Edward John Izzard (/ˈɪzɑːrd/; born 7 February 1962) is an English
stand-up comedian, actor, writer and political activist. His comedic
style takes the form of rambling, whimsical monologue, and
self-referential pantomime. He had a starring role in the television
The Riches as Wayne Malloy and has appeared in films such as
Ocean's Twelve, Ocean's Thirteen, Mystery Men, Shadow of the Vampire,
The Cat's Meow, Across the Universe, Valkyrie and Victoria &
Abdul. He has also worked as a voice actor in The Wild, Igor, The
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,
Cars 2 and The Lego Batman
Izzard has cited his main comedy role model as Monty Python, and John
Cleese once referred to him as the "Lost Python". In 2009, he
completed 43 marathons in 51 days for
Sport Relief despite having no
prior history of long-distance running. He has won numerous awards
including a Primetime Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a
Variety or Music Program for his comedy special Dress to Kill, in
2000. Izzard's website won the
Yahoo People's Choice Award and
earned the Webby Award. Izzard is openly "a straight transvestite"
having cross dressed both on and offstage.
Izzard has campaigned for various causes and has been a Labour party
activist for most of his life. He twice attempted to be elected for a
seat on Labour's National Executive Committee, and when Christine
Shawcroft resigned in March 2018, he automatically took her place.
1 Early life
2.2 Theatrical, TV and film appearances
3 Comic style
4 Political views and activism
5 Personal life
6 Critical reception
9.4 Video games
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
Edward John Izzard was born on 7 February 1962 in the Colony of
Aden, the younger son of English parents Dorothy Ella and Harold
John Michael Izzard. The family name is of French Huguenot origin.
His mother was a midwife and nurse, while his father was an accountant
who was working in Aden with British Petroleum at the time of Izzard's
birth. When Izzard was one year old, the family moved to
Northern Ireland, settling in
Bangor, County Down
Bangor, County Down and living there
until Izzard was five. The family then moved to Wales,
where they lived in Skewen, West Glamorgan.
Izzard's mother died of cancer when Izzard was six and his brother,
Mark, was eight. He and his brother built a model railway
to occupy their time while their mother was ill (it was donated to
Bexhill Museum in 2016). Following his mother's death, Izzard
attended boarding schools such as St John's School in
Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan, as well as St Bede's Prep School and
Eastbourne College. He said that he knew he was a transgender
person at the age of four, after watching another boy being forced
to wear a dress by his sisters, and knew he wanted to be an actor at
the age of seven.
Izzard in 2008
Izzard began to toy with comedy at the University of Sheffield, with
student friend Rob Ballard. After leaving his accountancy
degree course, he and Ballard took their act to the streets,
often in Covent Garden. After his split with Ballard,
Izzard spent a great deal of the early 1980s working as a street
performer in Europe and the United States. Izzard says that he
developed his comedic voice by talking to his audience while doing
solo escape acts after splitting with Ballard. He then moved his
act into the stand-up comedy venues of Britain. His first gig was at
the Banana Cabaret in Balham, London.
In 1987, he made his first stage appearance at the Comedy Store in
London. He refined his material throughout the 1980s, and in the
early 1990s he finally began earning some measure of recognition
through his improvisation, in part at his own club "Raging Bull" in
Izzard speaks French well and has performed stand-up shows in the
language; from 2014 he began to perform in German, Spanish, Russian
and Arabic, all languages that he did not previously speak.
Theatrical, TV and film appearances
Izzard at the 2013
British Academy Awards
In 1994, Izzard made his West End drama debut as the lead in the world
premiere of David Mamet's
The Cryptogram with Lindsay Duncan, in the
production at London's Comedy Theatre. The success of that role led to
his second starring role in David Beaird's black comedy 900 Oneonta.
In 1995, he portrayed the title character in Christopher Marlowe's
In 1998 Izzard appeared briefly on stage with the
Monty Python team in
The American Film Institute's Tribute to
Monty Python (also referred
Monty Python Live at Aspen). He walked on stage with the five
surviving Pythons and he was summarily escorted off by
Eric Idle and
Michael Palin as he attempted to participate in a discussion about how
the group got together. He has appeared in a number of episodes of
BBC 1's Have I Got News For You.
