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Eddie Izzard

May 2009

AS it happens, he has just passed the Post offices.
"I'm going past the Bed Centre," he rambles.
"Lime green," he adds.
It is only later that I realise he must be talking about the one on Canal Street.
"A first floor clearance is on at moment."
Will he check it out?
"No, I'm OK because picking up a bed in Nottingham dragging it around just seems a little crazy. Unless you're living in Nottingham. I'm sure most of their clientele are Nottingham based.
"I don't need one anyway at the moment."
It's late afternoon and yet on Twitter he said he was travelling here overnight.
"The traffic's a lot better. It's kind of peaceful. The motorways are like they were in the fifties. Unfortunately we found that Newport Pagnall service station... you think I'll pull in there and have sausage, egg and chips but no, they were closed and we had to have a 'punani', some sort of sandwich." (He means a panini).
I'm still a little confused as to why he's only just getting in to the city – London to Nottingham doesn't take over 12 hours – but we must move on. There's much to talk about as Eddie Izzard was in Nottingham for two reasons this week.
First was a early evening political chat with Tony Blair's former henchman Alistair Campbell at the University of Nottingham. Then a gig at the on-campus Djanogly Theatre.
"It's not the Labour Party asking me to do it. I said I'm doing this as a member of the Labour Party. I'm interested in politics and I'm active. I'm trying to put forward new ideas and create a discussion."
That was a closed show, attended by students only while the gig, which started at 10.45pm and ran past midnight, was open to all, if they a) had £20 to spare and b) heard about it quick enough to get a ticket when they went on sale a couple of weeks ago.
One assumes it's a warm-up for his Arena tour but Izzard says he's warm enough.
"It's been road tested through 34 cities in America and five weeks in London, so Nottingham's getting a really up to speed (show). I've worked a lot of it through.
"It's not really a warm-up, it's more of a taster and it's for me to have fun because I like doing them, to keep match fit and for Nottingham to get a little bit of a preview of what's coming back at the end of the year.
"This is the same show that's played Radio City Music Hall in New York, which is a 6,000- seater, for three nights."
Are the small gigs where you can see the whites of people's eyes more nerve racking?
"No, the smaller ones are just a beautiful breeze. The bigger ones, there is slightly more tension but once you've done a hundred you go 'oh, arena gigs...'" he says dismissively.
"Then you go 'ooh, stadiums."
He equates the difference to that of driving a car and a removals van.
"When I was student I used to hire Bedford vans and Luton vans and they're slower turns and you have to work at the wheelbase and stuff but still similar rules apply.
"It's like an ocean liner when you're playing arenas and a small gig's a speed boat."
He wasn't worried about the late start meaning he was playing to a room full of boisterous drunks.
"I think a Tuesday should be OK. Late night you get a slightly different feel. It's more interesting.
"Everyone's gone to bed in Nottingham but we're up. It's like staying up late to annoy your parents."
It 's been six years since his last UK tour. Why?
"I was pushing on other things," he says.
US film and television more specifically.
"It's a schizophrenic career I have. Which annoys agents because they don't quite know where to place me."
Izzard has starred in two seasons of TV drama The Riches, about a couple of con artists trying to adapt to a normal suburban life.
But his biggest role to date was playing a Nazi alongside Tom Cruise in the movie Valkyrie.
"Lots of people called Tom in that film. Tom Wilkinson, Tom Hallander..."
So, you and Mr Cruise, how was he on set, are you best buddies now, did you call him today to see what he was up to...?
"It's not quite that relationships. We don't really drive around in fast cars chasing each other.
"He was very gentlemanly, very welcoming.
"There was a certain distance. he had his family and his security but my dad came over and my brother and he made them feel welcome. That was a great thing to do.
"You just go in and try to do your job. It was tricky for me because the first day was a six-page scene. They're normally about a page. And it was just me and him all on one day."
That was a tough way to start."
He adds: "It was his film. He really did shepherd that movie. Because there was talk in the press that the Germans didn't want certain things filmed. It's the first time German kids can watch Germans trying to kill Hitler.
"It's a big old success and a great film. I've watched it about five times."
He recently finished filming the BBC's new incarnation of sci-fi classic Day Of The Triffids, with Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox.
And he'll be reprising his role as Reepicheep is The Chronicles of Narnia sequel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Aside from the acting and the comedy (his live tour may be called Stripped but it's less about nudity and more about, well, everything: "I start from 4,500 million years ago and take it up to Tuesday"), Eddie Izzard has also supplied a voice for a sat nav. Instructions include: "bear left, monkey right".
Has he ever used it?
"Ohhh noooo... interesting," he ponders. "I haven't but that would be fun to do.
"Or weird."

Eddie Izzard, Trent FM Arena, Friday and Saturday October 23 and 24, £30, 08444 124624.

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