Rupert Everett admits he was ‘scared s**tless’ during the AIDS crisis and ‘ran away’ from ex-lovers battling the disease after discussing coming out as gay aged 30
Rupert Everett has admitted he was ‘scared s**tless’ during the AIDS crisis as he discussed his decision to come out as gay on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.
The actor, 61, said he was fully aware of his sexuality ‘all the way through’ his life despite a string of relationships with men and women, as he discussed the ‘freedom’ he felt during years partying in London in the 1980s.
Rupert went onto admit that he was ‘terrified’ by the threat of HIV/AIDS after being shocked to learn a former lover was battling the deadly disease.
Candid: Rupert Everett has admitted he was ‘scared s**tless’ during the AIDS crisis as he discussed his decision to come out as gay on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories
Rupert discussed his decision to move to London in the 1970s and 1980s where he threw himself into the partying scene, at a time when homosexuality had been legalised less then a decade earlier.
However the actor waited until he was 30 to public confirm he was gay, clarifying he still enjoyed certain relationships he had with women.
He explained: ‘It’s lovely being with a woman it’s completely different, they were all very very nice relationships. I got all the women the rest of you just w**k over!
‘Being gay was only legal for seven years at that point so it felt like a political thing it felt like freedom.’
Speaking out: The actor said he was fully aware of his sexuality ‘all the way through’ his life despite a string of relationships with men and women (pictured in 1984)
Open: He said: ‘Being gay was only legal for seven years at that point so it felt like a political thing it felt like freedom’
Rupert went onto detail the threat of HIV/AIDS crisis at a time when little was known about the disease, which was viewed by many as a death sentence.
He said: ‘I discovered about it because I was having an affair with another actress in a hotel in London.
She was in the bath and I was watching TV, and this picture of this guy who used to sleep with came up, as the sound came in it said ”this guy is one of the first to get the new gay cancer” so I was horrified and in shock.
‘We were immediately outcast really. You could see if you went out for Sunday lunch with the family that someone would gingerly take your plate and wash it separately.
‘I was terrified of it, and of him, at a certain point too. I don’t think it was me at my best, and what’s difficult for people to imagine now is what a drawn out and painful and humiliating and scary death it was.
Worry: He went onto admit that he was ‘terrified’ by the threat of HIV/AIDS after being shocked to learn a former lover was battling the deadly disease
‘Some friends of mine who survived it and didn’t have it were so amazing to their lovers, I didn’t. I was scared s**tless and ran in the opposite direction.
During his career, Rupert had a string of liaisons with high-profile stars, including actress Susan Sarandon and presenter Paula Yates.
He went onto share details of his six-year affair with Bob Geldof’s late wife and told how he feels ‘no guilt’ over their romance.
Rupert said that he thinks he was ‘in love’ with Paula and simply ‘ignored’ her husband Bob while they were together after beginning their love affair in 1982.
Paula, who died aged 41 after taking a heroin overdose in 2000, married Bob in 1986 and the couple were plagued by rumours of infidelity in their 20-year relationship.
Candid: Rupert also shared details of his six-year affair with Bob Geldof’s late wife Paula Yates and told how he feels ‘no guilt’ over their romance
Rupert first publicly admitted to his long-running affair with TV presenter Paula during an extract titled My Life With The Divas with the Daily Mail in 2006, in which he admitted he was ‘mystified by his heterosexual affairs’.
Rupert spoke candidly about Paula and confirmed he was with her ‘before and after’ her marriage to Bob.
He said: ‘We were very, very close, I must say, for a long time, and she’s someone that I adored and still do. ‘I think I was in love with her. I adored her.’
‘How did you square off Bob in all this?’ Piers asked.
Rupert told the presenter he ‘just ignored him’ and admitted that the star was aware of the affair she was conducting with the Shakespeare in Love actor.
Marriage: Paula, who died aged 41 after taking a heroin overdose in 2000, married Bob in 1986 and the couple were plagued by rumours of infidelity in their 20-year relationship
Rupert said: ‘We were very, very close, I must say, for a long time, and she’s someone that I adored and still do. ‘I think I was in love with her. I adored her’
When asked if he felt guilty Rupert said ‘no’, and added: ‘I don’t know, I think it would be for her to feel guilty, not me.’
Elsewhere in the honest interview, Rupert is set to talk about discovering his sexuality, his encounter with serial killer Dennis Nilsen, and the effect the HIV epidemic had on his life.
The film star, who identifies as homosexual, wrote in the 2006 extract: I am mystified by my heterosexual affairs, but then I am mystified by most of my relationships.’
