I first clapped eyes on Rupert Everett when he exploded on the London scene in the late Seventies. I was vegetating at a smart sit down dinner for Andy Warhol in the newly refurbished Casserole restaurant on Kings Road. It used to be a nice ordinary restaurant, populated mainly by drugged out members of the British aristocracy, where you could sit at wooden tables and fall happily into your soup. Then, Nicki Haslam, the social interior decorator put white billowing tents on the ceiling, transforming the restaurant into a pretentious Bedouin styled scenario.
‘The restaurant was packed. There was nowhere to sit but I was about to fall down, so I squeezed on to the edge of a banquette and had a quick nap. A few minutes later I opened my eyes to find three extra-ordinary faces looking at me with amusement. Lady Diana Cooper wore a hat like a medium’s lampshade with long white tassels. Next to her sat Andy Warhol under a weird peroxide wig, plonked the wrong way round on his head, and Bianca Jagger was sleek and glowing beside me with delicious smelling pomade in her hair. We introduced ourselves and I apologised with half-open eyes for the intrusion,’ is a quote from “Red Carpets and other banana skins”, Rupert Everett’s recently published autobiography.
My memory has it that Rupert stormed into the restaurant and brazenly plonked himself down next to Bianca and stole the show. All eyes were on him as this handsome looking intruder chatted her up like there was no tomorrow. But, “Red Carpets and other banana skins” is Rupert’s autobiography not mine.
Rupert Everett is a gifted actor, whose role as Guy Bennett in “Another Country” in 1984 blasted him to international stardom. Since then, he has worked periodically on the stage, specifically for Glasgow Citizens, and appeared in countless ‘A’ list movies including “Dance With A Stranger”, “The madness of King George III” and wowed Hollywood for his work on “My Best Friend’s Wedding”, in which he portrayed Julia Robert’s gay best friend. In 2007, he will be seen in Matthew Vaughn’s new film, “Stardust”, in which he co-stars with Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, and “Shrek III”, in which his distinctive voice again provides the Prince Charming role.
Rupert (‘Roopie Poopie’ to his friends) is unlike the majority of modern day celebrities who hire ghostwriters to script their life stories. Unlike the Jordans of this world, he has physically written his autobiography, titled “Red Carpets and other banana skins”, and has done a very good job too. He’s primarily an actor but his life story is so well written, he could easily cross over into becoming a professional writer if his parts dry up. But, as he is a character actor as well as a leading man, that concept seems highly unlikely.
I gobbled up Rupert Everett’s exhilarating, celebrity stuffed life story. I couldn’t put it down. For me, I thought the early chapters about his formative years were the most interesting. One really gets to know the writer when he writes amusingly about his childhood and education: prep school, followed by Ampleforth, the catholic public boarding school, where he was educated by monks. Rupert was brought up by his upper-class parents in ‘an old pink farmhouse with a moat, surrounded by the cornfields of Essex.’ His father was a major in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Wiltshire regiment before becoming a stockbroker. It’s surprising that Rupert turned out to be so artistic. But, the first film his mother took him to see was ‘Mary Poppins’, which made a huge impression on him. In later years he would play Julie Andrew’s son in “Duet For One”.
‘And then when Mary Poppins flew effortlessly down into the film something changed for ever. Was it that Julie Andrews looked and behaved somewhat like my mother?’ Rupert recalls.
Rupert Everett’s CV boasts a string of beautiful girlfriends, including a tempestuous love affair with Beatrice Dalle, the French actress. Unfortunately for his female fans, he is now totally gay. His showbusiness anecdotes about Dalle and his other famous girlfriends, i.e. Madonna, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone and Doniatella Versace are insightful, which isn’t surprising as these famous women are amongst his closest friends. Although Rupert didn’t dish the dirt in his book, he made up for it by writing intrusive anecdotes about his celebrity friends. ‘Madonna had a barbecue at her beautiful house on the bay.. it stood in front of a huge expanse of sea and sky and had a strange, uninhabited feeling. You wouldn’t know she lived there; there was nothing personal within it.’
Rupert is an astute observer and a witty commentator about the wild escapades in his glamorous life. He’s definitely a man who loves people, and has a gift for wittily writing about them without being vindictive or bitchy. He also knows how to laugh at himself. When he tried internet dating, he writes: ‘In France at that time there was thing called the mintel, which was like a computer, connected to your telephone. There was a screen and a keyboard and you could cruise online, so in the evenings I would make contact with people all over the region, then Mo and I would set out in the car with our map, to villages in the Alpes Maritimes, or to some suburb of Marseilles, only to find that the young Olympic athlete who had written so disarmingly about his sexual agility was in fact a roly-poly baker who would be hard pushed to touches his toes, let alone anything else.’ Mo was his beloved black labrador, and when he died, Rupert wrote so movingly about losing his best friend, I cried.
“Red Carpets and other banana skins” is a well-written and fast paced read about an iconoclastic thespian’s exciting life, and who knows? A chapter of the book might one day be adapted for Rupert’s coming of age story. He would ideally like to make a movie about his encounter with a drag queen in the Bois de Boulogne when he was a boy. If the film turns out to be as funny, vivid, thrilling and sophisticated as his autobiography, it will be definitely worth seeing.