South Beach’s trendy Delano Hotel was the site for my interview with Rupert Everett . I was escorted to the cabana where the interview would take place. Rupert was casually dressed, and although he appeared to be growing weary of the barrage of reporters asking him questions, he was very cordial. The witty and talented actor got his big break in the film My Best Friend’s Wedding , with Julia Roberts. He recently received a Golden Globe nomination for his work in An Ideal Husband , with Julianne Moore. The purpose of today’s interview is to discuss his current project, The Next Best Thing , which also stars Madonna.
The film shows an unlikely twist of fate. Two single, lonely friends have a fling. Normally, this wouldn’t be amazingly uncommon. Abbie and Robert (Madonna and Rupert Everett) would make a great couple if Robert weren’t gay. Abbie becomes pregnant after their liaison. A decision is made that the couple will live together as a family. This decision starts the roller coaster ride that the characters endure throughout the film.
The Next Best Thing was described to me as a romantic comedy. After seeing it, I couldn’t really categorize it. How would you describe it?
I think it’s a romantic comedy/tragedy. That’s one of the things I find very appealing about it, that attracted me to it from the beginning. It’s a film that shifts its tone halfway through. It starts off as a comedy and ends up as a tragedy. It’s got a bit of both, really.
The film shows a pretty unconventional family. Do you think this is a statement about families in the 21st century?
They are unconventional in one way, they’re not that unconventional as people. They live a normal kind of suburban home, wouldn’t you say? What’s unconventional is the situation that’s thrust upon them, and I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of that type of thing in the 21st century. One thing that I think is interesting about the story is it puts up the debate — what makes a family? What makes a father? What is blood’s position? Is it just about blood, or is it about something else? I think those are issues we are going to be seeing more of in the next few years.
After seeing this film, do you think people will feel differently about accepting these types of families?
I think, you know, basically everybody is very conservative in the world, and all people are doing is wanting to get back to how we were before, and this is the worst thing for humanity. We were lungfish one day, and now we’re here. We’re moving and moving and moving and everything must keep moving, or nothing happens, so, you know, they’re just going to have to deal with it. Things are going to change a lot. The positions of men and women are changing. The woman’s character, psyche, and spirit are a less dangerous one to the earth than the male spirit is, wouldn’t you say?
I agree with that. What do you hope after people see the film, that they will walk away with?
A ticket for tomorrow night. I hope they’ve had a laugh and I hope they’ve had a cry. I hope they think I’m a good dad. I hope they hate the legal system, and I just hope they have a good time.
What made you decide to take on the role of Robert?
Because after I had been in My Best Friend’s Wedding , I didn’t think I would have the success that I did with that, and to hit such a large public. I wanted to find another similar thing that was playing a gay character that’s still fun and charming, funny and accessible, but that has something slightly more to the story than singing and dancing. This seemed like a really good story.
Your character had to go through some really difficult and emotional situations in the film. Was this a tough role for you?
Well, I wrote it, me and my writing partner rewrote the screenplay for me and Madonna. I tailor made it for myself.
You did the character how you wanted it.
It was a weird thing, it wasn’t that it was difficult or easy because I kind of planned the whole thing all the way through.
From what I understand, you and Madonna are friends off camera. What was it like working with her?
Good. She’s very opinionated and so am I, she doesn’t like standing down, nor do I, she hates losing, so do I. We had a very lively debate on things. I have an enormous amount of respect for her. She has great taste about things, and is normally right about stuff. It was a good experience for me.
The song “American Pie” is in the film, and I am told that you sing background vocals on the cover that Madonna is doing, and you are also in the video. Are you a singer?
I am now. I’ve always done a little bit of singing. That was a very exciting part of it for me, because I wrote “American Pie” into the movie so that she could do the cover for it. It was the first record I ever bought, and I thought it was just such a good millennium song.
Any more singing?
I don’t know.
You said you were involved in writing the screenplay. You’ve also written two novels. Any more writing of novels or screenplays in the future for you?
Screenplays, not novels, no.
You have had a wide body of work and worked with some great actors. Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you would like to?
I wouldn’t mind working with Angelina Jolie. I would like to work with… I like big divas… I would like to work with Meryl Streep.
John Schlesinger, who directed the film, won an Oscar for Midnight Cowboy , and has done some amazing work. How was it working with him?
It was great working with him. I’m a big fan.
What are your future plans?
I finish my movie in about April, that I’m doing now. And then I’m going to be on holiday.
What movie are you doing now?
One called Unconditional Love , with PJ Hogan, who directed My Best Friend’s Wedding , and I ‘m going back to Chicago this afternoon, where there is nine inches of snow.