‘That side of our relationship was tenuous to say the least, and our lives went in different directions.’
When questioned if he could have ‘saved’ her from her accidental overdose, he said: ‘I am afraid once someone goes off the rails your instinct is to run a mile.
‘In love’: The actor, 61, told the Piers that he thinks he was ‘in love’ with Paula and simply ‘ignored’ her husband Bob while they were together (pictured together in 1995)
‘Fate took such twists. If Michael Hutchence hadn’t died, Paula might have survived. Hers was an incredible story in the limelight.
‘She was just dealt card after card in the last ten years of her life. She came from this weird Fifties TV world of evangelists and actresses [Paula’s father was Jess Yates, a TV evangelist]. She was such an English character.’
Although she was married and he is gay, Rupert and Paula are believed to have begun an ‘almost immediate affair’ after first meeting.
Previously detailing their first encounter, Rupert said: ‘She had a thin, flat voice and she clung to her man like a sweet, little, cartoon octopus.’
Discussing his overwhelming sexual attraction to her, he said: ‘She had a fragility that was erotic to men. She could break if you squeezed her too hard.
‘She had a tiny waist that you could put your hands around and your fingers would nearly touch. This was her most extraordinary feature, because it gave the man she let hold her a sense of protective power; even if you were gay, you could not help but feel turned on.’
Honest: Rupert told the presenter he ‘just ignored him’ and admitted that the star was aware of the affair she was conducting with the Shakespeare in Love actor
Rupert described first meeting Paula with Bob in 1982, four years before their marriage. He said went for dinner with Bob and Paula, before she interviewed him for Cosmopolitan magazine the following day.
He wrote: ‘When we did the interview, she had a curious technique. She began by undressing me like a doll. In those days I was so thin I wore five of everything — socks, tracksuits, T-shirts — and in the name of research, they all came off, one by one.
“What have you got here?” she squeaked. “Another pair of socks?” Pretty soon I was down to my underwear and she was sitting on top of me.
‘Her skirts and petticoats were like an overflowing bubble bath, snapping with electricity, and at some point the interview ended and a strange love affair of utter misfits began.’
Romance: Rupert spoke candidly about Paula and confirmed he was with her ‘before and after’ her relationship with Bob (pictured in 1984)
‘She was married. I was gay. These constraints operated like a kind of safety net and there were no obstacles between us.’
Rupert described how Paula would come and visit him in his dressing room while starring in the play, Another Country, and again when he joined the cast of another production – while many of his co-stars assumed they were an item.
While Paula may have ‘clung’ to Bob as described by Rupert, she was repeatedly unfaithful to him during their marriage.
Paula famously interviewed INXS frontman Michael Hutchence while in bed on The Big Breakfast TV show in 1995, when they were apparently already embroiled in a love affair.
Five months after the interview aired, he had left his girlfriend Helena Christensen, she had abandoned her marriage.
Family: Bob and Paula pictured at Euro Disney with their children Peaches, Pixie and Fifi
Paula left Bob, who she shared daughters Peaches, Pixie and Fifi with, to pursue a relationship with the rock star, leaving her husband devastated.
Paula and Michael soon welcomed daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, now 24.
Two years later Michael committed suicide by hanging in an Australian hotel room. At the time Paula refused to accept that he would have voluntarily left her and their young daughter.
Three years later Paula was found dead following a heroin overdose.
Following the tragic death of both of her parents, Bob adopted Tiger Lily so that she was able to stay with her sisters.
The story of tragedy repeated in April 2014 when Paula and Bob’s daughter Peaches died of an overdose aged 25.
‘Love of her life’: Paula left Bob, who she shared daughters Peaches, Pixie and Fifi with, to pursue a relationship with the rock star, leaving her husband devastated
Rupert Everett: My Life With The Divas, part 2
Rupert first detailed his six-year affair with Paula during an extract for the Daily Mail called My Life With the Divas, part 2.
Paula Yates and Bob Geldof came to see me in 1982, when I was appearing in the stage version of Another Country, my first West End hit.
• Rupert Everett and Sharon Stone
Bob had just performed in Alan Parker’s adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. According to Alan, Bob had a c*** so big that he needed a wheelbarrow to carry it around in.
Everything about Bob announced the fact: the incredibly thin body, the large pushy nose, the jungle smell of the man and, of course, the delight he evidently felt at the sound of his own voice.
He never listened. But this is not a put-down. Actually, it is the recipe for success. Bob was definitely sexy in a good old-fashioned Rimbaud (the poet) kind of a way, and all set to become a legend one way or another.
