'Hedwig' star also writer, director
PROS: Ambitious effort for someone whose name is new to many.
CONS: Subject matter might be a bit too extreme for some voters.
Forget Billy, Whoopi or even Steve. Wouldn’t it be something if Hedwig hosted the Oscars?
“I don’t really do Hedwig anymore, but I’d probably make an exception to sing a song at the Oscars,” says John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote, directed and starred in Fine Line’s well-reviewed comedy “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” “I would totally do a dance routine to my own score, but in old Oscar style. It would have the bad dinner-theater male dancers, but then turn on a dime and I’d make them cry.”
Kicking up his heels and donning the blond locks for close to five years onstage before shooting the screen version added to the inner battle that brewed between Mitchell the director and actor.
“I had a little switch that would go off. The line between the character and me had gotten very thin,” he says. “So if I was having a really bad day as Hedwig, I could often, as a director, speak a little quieter or be a little more irritable. Whatever was going on in the moment I allowed myself to use it.”
As an actor, Mitchell was often extremely hard on himself, wanting to deliver the perfect perf.
“There certainly were times where I felt I couldn’t get the performance to a certain level that maybe I had gotten onstage,” Mitchell recalls. “I was quite aware of how good it could be, and there was a disappointment. But I had to say to myself, ‘I just can give myself another take.’
“It’s funny because I really didn’t want to act in this movie. I had been doing the role for years and was distracted by the new thing I was into, the directing,” he continues. “In a way, I had to give in to the logic that I’ve been playing it for so long, and wrote it for myself, and with every skill I had that I was the best for the part, even though there were other Hedwigs.
“It came down to practical little things, like I looked more like a woman in close-up than the other male Hedwigs.”