are neither in a relationship that can produce a child, or indeed if you don't even want to be in a relationship at all. What do you do with those feelings?
Finally I wanted to combine two realms that I love and that I hope are not mutually exclusive: dirty druggy nights out and fairy tales.
Geeky fact 1: In The Anniversary Party, Joe, the character I play has written a novel called Tommy's Tale, and a copy of it is on the shelves in the house. Jennifer designed the book jacket. So in a way I was sort of creatively visualising the future (or more like trying to embarass myself into finishing it!)
Geeky fact 2: i had the biggest battle with the US publisher about the cover, because originaly there were a woman's legs sticking out of the bath too, and I felt that it was a misleading image considering the subject matter of the book. She even went as far as to offer to add hairs to the woman's legs, but finally she backed down and they were airbrushed out!
In 2001, after The Anniversary Party was released, Joe Mantegna from the commercial company Zooma Zooma approached me about possibly joining his roster of directors with a view to directing commercials.
In November I shot my first (and only!) commercial, an anti-smoking PSA called It's Legal. I was able to change the setting of the story and shoot it on a boat that is moored in Chelsea, NYC to give the spot a more eerie ambience, and I was also happy to be able to use several of my friends in roles.
I appear to have been something of a media whore in 2001.
Well, I did have Design For Living, Spy Kids, The Anniversary Party and Josie and the Pussycats all happening. Some of the shows i whored myself to were MTV's Hot Zone, The Kirsty Wark Show, E! Daily News, Access Hollywood, CNN Lifestyles, Live with Regis and Kelly, Conan, Today in NYC!
in October 2001 I was asked to appear on a celebrity edition of The Weakest Link, entitled Scene Stealers. Now first of all I have issue with that phrase. I sort of think that if you are stealing the scene then in some way you are diverting attention from what the scene should be about, and I think it infers a level of showing off and pulling focus. However sometimes I think it can mean that the scene demands a sort of bravura performance, which the writer intended, and the actor is justified in his or her flourishes.
So I got over it. And it meant I would get ten thousand dollars for a charity of my choice (in this case Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS), and they'd fly me to LA and put me up at my favourite hotel, The Chateau Marmont, and I could have fun with my LA peeps. So I did it.
It was insane!! First of all it took about 9 hours from start to finish, and secondly Anne Robinson was scary! Well, not really. She is very nice when she is not being Anne, and I have seen her out of Anne drag with her daughter and she is a darling, but her whole scary head mistress persona is very formidable! The video here shows me very nervous but still fighting back!
The funniest thing was all the alliances that were being made in the make-up room, and how everyone got quite aggressive. Ice T was very scary. I was in an alliance with the lovely Kathy Najimy and Anthony Anderson amongst others, and I was feeling very good about myself having won several rounds but then it was down to just the three of us and as the man says 'statistically Alan was the strongest link' and so they bumped me! It was quite a life lesson i can tell you.
I recorded a duet of Baby, It's Cold Outside with Liza Minnelli for an album of Christmas songs entitled Home For The Holidays, though I always thought it should have been called Homo For The Holidays as it was the gayest thing ever.
The album benefitted Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the 9/11 Firefighters Fund.