NY Mirror

Rupert Everett isn't the title character in The Importance of Being Earnest—he's the friend—and it's really pip-pip-alicious to find out that he isn't that earnest in person either. At a reception at Calliope, the charm-drenched actor told me his character is "a dishonest sponge, cad, thief, and liar." A real stretch, right? Fortunately, Rupert laughed at that rather than punch me out, I think because at least I wasn't pummeling him with gay questions. (He used to be more Frank, I mean frank, about the queer stuff, but he never counted on being Hollywood's ultimate homo, so now he leaves the room when that's your main tack.) All righty, then, which other queen was fiercer—Oscar Wilde or Noël Coward? Wilde, he said, because "he had a real angle, before Freud, on duplicities, on the contradiction between the surface and the interior. He drew a lot from how the English upper classes are so dishonest." But their phoniness doesn't make Rupert want to vomit, he said, because "it's no phonier than anyone else's phoniness." "How true!" I chirped, all phony and shit.

But we both suddenly became alarmingly sincere when discussing animated films—don't ask—with Rupert declaring, "My emotional life stopped with Bambi, when the mother died. Also with Jungle Book, when Baloo yelled, 'Come back!' and the little slut is singing, 'I must go to fetch the water.' Mowgli's going to leave the animal kingdom forever!" I thought the bloke might break down sobbing, so we segued on to half-animated films, and Rupie declared, "Pete's Dragon and Bedknobs and Broomsticks are no classics, but Mary Poppins is a perfect film!" With that, I left him, all glazed over with happiness. Besides, I had to go to fetch the water.

But I'll leave the room, I swear, unless I can bring up something très gay right this minute! Did you notice that even Spider-Man, about an oppressed kid who develops special powers and fights back, throws in a gratuitous pinch of homophobia? When Tobey Maguire is about to kick a wrestler's ass, he unnecessarily quips, "That's a cute outfit. Did your husband give it to you?" (Asked about the remark at a junket, Maguire said they were desperate for a line there and everyone on the set was offering suggestions. That one got the biggest laugh, so they used it—but now he realizes maybe it wasn't the greatest idea.)

"I'm starting to think maybe it's me that's a little odd": actress Clea DuVall, star of Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.
photo: Richard Mitchell
"I'm starting to think maybe it's me that's a little odd": actress Clea DuVall, star of Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.

Spider-Man was even in the air at the Film Society of Lincoln Center tribute to Francis Ford Coppola, where the director said it's great that some movies can make over $100 million in a weekend, but "there's a lot more that the cinema was put here to do." (And I don't think he meant make $200 million.) The event could have fallen into the gooey trap inherent in having a helmsman toasted by actors who want to keep working for him. But the praise-heaping thesps weren't lying, and the clips proved Coppola to indeed be a man of vision, blah blah blah, with so much precision and sweep that even his stinkers—The Rain People, The Cotton Club—were starting to look good. (Maybe someone should serve up another peep at Pete's Dragon.) Among the speakers, sister Talia Shire made it clear how close my kinship is with Coppola. ("Francis is the first to be the first. He starts the trends," she said, adding that "as a child, he put himself in a box and wrapped himself in tin foil." Me too!) And Al Pacino was great, bravely admitting, "I didn't want to do The Godfather!"

More honors? At the Lucille Lortel Awards for Off-Broadway, sour grapes made for fizzy champagne when presenter Illeana Douglas said, "We're surviving Surviving Grace despite what [Times critic] Bruce Weber said. . . . Who is Bruce Weber anyway? I work in film too, Bruce. Ha ha ha."

More disgruntlement? Someone on the set of Six Feet Under insists that Rachel Griffiths is a bit of a diva and is rather unpopular with a lot of the cast and crew. She may be brilliant and nab awards, but some of her co-workers simply don't like her—though the one time I met Griffiths, I found her daft but winning.

Meanwhile, a certain talk-show host is adored by millions, but some folks on his set call him "the king of flatulence" and, even more damningly, "a pompous ass." Still, he does have a real angle on the contradiction between the surface and the interior.

Moving right along with whatever dignity I have left, Clea DuVall is a well-liked actress who shines in her niche of playing sympathetic oddballs and fringe characters. In The Faculty, they thought she was a lesbian, but she wasn't. In But I'm a Cheerleader, they thought she was a lesbian, and she was. And now, in Thirteen Conversations About One Thing—an arty, capital-M Meditation on fate versus chance versus choice—24-year-old Clea sings in a choir, almost drowns, is hit by Matthew McConaughey's car, and treasures a doll head. Over coffee at Essex House last week, the California actress told me, "I'm starting to think maybe it's me that's a little odd. I'm definitely attracted to characters that aren't the norm, that aren't girls you see every day."

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