Rupert described first meeting Paula and Bob for dinner in 1982 (pictured 1994)
Paula was his perfect foil. Or at least that’s how it looked. On the one hand she was a typical English rock chick, with her shock of peroxide hair, a white candyfloss quiff, and a wardrobe of beautiful clothes made by the fashion designer Antony Price.
She had a thin, flat voice and she clung to her man like a sweet little cartoon octopus. Literally. But she was no bimbo, although she loved it if you thought she was. She was intelligent.
Paula wasn’t classically beautiful, and yet she was startlingly attractive. She had a fragility that was erotic to men. She could break if you squeezed her too hard. She had a tiny waist that you could put your hands around and your fingers would nearly touch.
This was her most extraordinary feature, because it gave the man she let hold her a sense of protective power; even if you were gay you could not help but feel turned on.
Her face had the illusion of beauty, but in fact it was wonky all over. She had a pretty nose, little girl’s eyes, but her lips gave everything away. I think lips are more telling than eyes, and Paula’s were as expressive as a cardiogram.
They were small and pointed at the top, and however sultry she was, I felt the lips could never quite control the mirth inside her, while there was still mirth. They also hid her sweet uneven teeth.
Half Mata Hari and half Marti Caine (an old-school Northern music-hall comic), she moved between the two states as guilelessly as a child, and it was easy to fall in love with her.
After she and Bob came to see me on stage, we went out for dinner. It was a way of breaking the ice before Paula interviewed me for Cosmopolitan magazine the following day.
When we did the interview, she had a curious technique. She began by undressing me like a doll. In those days I was so thin I wore five of everything — socks, tracksuits, T-shirts — and in the name of research, they all came off, one by one.
Rupert said Paula had a ‘curious’ interview technique of undressing him (pictured 1995)
“What have you got here?” she squeaked. “Another pair of socks?” Pretty soon I was down to my underwear and she was sitting on top of me.
Her skirts and petticoats were like an overflowing bubble bath, snapping with electricity, and at some point the interview ended and a strange love affair of utter misfits began.
She was married. I was gay. These constraints operated like a kind of safety net and there were no obstacles between us.
During those early days, she would come to my dressing room, her arrival down the stairs announced by the rustle of petticoats, the click of Manolo heels and the odd little gasp.
She loved a dramatic entrance and had invented her own brand. She would stand in the doorway like Tinkerbell, then bite her lip and in a breathy voice borrowed from Marilyn Monroe she would say: “Hi, big boy…” It was pure genius.
When I finished Another Country, I went straight into a play with Gordon Jackson, the actor who played Hudson, the butler, in Upstairs Downstairs.
He was a lovely man, and so was his wife Rona. Neither of them had any idea who Paula was or that she was with Bob, whoever he was, or that I was gay for that matter. But they saw us together a lot and so assumed we were an item.
They would ask us out for dinner. Rona would tell Paula about the pitfalls of being married to an actor, and Gordon would advise me about the right time to take out a mortgage (never).
One night, when Paula and I had both been feeling fairly suicidal about our mixed-up lives, Rona asked us when we were going to tie the knot.
Our immediate reactions were to think that she was talking about making a noose. Gordon threw back his head and roared with laughter. “Will ye hark on these young?” he said to Rona. “Soon,” screeched Paula, desperately back-pedalling.
During our various encounters — when we were sometimes joined by a desperately shy Kenneth Williams, Gordon’s best friend, the potential for living according to the norm was certainly not lost on me.
Rupert said Paula was a ‘fragile but unbreakable’ character like Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe (pictured 2000)
It was effortless being one of the guys. “She’s quite sensitive, isn’t she?” broached Rona one day, while Paula was in the loo. She was right.
Paula was desperately fragile and with any kind of confrontation she was channelled back before your very eyes into a nine-year-old child.
But she was unbreakable at the same time. In the tradition of the great fragile rocks — Monroe, Princess Diana — this combination was likely to drive a man mad.
Men see it, they want it, they think they can ride it, but when they find it is unbreakable, that’s when the murder starts.
She had picked herself up and stuck the bits together on her own. But some bits were in the wrong place.
She met Michael Hutchence, the singer from the band INXS, on the set of her TV show The Big Breakfast one morning in 1993.
People who were there that day said you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife; there wasn’t just sexual tension in the air, but also a feeling of collision. Two runaway trains were crashing into each other.
Michael was with the model Helena Christensen, and Paula had three children with Bob, and yet they could barely contain themselves.