Izzard portrayed comedian
Lenny Bruce in the 1999 production of Julian
Barry's 1971 play Lenny. In 2001, he replaced
Clive Owen in Peter
Nichols' 1967 play
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the Comedy
Theatre. Izzard and
Victoria Hamilton then repeated their lead roles
when the show was brought to Broadway in 2003, with the Roundabout
Theatre Company production. The revival received four Tony Award
nominations including Best Revival of a Play, Best Leading Actor and
Actress for its stars Izzard and Hamilton in their Broadway debuts,
and Best Direction for Laurence Boswell. In June 2010, Izzard replaced
James Spader in the role of Jack Lawson in David Mamet's play Race on
Izzard has appeared in numerous films, starting with 1996's The Secret
Agent. He has appeared as several real-life individuals, including
Charlie Chaplin in The Cat's Meow, actor
Gustav von Wangenheim
Gustav von Wangenheim in
Shadow of the Vampire
Shadow of the Vampire and General
Erich Fellgiebel in Valkyrie. Other
roles have included Mr. Kite in Across the Universe, Lussurioso in
Revengers Tragedy and criminal expert Roman Nagel in Ocean's Twelve
and Ocean's Thirteen. Voice work has included the titular It in Five
Children and It, Nigel in
The Wild and the mouse warrior
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. He said in 2009 that he
would not be reprising his role as
Reepicheep and the role was
ultimately played by
Simon Pegg in The Chronicles of Narnia: The
Voyage of the Dawn Treader. He has stated he felt he learnt to act
whilst working on the film Circus.
Izzard appeared in the 2009 BBC science fiction miniseries The Day of
the Triffids based on the 1951 novel, alongside Jason Priestley,
Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson,
Dougray Scott and Brian Cox.
Izzard presented the medals to the athletes who had won the 800m T54
race at the
London 2012 Paralympic Games, including gold medalist
He played Dr. Hatteras, a sceptical psychology professor, in the
Showtime series United States of Tara and appeared in six episodes
of the 2013–15 American psychological thriller–horror television
series Hannibal as Dr. Abel Gideon.
In June 2017 Izzard read extracts from his autobiography Believe Me
for BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week.
Elliott Gould and
Eddie Izzard in 2006
Izzard uses a stream-of-consciousness delivery that jumps between
topics. As he put it in a 2004 interview with The Guardian, "It's the
oral tradition. Human beings have been doing it for thousands of
years". His bent towards the surreal even went so far as to
produce a sitcom called Cows in 1997 for Channel 4, a live action
comedy with actors dressed in cowsuits.
Political views and activism
Izzard has engaged in campaigning work. He is especially well known as
European Union campaigner, supporting the further integration of
the UK into the EU. In May 2005, he appeared on the BBC's political
debate show Question Time, describing himself as a "British-European",
comparing this with other cultural identities such as
"African-American". As part of his integration campaigning, he was one
of the first people to spend a Euro in London. This pan-European
approach has influenced his work; he regularly performs in
French and occasionally in German. On 16 June 2017, on the
"Overtime" segment of
HBO political talk show Real Time with Bill
Maher, Izzard claimed to be working in four languages: Spanish,
German, French and English.
In July 2003, Izzard received an honorary
Doctorate of Letters
Doctorate of Letters from
the University of East Anglia, Norwich, for "pro-Europe campaigning",
"his contribution to promoting modern languages and tolerance of other
cultures and lifestyles", and for having "transcended national
barriers" with his humour. He has also campaigned unsuccessfully
against the closure of the departments of Drama and Languages,
Linguistics and Translation at the University of East Anglia, although
the department of Drama was later reprieved.
In 1998, Izzard was named in a list of the biggest private financial
donors to the Labour Party. He appeared in a party political
broadcast for the Labour Party in the run up to the 2005 general
election. He donated nearly £10,000 to the party in 2008,
appeared again in a party political broadcast for the 2009 European
election, and again in a 2010 election video entitled Brilliant
Britain. Izzard appeared in literature to support changing the British
electoral system from first-past-the-post to alternative vote for
electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in the
Alternative Vote referendum in 2011. In 2011, Izzard revealed that
he had political ambitions and wanted to become an MP, Mayor, or MEP
by 2020. On 25 February 2016, Izzard announced his intention to
stand for the
National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. It
was announced on 9 August 2016 that Izzard had failed to be elected to
On 20 July 2006, he received an honorary doctorate in Letters from the
Faculty of Arts at the University of Sheffield, where he spent one
year on an Accounting and Financial Management course in the early
1980s. During his time at the university he established the
now-defunct Alternative Productions Society in the Union of Students
with the aim of promoting fringe-based arts. On 4 March 2010, he was
elected as the Honorary President of the University of Sheffield
On 7 July 2007, Izzard was one of the presenters from the
of Live Earth. During an interview for the 2008 Stripped tour, he
spoke about becoming more active in European politics as well as
running for political office in Europe within the next decade. Izzard
added a stop in
New Orleans during his 2008 Stripped tour. All
proceeds from the performance of 23 June 2008 were donated to
Neighbourhood Housing Services of New Orleans.
