About Eddie Izzard
British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard is known for a fluid meld of playful and pointed observational humor, often embellished with surreal imagery and delivered in a stream of consciousness style. An overachiever on several fronts, she has performed standup in languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic and has run well over 100 marathons, many on consecutive days for fundraising events. After releasing her first comedy video, Live at the Ambassadors (her West End debut), in 1993, she went on to tour and record such comedy classics as the Billboard comedy chart-topping Glorious (1997) and two-time Emmy winner Dress to Kill (1998). Meanwhile appearing in films such as Velvet Goldmine (1998), Mystery Men (1999), and Ocean's Twelve (2004), she won the Drama Desk Award for acting in the 2003 Broadway production of A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. Her tenth comedy album, 2013's Force Majeure, was supported by a tour that hit 45 countries and all 50 of the United States. She was recognized with an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from Harvard in 2013. The memoir Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens saw publication in 2017. Identifying as genderfluid with a preference for feminine pronouns, she voiced Voldemort in The Lego Batman Movie in 2017 and briefly held office as a member of the Labour Party in 2018. Continuing to act, she had a starring role in the 2020 war film Six Minutes to Midnight. In 2021, Izzard stayed home in London to run 31 treadmill marathons alongside 31 standup shows in 31 days to benefit multiple charities.
Born in 1962 to an accountant and a nurse, Izzard spent her infancy in Aden Colony, later known as Aden, Yemen. They moved to Bangor, Ireland in 1963, where they stayed for four years before moving again, this time to Skewen, Wales. Izzard's mother died of cancer when she was just six, and she and her older brother were sent to boarding school quickly thereafter. Such experiences would ultimately shape her comedic persona.
When she was seven, Izzard saw a play and became interested in acting. Also drawn to the writing component of the field, she turned to comedy as a way to perform when she had trouble landing parts in school plays. In 1980, Izzard enrolled at Sheffield University for an Accounting and Financial Management with Mathematics degree, but comedy was fueling her fire. She spent the next year-and-a-half writing and acting in various university comedy shows, including a prime gig at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. By early 1984, Izzard had left college, moved to London, and was performing street shows with her friend Rob Ballard in Covent Garden.
In three years' time, Izzard was hot on the London club circuit and made her debut at London's Comedy Store. She enjoyed another boost in popularity following an appearance on a televised AIDS benefit in 1991. Izzard's debut comedy special, 1993's Live at the Ambassadors, was culled from three performances during a four-month run at the West End venue. The next year brought a lead role in David Mamet's stage drama The Cryptogram as well as second comedy special Unrepeatable. In 1995, she appeared on-stage in the title role of Marlowe's Edward II, and 1996 saw the release of Definite Article, her third standup show. It was captured at Camden's Shaftesbury Theatre. By that time, she had a few roles in TV movies and short films under her belt and made her feature-film debut in the star-studded spy thriller, The Secret Agent. Another special, Glorious, saw release in 1997. She followed its success with acting roles in Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine and the British spy flick The Avengers in 1998.
Izzard had a critical breakthrough in the U.S. with the 1998 HBO comedy special Dress to Kill, which went on to win Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program and Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Comedy Program. It included the popular "cake or death" sketch. Movie roles such as Tony P. in Mystery Men (1999) and a turn as Charlie Chaplin in Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow (2001) followed before she returned with her sixth standup special, 2002's Circle, a show that had sold out theaters across the U.S. That year also brought a DVD release of Dress to Kill to the U.S. (Anti/Epitaph), marking Izzard's first stateside video release. Another special, Sexie, arrived in 2003. The latter was recorded in her father's hometown of Eastbourne. That year, she also appeared on Broadway in Peter Nichols' A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. It resulted in a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.
In late 2004, catalog releases of Unrepeatable, Definite Article, and Glorious by Laughing Stock Records all landed in the Top Ten of Billboard's Comedy Albums chart simultaneously, with Glorious sitting in the number one spot. That year, she also had a supporting role in the Steven Soderbergh film Ocean's Twelve, returning for 2007's Ocean's Thirteen. On TV in 2007, she co-starred with Minnie Driver in the FX series The Riches. It was picked up for a second season in 2008. Izzard delivered her first comedy special in six years, Stripped (Laughing Stock), in 2009.
With little experience running and just five weeks' training, Izzard embarked on seven weeks of back-to-back marathons (with Sundays off) in July 2009, to raise funds for Comic Relief's Sport Relief fundraiser. An athletic and promotional success, she took part in similar events for charity over the coming years. The early 2011 release of her next comedy set, Live at Madison Square Garden, by Largo/Epitaph was followed by roles on TV's United States of Tara and Bullet in the Face as well as in Disney-Pixar's Cars 2, voicing Sir Miles Axelrod. In 2013, she established a recurring character on NBC's Hannibal and issued her tenth standup special, Force Majeure (Laughing Stock). That show took her to five continents and included nights in select locales with three separate shows, each in a different language (English, French, and German). The tour hit its 50th state with a 2017 appearance in Honolulu, Hawaii.
In 2017, Izzard could be heard in movie theaters as Voldemort in The Lego Batman Movie. That June, Michael Joseph (U.K.) and Blue Rider Press (U.S.) published her memoir, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens. After unsuccessful runs for a seat on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, she briefly held office in 2018 as runner-up to Christine Shawcroft, following the latter's resignation.
Izzard dubbed a character in the Netflix animated series Green Eggs and Ham in 2019 and had a supporting role in the 2020 film The High Note before appearing as a lead in that year's Six Minutes to Midnight alongside Judi Dench. In January 2021, she completed 31 marathons (on a treadmill due to the COVID-19 pandemic) in as many days while performing daily online comedy sets, raising funds for multiple charity groups. ~ Marcy Donelson
BORNFebruary 7, 1962