Famed for his brooding disposition and stormy relationships, Rupert Everett has made as many enemies as friends in a career spanning two decades. But rarely has the actor poured as much indignation on so many colleagues in the film industry as he does in an interview published in The Independent Magazine today.
Speaking ahead of the release of his latest film, St Trinian's, in which he plays the headmistress of the eponymous school, Everett scorns a culture that he feels is undermining the best traditions of stage and screen. Film fans are being fed vast quantities of junk, he argues, rendering intelligent judgement and honest criticism all but impossible and "devaluing the currency" of good acting.
Everett has spoken of having sexual relations with men and women, although he maintains that he is gay. In today's interview, he attacks tinsel town's "homophobic" instincts, its shallow cult of "celebrity nonsense," and the "terribly promiscuous" tendencies of modern film.
But he saves his most brutal criticisms for some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. "De Niro, Redford, Keaton, Allen, Pacino ... They're all just tragic parodies of themselves," he says. "Al Pacino looks like a mad old freak now. I say give it a rest, or go and do some serious stuff."
Everett, who was born and brought up with his brother and maternal grandmother in Norfolk, was asked to leave his prep school for "being difficult," expelled from drama school more than a decade later for "insubordination" and claims his time at boarding school in the interim "calcified my heart". It seems old habits die hard. Conformity and Everett are not natural bedfellows.
"Our world is terribly promiscuous," he says. "The other day I saw a film called Because I Said So with Diane Keaton, and I thought, 'here's one of the women we loved most in 1970s cinema, debasing and humiliating herself in this load of trash'.
"Why? Because we're sheep, we just follow the herd ... It's just part of the huge amount of product that's put out now that's really bad. And it's our fault. We're all responsible for how the culture is. You can't draw a distinction between the celebrity nonsense on television and the film industry."
But he reserves his greatest fury for an unlikely object of hatred. "[George] Clooney thinks that, provided he does films which are politically committed, he's allowed to do Ocean's 11, 12, and 13", he says. "But the Ocean's movies are a cancer to world culture. They're destroying us."
And Clooney the man? "He's not the brightest spark on the boulevard. He'll be president one day. Mark my words, if he's straight, he'll be president."
Everett's Hollywood breakthrough came when he co-starred with Julia Roberts in the 1997 film My Best Friend's Wedding, playing her gay friend. Since then he has starred in several successful films for cinema and television, including Oliver Parker's The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) and the title role in Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004).
Inspired by Oscar Wilde, who "pretty well invented the word 'homosexual,'" Everett says he is writing a screenplay of a film about the playwright and poet. He condemns The Judas Kiss, a play by David Hare documenting Wilde's infamous trial, on the grounds that Hare and the director, Richard Eyre, are not qualified to portray Wilde.
Everett insists: "I love David and I love Richard ... but not for that play." He adds: "Those people should never ever have thought about attacking the Oscar Wilde story, because they have no sympathy, or sensitivity, or sensibility. They're rigorously straight, the two of them. They cast Liam Neeson as Oscar Wilde. Why? Because he's big and Irish!"