In March 2014, Izzard began leading a campaign encouraging Scots not
to vote for independence in the September referendum, saying that
England would feel a "deep sense of loss" if Scotland were to leave
Izzard is an outspoken supporter of the Labour Party. In September
2011, he declared his ambition to stand for the party in the future as
an MP, MEP, or Mayor of London, announcing an intention to stand
London mayoral election
London mayoral election in 2020. When asked on comedy
The Last Leg
The Last Leg why he thought he might be elected, he replied
"Boris Johnson". He is also a republican, believing that Britain
should have a democratically elected head of state. He has stated
that he is a social democrat, not a socialist.
Izzard confirmed his support for Labour in the 2015 general election,
attending a party rally with fellow comedian
Ben Elton and actress
Sally Lindsay in April 2015.
On 27 July 2009, with only 5 weeks' training and no significant prior
running experience, Izzard began seven weeks of back-to-back marathon
runs (with Sundays off) across the UK to raise money for Sport Relief.
He ran from
Edinburgh and back to
London, carrying the flag of the country — England, Scotland, or
Wales — in which he was running. In
Northern Ireland he carried a
self-designed green flag bearing a white dove. The blog Eddie Iz
Running documented his 43 marathons in 51 days, covering at least 27
miles per day (totaling more than 1,100 miles), ending on 15 September
2009. He received a special award at BBC Sports Personality of the
Year in 2009 for his achievements. In March 2010, Izzard took part
Sport Relief Mile event.
On 16 February 2016 the BBC announced that Izzard would attempt to run
27 marathons in 27 days, through
South Africa for Sport Relief.
The significance of the number 27 came from the number of years spent
in prison by Nelson Mandela. In total Izzard would aim to run more
than 700 miles, in temperatures of up to 40 °C. Izzard completed
his first marathon on 23 February. He attempted such a project in
South Africa in 2012, but withdrew with health concerns. He
completed the marathon challenge on 20 March, at the statue of Mandela
in front of the
Union Buildings in Pretoria. Because he had spent one
day in hospital, he had to run two consecutive marathons on this last
day. He raised more than £1.35M for Sport Relief. A BBC
documentary, detailing his feat, was broadcast on 28 March.
In May 2017, Izzard declared his intention to become a Labour
politician after endorsing Labour Party leader
Jeremy Corbyn in the
2017 UK general election. He said: "I like Jeremy Corbyn. He believes
in what he says." In October, he announced a renewed bid for
election to Labour's National Executive Committee. In January
2018, it was announced that Izzard had failed in his second bid to be
elected to the NEC. On 31 March 2018,
Christine Shawcroft resigned
from the Labour Party's NEC. Izzard automatically replaced her and
will serve until the next NEC election, to be held in summer 2018.
During his Stripped tour, Izzard said he realised he was an atheist.
He said, "I was warming the material up in New York, where one night,
literally on stage, I realised I didn't believe in God at all. I just
didn't think there was anyone upstairs." He has since described
himself as a spiritual atheist, saying, "I don't believe in the guy
upstairs, I believe in us."
Izzard keeps his romantic life private, citing the wishes of his
companions not wanting to become content for his show. He dated
Sarah Townsend, who later directed the documentary Believe: The Eddie
Izzard Story, and whom he first met while she was running a Fringe
venue at the
Edinburgh Festival in 1989.
Izzard supports Crystal Palace FC and became an associate director at
the club on 16 July 2012.
