Today I met and interviewed Rupert Everett.
In the afternoon I caught the bus to Piccadilly and the home of the BAFTAs, where Rupert Everett’s new documentary ‘The Scandalous Adventures of Lord Byron was being previewed. I had been sent to write about it. At first I thought I had got off at the wrong bus stop, but the famous golden mask above a doorway across the road told me I had come to the right place. It was with a little trepidation that I stepped inside and headed to the reception, although introducing myself as ‘Libby Page from the Evening Standard’ did give me a guilty thrill. I went up some stairs and into the Princess Anne Theatre, where I was met by Rupert Everett’s PR people, and journalists from several newspapers and magazines. A crowd of photographers and cameras huddled at the front of the room waiting for Rupert Everett to arrive.
Although nervous to be on my own in a room full of high-flying journalists and not really sure of what was going on, I tried to talk to people. So, how long have you been working at the Evening Standard then Libby? Um, 2 days. I was happily surprised how supportive everyone was when I said I was on work experience; no one shouted ‘get out you phoney, only real journalists allowed here’ as the nervous me half-expected.
The room went quiet when Rupert Everett arrived. But only for an instant, before the wall of cameras started clicking and flashing. Turn this way Mr. Everett. One look over your shoulder please Mr. Everett. The camera flashes illuminated his face, stronger and rougher than I had expected, but still possessing that famous surly expression.
He then sat and and talked to journalist after journalist who formed a line to interview him. I had not been expecting to get a chance to talk to him, and I had no questions prepared, but when one of the PR girls organising the queue signalled to me, I wasn’t about to say no. Instead I shook his hand and sat down next to him. It was strange to be sat next to someone you are so used to seeing on a tv screen. Watching films you form a preconceived idea of someone; he was surprising and typical Everett all at the same time. More muscular than I had thought, and taller, he certainly doesn’t look his 50 years. His voice sounds like chocolate and I couldn’t help but feel in awe at the grave passion with which he spoke about Byron and the documentary.
I asked him what in particular fascinated him about Lord Byron. He cited his shadowy, brooding and mysterious character as one of the elements. “Studying Lord Byron is like chasing a ghost, which makes it constantly fascinating”.
Everett follows Byron’s journey through the Mediterranean, from Lisbon to Albania. He presents his journey with wit and an arrogance that I find at times endearing, at others alienating. It is a romp of a documentary, and for this I think perhaps Everett is perfectly suited.
Hearing Everett speak and watching the documentary, it is easy to draw comparisons between the presenter and his subject. After the documentary there was a question and answer session, in which he admitted to being “vaguely bipolar” like Byron. “If you have to be like someone he’s a great person to be like, but Byron was a much more serious person than I am.” I would disagree. Despite his rambunctious wit and peals of theatrical laughter, I found Rupert Everett to also have a grave air of seriousness about him. He was in total control of the room from the second he came in, and perhaps it was down to a theatrical arrogance, but I would say it was more intelligent than that.
Overall the evening was a real experience. My first interview; I could have asked better questions and written a better article, but then everyone has to learn somewhere. And if nothing else, I had a lovely time sipping white wine and chatting to journalists in the BAFTA bar before the preview!