This evening, Trinity’s library paired up with the Oscar Wilde Centre and the School of English to present a public interview with world-famous actor Rupert Everett, in celebration of Oscar Wilde.
Everett is well known for many widely varied roles in films that are both incredibly popular and well made. Some well-known works of his include Shakespeare in Love, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Another Country and of course, Shrek 2. However, public opinion has dictated that Everett’s star never shines as brightly as when he performs the works of Wilde.
Indeed, beginning with his crystal clear childhood memories of his mother reading him stories such as The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose, it seems that Wilde has been an ever-present spectre over his career. He received massive critical acclaim for his stage work playing Lord Henry Wotten in The Picture of Dorian Gray and later for playing the legendary writer himself in The Judas Kiss, for which he was nominated for an Olivier award.
In film, Everett has stolen the show in The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband. Everett humbly speaks of his luck in discovering that his manner simply seemed to suit Wilde’s. He somehow inherently knew how best to bring to life Wilde’s colourful characters and bitingly insightful dialogue.
Everett’s wit and eloquence is not reserved for his performances. His dulcet voice enveloped the jam-packed Robert Emmet Theatre and, thankfully, was powerful enough to rise above the noise.
It is to Everett’s credit that the only flaw in this event was nothing to do with him. The organisers seemed to continue finding reasons to move in and out of the theatre. With each opening of the door, a wave of student chatter entered the theatre, competing with Everett for the ears of the audience. Needless to say, Everett’s in-built charm and evocative words overcame the distractions to hold the attention of the eager audience.
Any Trinity English student in attendance would have noticed the star-studded crowd of academics, including Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Prof Darryl Jones and giant of Wilde studies, Dr Jarlath Killeen, all suited and booted to impress Everett. At the end of the evening, the academics presented Everett with a rare illustrated edition of The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Wilde’s last work. Everett was extremely grateful in his reception of the wonderful gift, repeatedly offering the humblest of thanks with no attempt to mask his evident excitement to go home and read the book, which elicited gasps of jealousy from every Wilde fan in the crowd.
Those present were treated not only to Everett’s recounting of Wilde’s biography but also his briefly entering full performance mode. Everett quoted his favourite piece of Wilde’s work, a passage from The Picture of Dorian Gray, recalling the story of a prophet asking the profound question, what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?
Everett recited the entire passage from memory with the uninhibited exuberance of a stage performance and was met with a resounding and well-deserved round of applause from an appreciative audience.
The interview followed the launch of the latest exhibition to grace the Long Room, entitled “Oscar Wilde: From Decadence to Despair”. The exhibition will be on display from October 13th, 2017, to January 2018. The evening with Everett was, unsurprisingly, a treat for academics and fans of Everett and Wilde alike.