I recorded the audiobook of Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl
Dear President Bush:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination... End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.
1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?
7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
Sweet Land is the story of a young German woman who is sent from Scandinavia to Minnesota in 1920 as a mail order bride. The film flashes forward to the present to throw light on the love story from the past.
It was directed by my friend Ali Selim and also stars Tim Guinee, Elizabeth Reiser, Alex Kingston, Ned Beatty and Lois Smith. I love this film. I love its pace and its heart. I love that it is undefinable. It is a simple tale about love and home, something everyone can relate to, but it is also a sweeping big story about a side of America we rarely see, especially in a low-budget independent film.
I also get to play a Minnesotan farmer with nine children. That was a first!
The film was shot in Minnesota in 2004 and premiered at the Hamptons Film Festival in October 2005, going on to be screened at many film festivals across America and Europe, before being released in the US in 2006. I was one of the producers of the film, and we won a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Best first feature. The film was included in Leonard Maltin's 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen.
Neverwas was a really great script written and directed by Josh Stern. It's the story of Zach (played by Aaron Eckhart), a young doctor who gets a job at the mental hospital where his father was once a patient. There he meets Gabriel, played by Ian McKellen, a patient at the hospital who has a mysterious knowledge of Josh and his past. The film also stars Jessica Lange, Brittany Murphy, Nick Nolte, William Hurt and Vera Farmiga.
I played a small role, one of the patients in the mental hospital. Here I am impersonating a 70s porn star at theNeverwas world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival
Bad Blood is a short film directed by my friend from Vancouver, Kyle Leydier, and he adapted it from a chapter of the novel Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh.
The film premiered at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. We shot it in Vancouver in 2004, around the time I was there to shoot Neverwas, and it also features myEighteen co-star Paul Anthony.
Bad Blood is a really dark look at revenge and pain and disease. I like it.
I went to the Democratic National Convention in Boston as a delegate for The Creative Coalition. It was a really fascinating thing for me, especially being Scottish and not totally au fait with the way American politics operate. We went to the convention center each night and heard the speeches, and the days were filled with talks and meetings with various organizations and politicians.
I had to take part in a really scary event: Art$, Education and the 21st Century Economy--a panel discussion in which I sat between Arianna Huffington and Bill O'Reilly. As you can imagine, Bill O'Reilly did what he was there to do and trotted out some really contentious statements. Most people were used to him, but I had never really watched (or wanted to) his show so I was utterly horrified and at one point, when he suggested that someone on the panel wanted to teach terrorists how to sing (or something equally ridiculous), I told him he was insane.
I still think he is.
The highlight of this week was, of course, hearing Barack Obama speak for the first time. He lit up the room.
After shooting Reefer Madness, I stayed on in Canada to shoot a small role in Eighteen, a film written and directed by Richard Bell, who I'd first met when I was shooting Josie and the Pussycats in Vancouver in 2000.
Eighteen is Richard's first feature-length movie, and is about a young boy of 18, Pip (played by the wonderful Paul Anthony), who is given for his birthday a tape from his dead grandfather telling him what his grandfather went through in when he was 18. The film flashes between the present and the trenches of World War Two.
I play Father Chris, a priest who befriends Pip.
In October of 2004 I was asked to take part in an art installation by Vancouver artist Fiona Bowie. Slip/Host features a pair of continuous 360 degree panoramic settings. These settings incorporate time-synched video to produce an enveloping dramatic narrative. These parallel installations are set as parallel universes... one cartoon-like, the other an industrial park. I play a different character in each realm: the Gargantuan Head and the Sedentary Manufacturer.
I finally saw the piece in 2007 when it had its premiere at a gallery in Vancouver and I was back there shooting Tin Man. I loved it.
Reefer Madness is a movie musical based on a musical based on the 1936 propaganda film!
I had seen the original movie a long time ago and didn't remember too much about it (I wonder why?!), but I did remember it being hilarious. I also remember thinking how alarming it was that people would go to such lengths to demonize and misrepresent something (in this case pot). This is what Dan Studney and Kevin Murphy highlighted so cleverly in their musical - the way we are ruled by fear, and how it is in our governments' interests to keep us in this state.
The film is an absolute hoot and we had a blast making it. It was great to be able to sing again, and also act with such an amazing group of performers: Christian Campbell, Kristen Bell, Ana Gasteyer, Steven Weber, Amy Spanger, Neve Campbell, Bob Torti and John Kassir, and a hilarious director, Andy Fickman.
I play the lecturer who come to the town to warn the parents of the evils of marijuana, but then in the film within a film parts I take on lots of different disguises including President Franklin Roosevelt and Goat Man!!
Reefer Madness premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 27th January 2005 - my 40th birthday! I know it sounds like a great thing to have a film premiere on your birthday, but actually having an entire audience sing me happy birthday and then having the after-party come to a halt whilst a massive marijuana leaf-shaped cake was wheeled towards me followed by a phalanx of photographers was really very embarrassing!
