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Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins: The Autobiography    by Rupert Everett order for
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins
by Rupert Everett
Order:  USA  Can
Hachette Audio, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Rupert Everett narrates his own story with wit, style, and self-deprecating humor in this (abridged) 4-CD audiobook version of Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. He shares what it was like growing up in an upper class English family - nanny and all - in Essex, and describes that moment of recognition and discovery when he saw his first film, the magical Mary Poppins, the fateful day when 'a giant and deranged ego had been born' (later in life, Everett worked on stage with Julie Andrews, the fulfillment of a dream).

Everett talks about his mishaps at the Hunt (fox hunt that is), and how it felt being blooded, surrounded by 'hunters who were all smiling at me benignly like the devil worshippers in Rosemary's Baby'. He shares experiences at Catholic boarding school, an early role as Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream that transformed him into a 'stage monster', and the influence of his English teacher, 'who nudged and cajolled me to be myself' and taught 'a healthy disrespect for everything'. He moved to London, where he enjoyed 'late night love trysts' and was eventually thrown out of drama school.

After a happy time working with the Citizen's Theatre in Glasgow, Everett won the leading role in the London West End play, Another Country, doing eight shows a week. Then came a 1983 role in The Far Pavilions, filmed in Jaipur, India, followed by Dance with a Stranger. After that, he moved to the celebrity world of Hollywood, where he describes the impact of first meeting Madonna, who 'oozed sez and demanded a sexual response from everyone', no matter their sexual orientation. He describes time discovering the gay scene in South Beach, Miami staying at the Raleigh in the mid-80s, when 'queens with AIDS began to migrate south'.

He continues to discuss roles in various films including My Best Friend's Wedding, with superstar Julia Roberts. But the vignette I enjoyed most in the entire audiobook was of a first - and totally disastrous dinner party, with Madonna as one of the guests. The fire smoked, the surrounding landscape disintegrated, the guests didn't talk to each other and the meal was inedible, but Everett's recollection of the evening is hilarious. I also appreciated his witty take on the misery of being one of the duo who hand out awards to other actors.

The tone is generally discreet, the language alternating between the vulgar and the lyrical, with memories of the 'cartoon world' of acting and actors that are both affectionate and nostalgic. But real emotions come through too, as when Everett says of New York on 9/11, 'Anyone would help you that day. Anyone' or when he recalls the death of his beloved dog. Like the title, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins: The Autobiography intrigues as its author shares with the listener scintillating tidbits of the rich, famous, and often dysfunctional.

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