Eddie Izzard came to “The Riches” in much the same way his character Wayne Malloy came to take on the identity of Doug Rich in the FX series: by being in the right place at the right time.
It was through a meeting with Maverick Television topper Michael Rosenberg that Izzard first heard of the show, which had just been pitched to the company. “He mentioned this story about a group of Travellers, and (that) they move into a housing development and take over somebody’s identity. And I said I’d like to do that story,” Izzard says.
As an exec producer on the show, Izzard had a large hand in shaping it, helping pitch it to the network and working with creator Dmitry Lipkin and the writers on stories until a few weeks before production, when he bowed out to focus on the character. “It’s odd to sit in both places at once,” Izzard says, “and it was kind of frying my brain in a certain way, so I thought I’d get out and just concentrate on being Wayne.”
The character is, naturally, one Izzard feels a strong connection with. “He feels he’s just wasting his life because he’s just not putting anything solid down. It’s all about taking,” the actor says. “He wants to change that, but he hasn’t got a clue how to do it.”
The deceptions Malloy perpetuates to achieve that change lead to some interesting dilemmas as he is caught between his new lifestyle and a more transient culture. “There’s always this stress, this struggle to just try and get to the safer place.”
Izzard says he had no idea the show was so unusual for American television, though reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. “I just thought it was a great story; I didn’t realize it was so original,” he says. “People are saying, ‘Yeah, I haven’t seen something like this.’ ”
Favorite scene: “One of my favorites, if it’s not my favorite, was just having a fight in the bathroom, and then I come out and the whole family just falls out and we all get into the RV. It’s not a real complicated scene, but it really did feel like a family on the run.”
Where you’d like to see your character go next season: “I always thought that I just wanted to do something where he is using his talking ability, so somewhere between evangelical religion and politics seem to flag in my mind as something he should get involved in.”
TV guilty pleasure: ” ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ I suppose. … As a transvestite, I find it kind of curious.”