The film was then shown on Showtime, who incidentally supported it from its early incarnation onstage in LA and were really amazing to work with, especially considering they were funding a political satire about a propaganda film about drugs!
I was asked to host Out on the Edge, a special for Comedy Central that was an attempt to showcase a more edgy, queer brand of comedian and performer, and I was really excited to do a bit of stand up comedy again.
Craig Chester worked with me on my material, and I blame him for encouraging me to talk about my foreskin on national television at such length (as it were) again.
For the last of my talk shows for Oxygen, Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming, I took Julianne Moore to Dumbo in Brooklyn to make chocolate at Jacques Torres' chocolate store.
Graham Norton, Conan O'Brien and the lovely Vicki Gaberau.
I wrote the the foreword to Andy Warhol Men, a book which contains hundreds of rarely seen illustrations, paintings, drawings, silk screens and photographs of men, and their various body parts, by Andy Warhol. The book was published in late 2004. If you'd like to purchase a copy, visit Chronicle Books here.
Here's what I wrote...
Andy Warhol Men Introduction by Alan Cumming.
I have always maintained that the mark of a great artist is their ability to draw a good bum - a bum that stirs our loins, be we man or woman, attracted or repelled by the idea of a real, naked, honest to goodness bum in such close proximity to us.
But a great, great artist, I have realized, is one who can evoke such a bum and cause such stirring in a line drawing only. No rococo shading and texture, or Botticelliesque nonsense, just a simple collection of lines on paper that magically produce a sense memory of something so visceral it can actually arouse.
Aubrey Beardsley could do it. Picasso could do it. Cocteau could do it. And Andy Warhol can do it.
Leafing through the pages of this book was a revelation for me. I knew Andy was a genius of that curious and now much-copied fusion of art, pop culture, celebrity and kitsch, but – and I am feeling like my mother even writing this – I hadn’t ever realized he was so good at drawing.
I have already cited my criteria for greatness in this area, so let me just say that Andy Warhol is truly great: he can do brilliant bums.
Whether it is his longing for them, or indeed the sheer volume that passed so close to his dark-glassed eyes that makes his reproduction of them so evocative I know not. All I know is they float my boat.
But this book is not just a celebration of the anus. It takes a more holistic view of man seen through the Warhol prism.
His male nude photographs are at once intimate and raw, the subjects’ faces rarely seen. Of course, that makes it easier for the focus to stay with what Andy wants us to concentrate on: the member, the pudendum, the cock.
(I feel it is my duty to warn you there are a lot of cocks in this book, and whether you are a fan of them or not, you must agree Andy shot some quite nice ones.)
But just as he became famous for pointing out the beauty and weirdness of material objects we had previously thought mundane, here we have a collection where Andy can fascinate and mesmerize us with not just the beauty and weirdness of that absurd muscle we boys all have in our underwear, but the faces the owners of those muscles choose to project to the world.
The series of pictures of drag queens is so endearing - partly because it differs from the slightly detached, objectifying feel of most of Warhol’s photography - and we share the joy these boys feel at having someone simply take an interest in them.
Desire is big in this volume: Andy’s for the men he shoots and draws, the men’s to please him.
But an even bigger emotion is joy, Andy’s that is. He obviously loved men. And like his pictures of soup cans and brillo pads he forces us to reconsider that men, and all their essences, are pretty extraordinary.
This is a fascinating collection from a man who understood the value of capturing the everyday for tomorrow. How lucky we are. Enjoy!
I co-produced and appear in Showbusiness, which premiered at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in 2007 by Regency Pictures.
Showbusiness is directed by my friend Dori Berinstein who I previously worked with when she served on the board of The Art Party, and also when she directed me in Eavesdropping with Alan Cumming for the Oxygen network. The film follows a year in the life of Broadway, focusing on the personalities involved in four shows - Caroline or Change, Avenue Q, Wicked and Taboo.
Find out more at showbusiness-themovie.com
Son of the Mask is a follow-up to The Mask (1994). I shot this movie in Sydney, Australia from November 2003 until March 2004. I played Loki, the God of Mischief (natch), who is on a quest to get his precious mask back from the hapless Tim (Jamie Kennedy) and Tonya (Traylor Howard). He does this by taking on lots of disguises. There's also an uber-cute baby and a dog! What's not to like? Son of the Mask is directed by Larry Gutterman and was released by New Line Pictures.
This was a really long film and full of effects, but even though it was sometimes incredibly technical I sort of went into a zen place and didn't really engage with it all and just tried to remain in character and pretend it was a normal film! Of course getting to swish around in a leather coat makes me happy any of the day of the week, and this was also the first of two films I did back to back (the other being Reefer Madness) in which my character goes into loads of disguises, so it was always fun to look forward to my next crazy creation. And filming in Sydney was really amazing - a beautiful city and a funny, down to earth crew.