Izzard started to freely talk about his transvestism in venues like
Edinburgh Festival as early as 1992. His stance is that
cross-dressing is neither part of his performance nor a sexual
fetish. He remarks in his show
Unrepeatable that "women wear what
they want and so do I". According to Izzard, "Most transvestites fancy
women." He calls himself "a straight transvestite, or male
lesbian". He has also said he is "a lesbian trapped in a man's
body", transgender, and "a complete boy plus half
girl". He has expressed a belief that being transgender is caused
by genetics and that someday this will be scientifically proven,
having gone so far as to have his own genome sequenced.
On 18 March 2007, Izzard was listed as number 3 of the 100 Greatest
British National Comedians (behind
Peter Kay at number 2 and Billy
Connolly at number 1) as part of British television station Channel
4's ongoing 100 Greatest..., series. In the 2010 updated version of
the list he was ranked 5th.
In 2012, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of
On 20 February 2013, Izzard received the 6th Annual Outstanding
Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism — an award
Harvard University each year by the Humanist Community at
Harvard, the American Humanist Association, and the Harvard
Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics.
In 2015, Izzard was chosen, by readers of The Guardian, as their 2014
public language champion. The award was announced in central London,
at the Guardian and
British Academy 2014 Schools Language Awards, as
part of the annual Language Festival.
Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens (2017), Michael
Joseph, ISBN 978-0718181727.
15 November 1993
Live at the Ambassadors
14 March 1994
21 October 1996
17 November 1997
9 November 1998
Dress to Kill
18 November 2002
26 November 2003
23 November 2009
15 January 2011
Live at Madison Square Garden
18 November 2013
The Oncoming Storm
The Secret Agent
Shadow of the Vampire
Gustav von Wangenheim
The Cat's Meow
All the Queen's Men
Five Children and It
Romance & Cigarettes
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Across the Universe
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Eddie Izzard Story
The Other Side
Sir Miles Axelrod
Also executive producer
Day Out of Days
The Lego Batman Movie
Victoria & Abdul
Bertie, Prince of Wales
Barf Bites Back
Aristophanes: The Gods are Laughing
Tales from the Crypt
Rex the Runt
Melting Blob Man / Easter Island Head Aliens (voices)
Python Night – 30 Years of Monty Python
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
The Secret Policeman's Ball
Wayne Malloy/Doug Rich
The Secret Policeman's Ball
The Day of the Triffids
Nigel Bakerbutcher /
Elizabeth II /
Prince Charles (voices)
Episode: "To Surveil with Love"
United States of Tara
The Good Wife
Episode: "The Death Zone"
The Secret Policeman's Ball
Long John Silver
Bullet in the Face
Meet the Izzards
Two episode documentary
Dr. Abel Gideon
Castles in the Sky
"Big Bad" Wolfe
The Devil You Know
900 Oneonta (1994)
The Cryptogram (1994)
Edward II (1995)
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2001–2002, 2003)
102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue
Sgt. Tibbs (voice)
Cars 2: The Video Game
Sir Miles Axlerod (voice)
Cross-dressing in film and television
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Eddie Izzard on IMDb
Eddie Izzard at AllMovie
Interview with Izzard – The Observer, 3 October 2004
It's stupid and I love it – the Goon Show and me – The Guardian,
14 February 2005.
Izzard interviewed by
Bono – The Independent, 16 May 2006
Venus Zine Staff Picks: Eddie Izzard, Dress to Kill
Awards for Eddie Izzard
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play
Anthony Hopkins (1975)
John Wood (1976)
Al Pacino (1977)
Barnard Hughes (1978)
Philip Anglim (1979)
John Rubinstein (1980)
Ian McKellen (1981)
Christopher Plummer (1982)
Harvey Fierstein (1983)
Dustin Hoffman (1984)
John Lithgow (1985)
Ed Harris (1986)
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones (1987)
