Broadway Bares is a yearly institution when the theater community in NYC gets down and dirty and raises a ton of cash for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It is one of the most fun things ever, both to watch and to be in.
This was my first year and I was not quite sure to expect, but they eased me in gently...
On a break from Titus, I shot a cameo in Urbania by Jon Shear. I played Brett, a man dying from AIDS, who is visited by Dan Futterman's character in the midst of his personal odyssey.
I am so happy this film did so well. It is a really stylish and moving story. I loved my scene, and think Jon is a great director.
The film premiered at Sundance 2000.
I reprised his role of The Emcee in the Broadway production, with Natasha Richardson playing opposite me as Sally Bowles, and Sam Mendes was joined by Rob Marshall as co-director and choreographer.
The production was a huge success, and I won the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Theatre World, FANY, New York Press and New York Public Advocate's Awards for my performance. Not bad, huh?!
Well, what can I say about this? It changed my life. Somehow or other, the show and my character entered the zeitgeist of American culture, and nothing will ever be the same again! It was completely overwhelming - I had no idea what success on Broadway was like, and I had the time of my life. The first night I was so tense because I felt that everything was going to change and it did. I remember being so stressed out because I got sent so many presents and things and my dressing room was so tiny. I didn't think I was going to be able to get ready because there was no room. The stairs backstage too were all lined with everybody's gifts. It was excessive. I got really upset and had a little cry with Ron Rifkin. I was so stressed out because of the weight of responsibility I felt for what was about to happen, and so I went next door and had a really good cry with Ron Rifkin. And also on my last day, it was a lovely thing. All the friends I'd made in New York were there to share it with me. I remember trying to start the show and walking out on stage and people wouldn't stop clapping. I thought, My god, I'm going to be standing here with the band vamping for hours. Afterwards there were hundreds of people outside the stagedoor waiting to say cheerio to me. It was so moving. I'll never forget it.
The production opened at the Kit Kat Klub (formerly the Henry Miller Theatre) in March 1998 and I performed until September, when I left to shoot the movie Titus in Rome. I then returned to the show in December at its new home, Studio 54. I left the show for good in June 1999. Cabaret finally closed on Broadway in January 2004.
I went on Light Lunch and 5's Company to talk about the Spice Girls movie, amongst other things, then here I am on Mariella Frostrup's show to promote Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
Next, I popped over the Irish Sea to Belfast to appear on Kenny Live, then I gave a gong to the lovely Judi Dench at the Scottish BAFTAs and rounded up the year with an appearance on This Morning, which showed a clip of Forbes Masson and I guesting on the show in 1995 as our flight attendants from The High Life.
Finally a short-lived MTV talk show Oddville.
I was really lucky to get the small but perfectly formed role of the hotel desk clerk in Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick's last film.
Working with Stanley was a thrilling and surprising experience. Everyone talked about him being this scary, dictatorial sort of person, but I just found him to be one of the most warm, funny, interesting and interested people I had ever met. I felt so comfortable with him and I think that shows in the film. I really let loose with this character and he just encouraged me to go, and to try out new stuff. It was really great to pay so much attention to the nuances of a scene which, on an ordinary film, would have been shot in a day or less. (We took a week to do this scene!)
Tom Cruise was also lovely, so the whole thing is a very special memory for me. Especially because I went into it thinking it was going to be the opposite. And also now that Stanley has gone, I feel so honoured to have worked with someone who has revolutionized the art of film.
Here I am talking about my first meeting with Stanley....
And here is the scene....
and then me talking on BBC's Film 99 about being on the set...
Spice World, the paean to Sporty, Posh, Baby, Scary and Ginger was shot in and around London, and directed by Bob Spiers. I was part of a star-studded cast which included Richard E Grant, Roger Moore, Elton John, Barry Humphries, Jason Flemyng amongst others.
I played Piers Cuthbertson-Smythe, a documentary filmmaker trying to find the kernel of the nut that was the Spice Girls. I had the best fun. I got to be in London for a whole summer, and go to work every day with these really great girls who just happened to be the most famous people in the world at that time. It was hilarious and bizarre and I loved it. And best of all I made a friend of Geri, who is just a darling girl. And I learned all the Spice Girls' dances from the Spice Girls themselves.
I really like this film. It doesn't take itself too seriously and is actually very witty.
And then here's a bit of a behind the scenes film...
Jake Scott directed the highwayman romp, Plunkett and Macleane, in which I played Lord Rochester, a bisexual dandy based on a real person from the 18th century. Robert Carlyle (who was a year below mw at the RSAMD) and Jonny Lee Miller played the two highwaymen, and the other cast members included Liv Tyler, Michael Gambon and Ken Stott.
We shot this in Prague in the winter, and I remember being so cold that I cried and smudged my make-up!! I also remember having to wear old lady headscarves to protect my wig from the rain which I did not like at all. Rochester was one of those parts where I just had fun, and no excess was too much it seemed.
It's one of those films that didn't do terribly well when it camew out but which has a really devoted following. I think Jake Scott did a great job and had a really interesting and exciting take on what is, let's fact it, a pretty tried and tested story. So bravo to him!
I hosted the Raspberry Ripple awards which set out to praise positive portrayals of disabled people in the media, and to highlight the statistic that 1 in 8 people are in some way disabled.
I went to Budapest, Hungary immediatley after wrapping Buddy to shoot For My Baby. This was a really intense experience in every way. I played Daniel Ogelbrand, an Austrian-Jewish stand-up comedian whose parents are Holocaust survivors and whose sister was killed in the a concentration camp during the war. Juliet Aubrey played my girlfiend from America who I get pregnant and who we begin to discover has a horrible family connection to my sister. Oh yes, I forgot the bit about me dressing up in women's clothing each week and pretending to be my sister when I go to visit my mother who is confined to a hospital bed.
The film was directed by Rudolf Van Den Berg, who I'd previously almost worked with on a film based on the Orestia which I was going to do with Fiona Shaw in Tunisia, but at the last minute the money fell out and it never happened. Rudolf was as intense as the script, but I really enjoyed the experience of going to dark and unchartered waters with him.
The film was released in Europe, but in America its title was changed to Goodnight Vienna for its video release. It was shot in Budapest, Hungary. Lots of really weird things happened to me personally during shooting which I suppose only added to the air of hysteria and anxiety that Daniel has in the story. Also I was staying in a hotel in Budapest which had been Nazi HQ during the war, so that was strange too.
Caroline Thompson, who I had previously worked with on Black Beauty, wrote and directed Buddy - a film about a New York socialite in the 1920s whose menagerie of animals expanded to include a baby gorilla, Buddy.
Rene Russo was the leading lady and I played her assistant, Dick Kroener. I just loved making this film. My character looked after the chimps in the story, and so I spent every day for a few months cuddling chimps. I was like their nanny for the summer. It was such an amazing thing to do. By the time the film finished they were grooming me and playing with me in ways that they only do with other chimps. I was very honoured. One chimp in particular called Tonka became really attached to me. I loved him. It was horrible when I had to go, trying to explain to him that I wouldn't see him for a long time. But I have two pictures that he painted in my possesion.
I later saw him in the Babe sequel playing a girl. Showbiz, baby.