BELIEVE – THE EDDIE IZZARD STORY REVEALS THE SENSATIONAL CLIMB OF THIS CLEVER COMIC MIND
DVD of British documentary explores Eddie’s one-of-a-kind wit through intimate backstage access to Izzard, friends and family, plus acclaimed performance clips
Eddie Izzard has starred in his own provocative TV drama series, sold out Broadway theaters, made hit movies, and convulsed stand-up comedy audiences around the world. He isn’t a triple threat – he’s a quadruple or quintuple threat. But it’s his career-making one-man shows that established Izzard as perhaps the most imaginatively funny mind of our time. Most recently Eddie became one of the few comedians to ever sell out Madison Square Garden with his Stripped Too: The Big Intimacy Tour, now performing in select cities.
Who else would even think to explore what it’s like being raised by wolves or what fruit thinks as it ripens? And to make it both hilarious and insightful? (And to do it in sequins and heels?) Training his crazy-clever wit on an inspired array of targets, Izzard presents such a unique perspective – and such a distinct stream-of-consciousness storytelling style — that it’s hard to imagine what makes Eddie run.
Until, that is, this celebrated writer-performer opens up in the revealing life portrait Believe – The Eddie Izzard Story, arriving on DVD from Salient Media on March 2, 2010.
The fast-paced 103-minute documentary blends side-splitting clips from Izzard’s outrageous HBO comedy concerts (Dress to Kill, Sexie) with emotionally candid moments backstage as Izzard brainstorms his latest act from scratch.
Director Sarah Townsend revisits his remarkable life by weaving a multi-layered tapestry around Eddie’s own confessions to the camera. Insights come from charming childhood home movies, enlightening vintage street-comedy footage, and friend/celebrity interviews including Robin Williams and George Clooney. There’s also Eddie’s father, whose career took the family from Yemen to Northern Ireland amid “the troubles,” now musing on the impact of those moves (and on his son’s youthful fascination with his mother’s stockings). And ultimately, there’s the openness of Izzard himself. He frankly ponders past paths, and even confronts the comedy truth-in-advertising controversy that demoralized him into a three-year retreat from his free-associating stage comedy.
Cameras get intimate access to his comedy comeback tour, watching Izzard work around the world to refine his latest inspirations prior to a crucial debut at London’s prestigious Wembley Arena. Woven alongside are flashbacks charting Eddie’s amazing comedy trajectory, beginning with his childhood dive into performing to ease the blow of his mother’s death when he was 6. Exhilarating early footage captures a teenage Eddie already improvising his trademark rambling dissections of human language and behavior. His path to fame sees him riding unicycles outside Covent Garden, then crashing the big time by daring to open his own London comedy club. In another stunning gamble, Izzard “comes out” as a transvestite – and comedy fans only become more fascinated with his risk-taking, both wit and wardrobe.
Izzard keeps tackling challenges, learning to perform comedy in French for the clubs of France. His acclaimed HBO special Dress to Kill nabs him a pair of Emmys in competition with comic giants like Chris Rock and Billy Crystal. During his three-year standup hiatus, he manages to wow Broadway drama audiences (A Day in the Death of Joe Egg), make blockbuster movies (Oceans Twelve), and lay the groundwork to take American TV by storm by producing his own hour series, The Riches (FX), the smart study of a con couple trying to steal the American dream.
Believe director Sarah Townsend has believed in Izzard for 20 years, since he came to perform at a venue she was running. Despite falling asleep the first time she saw him, Townsend would become a steadfast fan, collaborator and, for a time, Eddie’s (ex-)girlfriend. Her access to Izzard’s friends, family and colleagues facilitates the broad scope of this affectionate yet clear-eyed chronicle of a complex personality.
Believe zeroes in on just that – Izzard’s gutsy resolve to keep writing, performing and reinventing himself in the face of skepticism and even scandal. Townsend’s dynamic storytelling captures Eddie’s comedy evolution from London street-show escape artist to standup sensation to eloquent provocateur.