Passable Timepass

Red Carpets & Other Banana Skins
Rupert Everett
Little Brown

Let me start with a confession: I don’t really understand the attraction of film-star biographies. Okay, I can sympathise with someone at an airport or hotel bookstore looking for a quick mindless read, and not really in the mood for fiction.

In that case, biographies of famous people are the perfect pulp non-fiction, to coin a phrase. But even then, you would want the book to be about a major blockbuster star, the bigger the star, the more controversial, the better.

That’s the whole point. The risque vicariousness of peeking into a highflying glam lifestyle. The spiralling obstacle-strewn roadway to success. The accumulation of considerable wealth, fame, power, property.

But explain to me, if you will, the point of picking up an autobiography of an actor who’s neither very famous, rich, powerful, controversial, or hugely successful?

It would have to be a very small bookstore and a very late flight before I would pick up something like this book, the autobiography of Rupert Everett.

Everett’s a charming personality. He was nice in almost every one of his movies, including his biggest b-o hit, My Best Friend’s Wedding.

He’s British, unselfconsciously gay, and has those perfect Hugh Grantish classical good looks and English charm. He even writes quite nicely, with the British ability to make even a fairly boring life seem readable.

Unfortunately, it is a rather boring life. And that somewhat defeats the purpose of an autobiography. Add to that the fact that Everett has never really done anything particularly notable or controversial and you have a book that’s every bit as charming, pleasant, and quietly sophisticated as its author. In short, a complete bore.

To be fair, Everett seems to realise this. There’s no sense of pretentious posturing that makes similar books by similarly ‘who’s-he’ actors get so tedious.

You never actually feel like throwing the book against the far wall of the room as famous director Stanley Kubrick used to do when he didn’t like a script or novel (when the sound of books and scripts being thrown against the wall finally stopped, that’s when Kubrick’s secretary would know that he had finally found one that he liked—and no, this anecdote isn’t in Everett’s autobiography).

So he does the next best thing: he peeks over the shoulders of other bigger movie stars, acting as your guide into the lives of the other richer and more famous people he’s had the good fortune of brushing shoulders (and lips and hips) with at different times.

There are some low key anecdotes about Madonna, Hugh Grant, and a number of other Hollywood stars and power players. Nothing worth quoting in a review, or even worth recalling once you shut the book.

But if you get off on that kind of thing, it’s passable timepass, I guess.

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