British star Rupert Everett has waded into the ‘posh actor’ debate, saying Hollywood’s love of upper-class Brits is a fact of life and people just need to accept it.
“Everyone’s whining about that but the fact of the matter is, acting is like hooking. What people want to see is what people want to see,” said Everett, best known for starring opposite Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding. “What the Americans want to see of the English – they don’t want to see snaggle-toothed working class people, obviously. They want to see upper class people – that’s what they want. That’s why they love Downton Abbey.
“The upper class people are making the films that the Americans like but that’s how it is. There’s nothing we can do about that. We can’t force the Americans to change their minds but we could also just not be so envious and bitter about it and celebrate at the same time all the other people who do amazing work and are huge stars in our own country and then get to break out as well.”
Everett is currently starring in A Royal Night Out, about Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret’s adventures outside Buckingham Palace on the night of VE Day in 1945. His comments follow a 2015 Oscars season which saw privately-educated Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch both nominated for a lead actor Oscar. In the latest issue of Radio Times, East End-born actor Eddie Marsan (who stars on Sunday in BBC1 period drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) says “Art is the job of the privileged. You can’t write a screenplay if you’ve been doing a zero-hours contract.”
But Everett argues that despite the global success of Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Eton alumni such as Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis, the domination of ‘posh’ actors was not as widespread as it was often seen to be.
“There’s the Fassbenders, there’s tons of people who aren’t upper class – Daniel Craig isn’t upper class. Actually there are three or four upper class actors from Harrow and Eton but there are tons more from everywhere else and if there’s not, it’s because [Americans] want to see upper class films full stop and showbusiness is about demand. It’s not about forcing people to have what they don’t want – it’s difficult to say what they want to see. They do want to see The Full Monty and when there’s another Full Monty made, they’ll want to see that too.
“The danger of our world is it gets so furious and angry about something – it’s suddenly ‘where are the working class actors?’ But they’re all over the place and doing extremely well, I would say.”
Everett – who left independent boarding school Ampleforth College aged 16 and first found fame opposite Colin Firth in Another Country – singled out British soap stars for particular praise:
“It’s not very fashionable to say it but our soaps are the best soaps in the world. If you look at Coronation Street, if you look at EastEnders, they’re brilliantly made and brilliantly written and brilliantly acted all the time. OK, in the snobbish world you can say they’re only soaps, they’re not going to go to the Oscars but f**k that… They’re extraordinary achievements in British showbusiness.
“They’re incredibly funny, incredibly humorous, incredibly exciting and they’re on the whole much more satisfying than a lot of our tragic old films.
And while the Channel 4 soap may have lost out on a Bafta Award to Coronation Street on Sunday, Everett says, “I really like Hollyoaks at the moment. They’ve taken Hollyoaks in the last two years and they’ve just taken it through the roof.”
Rupert Everett appears opposite Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley and Emily Watson in A Royal Night Out – in UK cinemas from Friday 15th May. Watch the trailer below:
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