A wickedly debonair blend of Cary Grant and Joan Crawford, British actor Rupert Everett almost single-handedly conquered Hollywood with his turn as the man who dances off into the sunset with Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding. As the handsome, elegant, and gay George, Everett (who had been openly gay for some years) ushered in a different kind of gay sensibility in Hollywood, one that, rather than begging audiences for acceptance, flatly told them to get over it.
Born in Norfolk, England, to a wealthy family on May 29, 1959, Everett was sent away for schooling at the age of seven. Taught by Benedictine monks at Amplesforth College, he was a good student and trained to be a classical pianist. After he discovered acting at the age of 15, he dropped out of school and ran off to London, where he supported himself as a prostitute for a couple of years (something he admitted in a 1997 interview with US magazine) and eventually enrolled at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Unfortunately, Everett clashed frequently with instructors and eventually dropped out, choosing to flee to Scotland. It was there that he got his first professional job as an apprentice with the Citizen's Theatre of Glasgow, and in the early '80s, his career began to bud. In 1982, he created the role of Guy Bennett for the West End production of Another Country, which also featured a very young Kenneth Branagh. Everett won raves for his portrayal of the younger version of real-life spy Guy Burgess, and in 1984 re-created the role for the play's film version. The following year, he starred with Miranda Richardson in Dance With a Stranger, turning in a strong performance in the critically acclaimed film. Although it seemed Everett's career was on the rise, the actor unfortunately opted for near-nonentity status with his 1987 U.S. film debut in Hearts of Fire, a rock & roll drama co-starring Bob Dylan. Following this flop, Everett disappeared for a while, taking up residence in Paris and writing a semi-autobiographical novel, Hello, Darling, Are You Working?.
In 1991, Everett resurfaced with a lead role in The Comfort of Strangers opposite Natasha Richardson before appearing in 1993's Inside Monkey Zetterland, a film featuring a bizarre title, large ensemble cast (which included Patricia Arquette and Sandra Bernhard), and miserable reviews. Everett's subsequent feature, Prêt-à-Porter (1994), also featured an unconventional title, a large ensemble cast (including Julia Roberts, Sophia Loren, Stephen Rea, and Tim Robbins), and miserable reviews, but in its favor, it also featured a director named Robert Altman. Furthermore, Everett actually managed to make a favorable impression as a philandering fashion house scion, favor that was magnified, during the same year, with his hilarious turn as the fat and lazy Prince of Wales in Nicholas Hytner's The Madness of King George. However, for all of the positive attention he received, Everett incurred only bafflement with his next two films, the Italian schlock-fest Dellamorte, Dellamore (1994) and Dunston Checks In (1996), in which the actor starred with Faye Dunaway and an orangutan.
1997 marked the turning point in Everett's career, as it brought with it his star-making role in My Best Friend's Wedding. The actor caused something of a sensation among male and female filmgoers alike, who wanted more of the handsome actor with the languorous wit. They got more of him the following year, in Shakespeare in Love, in which Everett had a supporting role as playwright Christopher Marlowe, and in B. Monkey, in which he played Jonathan Rhys Meyers' criminal lover. 1999 proved to be a very fruitful year for the actor -- who by this time was being hailed as Hollywood's Gay Prince -- as it featured the actor in leading roles in three films. He first played Oberon in Michael Hoffman's A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which he was part of an all-star cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Kline, Christian Bale, and Calista Flockhart. Next came Oliver Parker's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, for which Everett netted positive reviews in his central role as the delightfully idle Lord Goring. Finally, he camped and vamped it up as the resident villain of Inspector Gadget, once again demonstrating to audiences why it could feel so good to be so bad.