Comedian, actor and marathon man Eddie Izzard believes the death of his mother, years at boarding school and ‘coming out’ as transgender have toughened him up. Hannah Stephenson catches up with the star and discovers his next challenge might just be the biggest…
Fifty-five-year-old Eddie Izzard is a tough character but you can understand why when you look at his past. The son of BP’s chief accountant Harold Izzard, his mother Dorothy Ella died from bowel cancer when he was six, a year after the family returned to Britain from the north, but his parents didn’t tell him she was dying and he wasn’t prepared for the emotional loss.
Soon after, he and his older brother Mark were sent to boarding school, another traumatic event which led to him battening the hatches emotionally, as detailed in a chapter he entitles ‘Exile‘.
“We didn’t see Dad for two thirds of the year. I did a lot of crying and wailing. I was unhappy about everything and feeling sorry for myself. I cried till I was 11,” he recalls.
“Boarding school toughens you up. It can make you emotionally dead because you are emotionally blocked, but you are tough. You can’t empathise or sympathise.”
He didn’t cry again until he was 19, when a cat was run over in the road in front of him. He picked it up and, realising that he needed to feel something, forced himself to cry.
“I ripped open those pathways to ensure I knew how to cry. I knew it was bad not feeling anything.”