Eddie Izzard (Six Minutes to Midnight)
They Dont Like It Up Em!
Eddie Izzard, the wildly-admired and inventive comic, was in a museum in the British resort town of Bexhill-on-Sea, where she spent much time as a child, when historians showed her an old badge from the Augusta Victoria school for girls in the 1930s. There was a Union Jack on the crest — and a Nazi swastika.
It planted an idea that has become a film; Six Minutes to Midnight, starring Izzard, Dame Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, and Carla Juri. Izzard says Bexhill-on-Sea has an aristocratic history and at one time, an astonishing number of schools — including the Augusta Victoria school.
German girls came over to learn English, get to know the British aristocracy, she says. It was a Nazi leaning school that had the Nazi swastika in their emblem, as well as the Union Jack. And they were trying to make friends, Hitler was trying to make friends with the English because some of the English were into the Nazis, and his idea was that they would be part of the Aryan super race and go on — probably under his jurisdiction — into some sort of future that was a Nazi world.
And that was what we based our thriller on top of. The thriller parts of the story are artistic license, Izzard adds, But the story of the school being there is absolutely true.
On playing the half German, half English teacher Thomas Miller - I think it is interesting, the idea that he is half British, half German, you know — the Germans do not trust him, he is half British. The British do not trust him, he is half German.
He is kind of like a representative from the modern audience there, who just wants the world to work and not fall into this Armageddon that it is about to get into. He comes into the school. He is a teacher. But then you find that things are not exactly what they seem.
On the challenges of being a standup comedian writing a screenplay -It is quite different. And my standup, I do not even write. I sort of develop it from ideas and kind of riff on it, kind of in a jazz way, until I have got a piece that works. And so story structure, characters, how they interact, I knew I had to get on top of that and develop an ability in that.
And I also needed to work with other writers, and working with my other collaborators we pushed it to this place. And having the head of the school being a Nazi-sympathetic Englishwoman, the idea was why dont you pitch to Judi Dench? And Judi kind of wants to do roles that she is not expected to do. So she was up for doing it. And that is how we got to that position.
On how the Nazis would react to being portrayed by a gender-fluid British comedian - Hopefully Hitler is revolving in some trench just above Hitlers bunker in fact, because everything that he stands for, I am absolutely against. Absolutely against the extreme right wing who we thought had gone away in 1945.
But of course, those ideas stuck around and those people just went quiet. And then future generations, as you will know in your country, my country, the extreme right still is around and they have this simple thing of, why not use lying as a tool of politics?
And right wing politicians use it all the time, and they seem to be back in fashion. So ... that was scary back in the 1930s, and as we head towards the 2030s, I am trying to encourage people head forwards. I am gender fluid. I am doing marathons and performing gigs in different languages and my standup.
On performing in other languages - Not all languages, but specifically French, German and Spanish. And I want to add Arabic, because I was born in an Arabic country, and Russian, I want to add those as well.
I feel you wont get through to the French unless you are performing in French. The Germans for the history, two world wars when we were on the opposite side, Russian to thank them for ... the Russian people. It was not Stalin, it was Zhukov, General Zhukov and the Russian people who helped us. Without them, we would not have won the Second World War.
At a time when a number of right wing politicians around the world are saying separate, nationalism, pull back, lets go back to when everyone hated each other, who do you want to hate, well, come up with something to feed the hate with.
I am saying now, the rest of us are saying, no, make more connections, even stronger connections than before. Go to other people in different countries and say, what are you doing? Can we learn from you? Can you learn from us? And how could I put my money where my mouth is?
Well, I will do gigs in those languages, and prove that humor is in fact human and not national.
Official Six Minutes to Midnight Movie Trailer