Ron Silver (1988)
Philip Bosco (1989)
Nathan Lane (1990)
Ron Rifkin (1991)
Brian Bedford (1992)
Ron Leibman (1993)
Brian Bedford (1994)
Ralph Fiennes (1995)
Frank Langella (1996)
David Morse /
Christopher Plummer (1997)
Anthony LaPaglia (1998)
Brian Dennehy (1999)
Stephen Dillane (2000)
Richard Easton (2001)
Alan Bates (2002)
Eddie Izzard (2003)
Kevin Kline (2004)
Brían F. O'Byrne (2005)
Richard Griffiths (2006)
Frank Langella (2007)
Mark Rylance (2008)
Geoffrey Rush (2009)
Liev Schreiber (2010)
Bobby Cannavale (2011)
James Corden (2012)
Tracy Letts (2013)
Bryan Cranston (2014)
Alex Sharp (2015)
Frank Langella (2016)
Kevin Kline (2017)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a
Variety or Music Program
Perry Como /
Dinah Shore (1959)
Harry Belafonte (1960)
Fred Astaire (1961)
Carol Burnett (1962)
Carol Burnett (1963)
Danny Kaye (1964)
Art Carney (1967)
Art Carney /
Pat Paulsen (1968)
Arte Johnson /
Harvey Korman (1969)
Harvey Korman (1971)
Harvey Korman (1972)
Tim Conway (1973)
Harvey Korman /
Brenda Vaccaro (1974)
Jack Albertson /
Cloris Leachman (1975)
Chevy Chase /
Vicki Lawrence (1976)
Tim Conway /
Rita Moreno (1977)
Tim Conway /
Gilda Radner (1978)
Sarah Vaughan (1981)
Nell Carter /
André De Shields
André De Shields (1982)
Leontyne Price (1983)
Cloris Leachman (1984)
George Hearn (1985)
Whitney Houston (1986)
Robin Williams (1987)
Robin Williams (1988)
Linda Ronstadt (1989)
Tracey Ullman (1990)
Billy Crystal (1991)
Bette Midler (1992)
Dana Carvey (1993)
Tracey Ullman (1994)
Barbra Streisand (1995)
Tony Bennett (1996)
Bette Midler (1997)
Billy Crystal (1998)
John Leguizamo (1999)
Eddie Izzard (2000)
Barbra Streisand (2001)
Wayne Brady (2003)
Elaine Stritch (2004)
Hugh Jackman (2005)
Barry Manilow (2006)
Tony Bennett (2007)
Don Rickles (2008)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
Eddie Izzard (2000)
Eric Drysdale, Jim Earl, Dan Goor, Charlie Grandy, J. R. Havlan, Tom
Johnson, Kent Jones, Paul Mecurio, Chris Regan,
Allison Silverman and
Jon Stewart (2001)
Doug Abeles, James Anderson, Max Brooks, James Downey, Tina Fey, Hugh
Fink, Charlie Grandy, Jack Handey, Steve Higgins, Erik Kenward, Dennis
McNicholas, Lorne Michaels, Matt Murray, Paula Pell, Matt Piedmont,
Ken Scarborough, Michael Schur, Frank Sebastiano, T. Sean Shannon,
Robert Smigel, Emily Spivey, Andrew Steele and Scott Wainio (2002)
Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Eric Drysdale, J. R. Havlan, Scott
Jacobson, David Javerbaum, Tom Johnson, Ben Karlin, Rob Kutner, Chris
Regan, Jason Reich, Jason Ross and
Jon Stewart (2003)
Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Stephen Colbert, Eric
Drysdale, J. R. Havlan, Scott Jacobson, David Javerbaum, Ben Karlin,
Chris Regan, Jason Reich, Jason Ross and
Jon Stewart (2004)
Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Stephen Colbert, Eric
Drysdale, J. R. Havlan, Scott Jacobson, David Javerbaum, Ben Karlin,
Rob Kutner, Chris Regan, Jason Reich, Jason Ross and Jon Stewart
Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Rachel Axler, Kevin Bleyer, Tim Carvell,
Stephen Colbert, Eric Drysdale, J. R. Havlan, Scott Jacobson, David
Javerbaum, Ben Karlin, Rob Kutner, Sam Means, Chris Regan, Jason
Reich, Jason Ross and
Jon Stewart (2006)
Chris Albers, Jose Arroyo, Dan Cronin, Kevin Dorff, Dan Goor, Michael
Gordon, Berkley Johnson, Brian Kiley, Michael Koman, Tim Harrod, Brian
McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O'Brien, Brian Stack, Mike Sweeney and
Andrew Weinberg (2007)
Bryan Adams, Michael Brumm, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Eric
Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Peter Grosz, Peter Gwinn, Barry
Julien, Laura Krafft, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Tom Purcell, Meredith
Allison Silverman (2008)
Rory Albanese, Rachel Axler, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve
Bodow, Tim Carvell, Wyatt Cenac, J. R. Havlan, David Javerbaum,
Elliott Kalan, Rob Kutner, Josh Lieb, Sam Means, John Oliver, Jason
Jon Stewart (2009)
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