An enormously popular British comedian known as much for his transvestitism as he is for his excoriating social observations, Eddie Izzard is one of the most gleefully unpredictable -- to say nothing of contradictory -- performers to have sabotaged the stage and screen during the late 20th century.
Born in Yemen on February 7, 1962, Izzard grew up in Wales and Northern Ireland. Following his mother's death when he was six, Izzard found some degree of solace in comedy, particularly the works of Monty Python, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, and the early Benny Hill. He began doing stand-up at college and, after being ingloriously kicked out of school, he took his act to the streets. Izzard refined his material -- which largely revolved around personal experiences, politics, and social issues -- over the next decade, and in the early '90s, he finally began earning some measure of recognition. His stand-up work brought him British Comedy Awards in 1993 and 1996, and with popular and critical approval thus in hand, Izzard began appearing in films.
Izzard's supporting roles in The Avengers and Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine (both 1998) were concurrent with his first internationally acclaimed tour, Dress to Kill. The tour helped to establish him on both sides of the Atlantic, allowing the comedian to begin the new century on an exceptionally positive note. 2000 saw him co-starring in Shadow of the Vampire, a fictional depiction of the filming of the 1922 Nosferatu; the film's cast also included John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, and Stephen Fry.
Izzard continued his highly successful stand-up appearances while maintaining a presence in movies. He played Charlie Chaplin in Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow, attempted to steal a couple of scenes from the crew in Ocean's Twelve, appeared in Ivan Reitman's My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and offered his vocal talents to the animated film The Wild.
In 2007 he appeared as Mr. Kite in Julie Taymor's Across the Universe. The next year he voiced one of the main characters in the animated film Igor and appeared in the historical thriller Valkyrie. He went on to do two more comedy concert films before voicing the entrepreneur Miles Axlerod in Pixar's Cars 2. In 2012 he appeared in Snow White and the Huntsman.