Rupert said Paula and Michael were ‘two runaway trains were crashing into each other’ (pictured 1996)
It was a black hole that sucked them both in. They were the Cathy and Heathcliff of the Ecstasy generation.
When Paula and I met shortly afterwards, she was tinged with hysteria; her little pale lashes framed eyes that glowed like a vampire from a Hammer horror film.
But she was in great spirits, ecstatically happy, and playfully dug her stiletto into my groin under the table.
We were sitting in Valotti’s teashop on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, one of the last establishments of its kind where actors could eat beans on toast in the rush between the matinee and the evening performance.
Against its red and yellow squeezy bottles of ketchup and mustard, its stainless-steel sugar bowls and cracked white teacups, she’d never looked so good.
She had filled out, turning into a busty barmaid, yet still with that strange fragility, the latest in a line of English blondes, from Dusty Springfield to Diana Dors and Bet Lynch.
She was sexy and fatal.
I met Michael only once. Shortly before he died in 1997, Michael and Paula came to a play I was doing at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith.
When they came backstage afterwards, they were sweet but detached. It was a strange place to meet, because neither Paula nor I had been there since the days of Gordon and Rona Jackson all those years ago.
We were adults now; strangers to ourselves then. But standing in the same place now, we couldn’t get back. Paula was giggly. Michael smiled. I was jumpy.
At the dinner afterwards, there definitely seemed to be an aura of tragedy about them. Their faces looked as though they were seeing something else happening in the room.
Rupert recalled meeting Michael once shortly before his death
Maybe, deep inside, they knew they were reaching the end of their journey. Each moment was just the one before the one before the last.
What was a first-night party for the rest of us was just one in a series of sad farewells for them. Events had outdone them.
They had the nanny who spoke to a delighted Press of Polaroids and opium under the bed. Bob and Paula fought. That delighted the Press even more.
Then it emerged that Paula’s real father was not the television evangelist Jess Yates, but the presenter Hughie Greene, a macabre TV monster with the cheery bedside manner of a killer gynaecologist.
Discovering that you were his child would have made you wonder who you were at the best of times, and it came as a death stroke when Paula’s world was already caving in.
She held it together as long as she had Michael. And then he hanged himself from the bathroom door of a hotel room. Was it sex or suicide? Either way, Paula didn’t recover.
Her last act was from Hamlet; her Ophelia would drown in a river of flashbulbs. Her every stumble was catalogued; there was nowhere to hide. Somehow death was inevitable.
One October morning in 1997, I was in bed in New York and the telephone rang. It was Bob. We had not spoken in nearly 20 years.
“Paula’s dead and you’ve got to come and read a poem at the funeral,” he said. “She wouldn’t forgive you if you don’t.”
The service was at Faversham, Kent, in the converted medieval abbey that Bob had bought for Paula in those heady days when everything seemed as if it could never go wrong, and if it did there was all the time in the world to fix it.
Then they had been the Arthur and Guinevere of the New Labour movement; common with a grand touch, and Faversham a kind of Camelot.
Bob’s Round Table was the cream of international celebrity, though actually Paula had been the inspiration of the Live Aid movement.
She was the one who stuck a collection box onto the fridge after watching a television documentary about Ethiopia.
She had escaped from Camelot with Michael, but now she was back. The Round Table were all there to welcome her home: Paul Young, Nick Cave, Bono, Jools Holland; older, a touch tubbier, more cautious, standing in awkward groups in the October sunshine.
There was nothing cheery about the event, which is unusual for funerals. Annie Lennox walked up and down at the end of the garden all alone, looking like The Scream by Edvard Munch.
Paula’s white coffin, covered in tiger lilies, was carried into the chapel and the service began. It was beautiful.
Bob had thought of everything and it was moving to watch him. Whatever anyone might say, Paula had been the love of his life. Now he had her back, feet first.
At the end of the service they put on a track of Paula singing These Boots Are Made for Walking.
I remembered seeing her the day after she had recorded it. We had been shopping in Chelsea, and she bought me a leather jacket.
Her disembodied voice filled the old church: breathless, thin. She was no singer, but there she was again over the hiss of static, suddenly alive.
Our hearts leapt for a moment at the trick of sound and it was hard to listen to that silly song through chorus after chorus, but finally she said: “Come on, boots, walk.”
The pall-bearers, big-fingered mafioso types, lumbered from their seats and picked up the coffin as Paula broke into a final chorus and her physical remains left the church to be burnt at the crematorium.
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