Rupert Everett may not have caught the bouquet in ”My Best Friend’s Wedding,” but he got the next best souvenir — a promotion to leading-man status. Everett, whose ”An Ideal Husband” opens Friday, has come a long way since his ”Dunston Checks In” days. Next up for him are starring roles in ”Inspector Gadget” opposite Matthew Broderick (opening July 23) and Madonna’s ”The Next Best Thing” (later this year). Though the 40-year-old Brit has been heavily hyped as the first openly gay actor to move seamlessly between straight romantic leads and gay characters, he isn’t impressed by his fans’ willingness to suspend their disbelief when he gets the girl. ”What am I supposed to do, get down on all fours and worship everyone because they accept me?” Everett snapped to EW Online. ”If people enjoy what I do, I feel gratified. But if I have to start thinking of feeling that way because I’m a homosexual, I think that’s a bit sick. I’d be insulted.”
Everett, who has wooed Michelle Pfeiffer and Minnie Driver onscreen, actually yearns for a return to the days when actors were not only closeted but had elaborate fictional lives constructed by the studio system (remember Rock Hudson’s ”marriage?”). ”For performers years ago, the personas they had for the public had no relation to them, and I do think that is the ideal,” he says. ”You really want to be able to concentrate on the film and not on the performer. Now people want to find out more about the star themselves when they go to see a movie, and that’s a freaky thing.”
No matter how you feel about Everett’s partner preferences on or off screen, the ever-flexible star will be offering a regular sexual smorgasbord to audiences when the spy thriller he’s writing makes it into theaters. Modeled on James Bond, the dashing character he’ll portray ”isn’t gay,” says Everett. Instead, ”he plays the whole court.” How, uh, sporting of him.