Eddie Izzard: Global 'Treasure'

by 5:37 AM PDT, July 26, 2012
Photo: Getty Images

Diversity has defined Eddie Izzard's career -- he's worked in film, on television and dominated the stage. Now, in the coming months, he's set to do all three once again before entering uncharted waters and running for political office.

But before Eddie brings his unique knack for dissecting world events through a historical context to modern day affairs, he's set to embark on another speaking tour, star in a Treasure Island sequel and return to television with NBC's hotly anticipated Munsters update, Mockingbird Land. ETonline caught up with the two-time Emmy winner to talk about all three, and what you can expect from his next act!

ETonline: Treasure Island is a well-told story -- what excited you about this version?
Eddie Izzard: I wanted to do an edgy and dark adaptation. I feel like the other Treasure Island's have been a bit too campy and family friendly. I think pirates have lost their edge over the centuries, so I wanted to do a story about 20 guys who go out and only four come back. I think ours can rank up there as, if not the best one, one of the best ones going. We're already looking at Treasure Island 2.

ETonline: What excites you about seeing more from these men?
Izzard: There's some intriguing things about people who were villains or pirates in those days. You could argue there was more democracy with pirates. Justice was harder to find and death was swifter, but they had votes -- women could vote even before America allowed it. There's the bit at the end about the gentleman. That was considered making it. If you got to be a gentleman, the amount you work drops off greatly and you live off the fat of the land. There's this idea of making it. Pirates were the rock and roll people of that time. They were the people who'd made it outside the system.

ETonline: Physically, your Long John Silver has a very distinct look. How did you settle on his aesthetic?
Izzard: I was thinking he'd have this long hair, but they brought me a mockup of him with this shaved head, and I'd been looking to shave my head for some time. Internally, he kept changing flags. He was with the pirates and then against the pirates, and then with the pirates again. The only person who has done that successfully in real life is Churchill. He was in the conservative party then he changed to the liberal party and then changed back again. It was unheard of at the time. And then he was pushed out of politics. Then, when the political sh*t hit the fan when Hitler arrived, he was brought back in. So Churchill was someone I thought about a lot. I wanted to put him in there. I also asked if we could show Silver cutting his leg off to show what a determined person he was.

ETonline: Your grasp of, and perspective on, history has always been so exciting as a fan. Will that once again be the gist of your 2013/2014 tour?
Izzard: I think I'm a historical political/social political commentator. I talk about where we sit in the world, what we did, is there a God, why do we hate, what is this all about. It's all about the perspective because if you did something about Barack Obama right now, you record it and two years later, it looks dated. The world changes so fast. I'm going to run for office in 8 years though. I will put all my creative careers into deep hibernation. That's why I need 8 years to pack it up and do everything I can.

ETonline: Before you do, you'll star in NBC's Mockingbird Land. What excited you about this show?
Izzard: Trying to get inside those characters is very intriguing. Bryan Fuller's take with this series could dramatically go to quite a dark place. Maybe you seem humanity in juxtaposition with seeing monsters behave in a similar and dissimilar way. Where we go can be quite unusual and I was intrigued. It was not the next move in my career. I'm very much someone who has military planning of their career, but because of Bryan Fuller, I said, lets try this.

ETonline: Fuller revealed some footage at Comic-Con -- will you be in heavy prosthetics the whole time?
Izzard: No. I transition at the end of episode one. I would not have signed up if that was the case. It was 5 hours in. So, no [laughs].

ETonline: What's your take on the state of TV today?
Izzard: I think it's a golden age with the internet and the niche market of intelligent people watching good stuff. There are good roles for men and women in their 30s, 40s and 50s. I was very happy to return. I wanted to do drama that was quirky as opposed to a comedy with serious moments. We will see how it lands.

ETonline: What is it you hope people take away from Mockingbird?
Izzard: I'd like them to find out some truths about humanity by seeing inhuman people behave in a similar way. I want us to be a mirror to society. I want all the characters to be fleshed out because in the rather broad comedy of the original, these colors were thinner. I'm looking for the things that are driving us in complicated directions.

Treasure Island is now available on DVD. Click here to order.