“It’s a loving relationship, and everyone was trying to stop it. We’ve got to let love work because that’s the only thing that’s going to keep the planet together,” says Eddie Izzard in our exclusive video chat to discuss his new film “Victoria and Abdul” (watch the exclusive video above). The film tells the story of Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her controversial friendship with an Indian clerk, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), who became her close friend and confidante in the twilight of her life.
Izzard himself advocates for love across cultural boundaries, but in the film he actually plays one of Abdul’s greatest adversaries: Victoria’s jealous son Bertie, who went on to become King Edward VII and did his best to erase Karim from history, though diaries eventually surfaced in the 21st century revealing the extent of his relationship with Victoria. “I’m a big history nut,” Izzard reveals, but “this story I had no idea about.”
Despite the cruelty of Bertie’s behavior Izzard was able to find compassion for him. He explains, “He was brought up badly by his mother, a very distant relationship.” As the crown prince he grew up isolated from the world, and on top of that Victoria blamed him for her husband Prince Albert‘s death, so “you understand why he’s completely off the rails, basically shagging his way across Europe, having chairs built for sex, having mistresses installed in different buildings.”
Perhaps Bertie needed love and affection as much as his mother did. The film “shows quite clearly that for all the layers of bullshit of class and monarchy and aristocracy on this side and then the caste system that exists in India … we’re just human beings. Everyone’s a human being, and everyone can love anyone else.” Considering modern crises like Donald Trump‘s presidency in America, Brexit in the UK, and threats of violence against North Korea, Izzard believes “this is a key century. In the 21st century we make it work for all seven billion people on this planet, or I don’t think we’re going to make it.”
Love, quite literally, will keep us together, or else we might all fall apart.
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