Ironically, it is the character of Wayne Malloy, resourceful patriarch of a family of thieving, Irish-American travelers, which has afforded Izzard the chance to finally put down some roots. Not surprisingly, he has found a way to relate to his small-screen alter ego.
“Actors are constantly moving around and living in a house that quite easily could be temporary and they have to do a lot of lying, as well,” the show’s star and co-executive producer told the Irish Echo in a recent phone interview.
While shooting 45 minutes of television a week does make for a grueling work schedule, Izzard says he was up for the challenge and couldn’t be more pleased with the end results.
“It is a tough schedule,” the 44-year-old actor acknowledged, “but being settled in one place is brilliant. I like that because when I was touring doing stand-up … that traveling can get to you; that constantly having to pack up your bag and never being able to unpack totally. So, I’m very keen to be in one place.”
In the series, Wayne, his wife Dahlia (played by “Circle of Friends” star Minnie Driver) and their three children give up their roving ways and attempt to steal the American dream by assuming the identities of a wealthy, recently deceased family.
In the first episode, the Louisiana-raised Malloys trade in their battered RV for the posh home Doug and Cherien Rich were about to move into, meanwhile charming the new neighbors the Riches never actually met.
“This is just a great role!” Izzard declared, adding that the scheme is Wayne’s way of trying to “lie and cheat to the truth.”
Although best-known for his smash cross-dressing stand-up comedy shows: “Definite Article,” “Dress to Kill,” and “Sexie,” the Emmy Award-winning actor, who describes himself in real life as being a “straight transvestite” or “male lesbian,” has also earned critical kudos in dramatic circles, as well, playing the title character in a London production of Christopher Marlowe’s “Edward II” and earning a Tony Award nomination for his portrayal of the father of a handicapped child in a recent revival of Peter Nichols’ darkly funny drama, “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.”
Asked if fans are surprised by his versatility, Izzard replied, “I think they might be, but if they know my career, they know I’ve been pushing doing dramatic stuff for some time now. My career was kind of schizophrenic, really – pushing on the drama, pushing on the comedy, and this is where it can cross over.”
Born in Yemen when his British parents were on a business trip, the multi-talented Izzard spent his early years in Bangor, Co. Down before relocating to Wales and then England with his dad after his beloved mother passed away.
“It was the best time of my life,” Izzard confided about his time in the North.
Izzard says he even kept dates in Northern Ireland when his tour manager refused to go into the region because someone had just been shot.
“I said: ‘Stuff it; it’s not going on all over the place. It does happen.’ And I just got in the car and drove myself up and took the gigs in Belfast and Derry on my own. I loved it,” he said.
“The Riches” airs Monday nights on FX.