We took I Bought A Blue Car Today to the Orange County Performance Arts Center in Costa Mesa for two performances (OMFG, we went behind the Orange Curtain!!) and then to the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles for a week. Here I am on NBC news talking about the show
I presented another documentary for BBC4 entitled The Real Cabaret. In it I interviewed some of the people who'd been involved with the movie and original musical (Liza, John Kander, Joe Masteroff) but also went to Berlin to find out about the real cabaret artistes of the time, and what fates befell them. I also visit the actual flat Christopher Isherwood lived which was where he had the inspiration to write Goodbye to Berlin, the book that Cabaret is based on.
Riverworld is based on the series of book by Phillip Jose Farmer. I returned to Vancouver to shoot a cameo in this mini-series for my old friends at The Sci-fi Channel, RHI and Reunion Pictures. (I had previously worked on Tin Man with them).
I play the Judas Caretaker, an alien (natch), who seems as confused about what is going on in Riverworld as everyone else!! Actually he knows more than he's letting on but as the whole thing is a sort of allergory for the afterlife and reincarnation, no-one really says what they really mean. When it comes out, you'll understand.
I was asked to make a half hour documentary for the UK channel Blighty about the thing I thought was most briliiant about Britain. I chose Scottish humour, and so went on a madcap journey round my homeland interviewing people (including my mum) about what are the ingredients of Scottish humour, how we use it and how it defines us in the world. Below is the actual film that was broadcast, but first here's a little film I made with my flip video during the shoot.
I was invited to perform I Bought a Blue Car Today at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Mardi Gras Festival. I had previously played at the Opera House twenty years before with Victor and Barry!
I really enjoyed the shows here. I felt more relaxed and whereas the performances at the Lincoln Center in NYC were my concert debut, these were very definitley cabaret. The material was the same, but the atmosphere was different. I started to enjoy the interaction with the audiences and got more confident.
Whilst I was in Australia i went down to Melbourne to appear on Rove.
The Tempest is a beautiful play, Julie Taymor has a truly unique aesthetic, and Helen Mirren taking the role of Prospera (normally played by a man as Prospero) was a combination I really wanted to be a part of. I also got to work with really amazing actors like Chris Cooper and David Strathairn, and did I mention that we shot for a couple of months in Hawaii?
I play Sebastian, one of the noblemen who is shipwrecked on Prospera's isle. Julie wanted to use Hawaii because of all the lavic landscapes, and indeed it felt like we shot on practically every piece of remote lava they had. But is is a stunning backdrop to the story, and Helen playing Prospero brings a more healing, Mother Earth sensibility to the character, making the story more about reconciliation than vengeance.
Tom Conti, Ben Wishaw, Reeve Carney, Felicity Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Alfred Molina and Russell Brand completed the cast, and what a rare old time we had. We moved islands a couple of times and each time we were given a blessing ceremony by one of the locals. My favourite time was when we were doing a shot coming out of the water, so we could only do it once, and the sun was going down fast. Julie and the 1st AD's faces were hilarious as they were looking at the ebbing light and willing the blessing man to get on with it.
We were indeed blessed to be a part of The Tempest.
In June I returned to Glasgow to re-rehearse The Bacchae for the National Theatre of Scotland. I realised I had never really gone back to a theatre show before in this way. (I had done Cabaret twice but there were four years separating the two productions and none of the other cast was the same). Sometimes when something has gone so well the first time - and of course it probably has otherwise why do it again? - it is a little weird for new people to come in, and to try to rehash something.
However, what was great about doing it again was that the new people came in and instead of recreating they brought a whole new energy and approach, and it was actually really exciting to find new things in scnes that had never crossed my mind before. Also the director, John Tiffany, made lots of changes and tightened the show up and it felt like we were doing a whole new thing.
Cal Macaninch, who played Pentheus, brought a totally different tone and that made me have to think afresh. I loved it! Also I loved that we went to Aberdeen and Inverness in Scotland before bringing the show to NYC as part of the Lincoln Center festival. I had spent a lot of time in Inverness as a little boy as my Granny and many relations lived there, and I also knew people in Aberdeen too, so it was another summer of coming home. And then I got to bring it to my new home to NYC where all my friends were able to see what the fuss was about!
I did a reading of a play directed by David Brind, when he told me he was in pre-production for a movie he had written, Dare. The reading went really well, David and I got on like a house on fire and kept in touch. Over the next while, he emailed me telling me how it was going with the film preparation, in particular with the casting. There is one character of an actress who comes back to her alma mater and bitch slaps the main character played by Emmy Rossum. He had been having trouble casting it, and in one of the meetings someone said, “why don’t we make it a man, and get Alan Cumming to play it.” Everyone laughed, but then they actually did it. And I was offered the role.
So I popped down to Philadelphia for a few days and had a really great time. The script is really clever and surprising. It’s about three friends at high school, finding themselves and each other, but it’s not at all your usual right-of-passage teenage flick. I think David is a really great writer, I enjoyed working with Adam Salky, the director. And poor Emmy, who had to stand a whole day of me being so mean to her.
I went to London to promote Tin Man and spoke to this funny website called Holy Moly...
Then later in the year I was on Morning Joe
PBS asked me to be the host of their Masterpiece Mystery series. I love PBS, and since the prevous hosts include Vincent Price and Diana Rigg, I was rather honoured to be asked. Basically I come out of the shadows and introduce some British TV mystery show. I love being a host. I feel I ought to come out of the shadows with a tray of sandwiches.