You have to believe you can do standup before you become a standup, believe you can act before you become an actor, believe you can be an astronaut before you become an astronaut, but you’ve got to believe. This is one explanation of Eddie Izzard’s success offered up by Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, the 2009 documentary made by Izzard’s ex, Sarah Townsend. The film then goes on to try to glean where this confidence, ego, and belief in himself comes from and why he’s so perplexingly driven. (The guy did 43 marathons in 51 days and set the record for doing most countries in a standup tour, several of which he did in the local language.) Ultimately, we learn that his drive is related to his mother, who died when he was very young.
But before we get you down, Believe is not all about that. A lot of it follows Izzard’s journey from putting on puppet shows in boarding school to joining a comedy duo and street performing in Covent Garden to starting standup. One thing I didn’t know was that he had his own club for a while called Raging Bull where he was the compere everyone came to see. Soon he brought his act to West End and came out as a transvestite. Largely, he received a good reception to this revelation, though he was beaten up once. We follow Izzard to America where he got roles in films and met Robin Williams, who helped him break into the U.S. comedy scene by attaching his name to a California production. We also get to watch Izzard’s style change from typical frumpy comedian clothes to rockstar. The interviewees seem a bit baffled that he’s able to maintain the rockstar image while being in such an anti-mystique industry.
You can watch Believe on Hulu for free.