Berlin: Rupert Everett Says "It's Great to Be Homosexual Now"

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Rupert Everett

But 'The Happy Prince' director warned a triumphant gay rights revolution has yet to touch Russia.

Rupert Everett on Saturday applauded recent gains in gay rights and tolerance, but warned oppression of LGBQT communities remains rampant elsewhere worldwide.

"In our world, it's great to be homosexual now. But in lots of other worlds, it's really disastrous to be homosexual — in Russia, in Uganda," the actor told a Berlin International Film Festival press conference for The Happy Prince, his directorial debut about Oscar Wilde’s tragic final years.

Everett argued the gay liberation movement started with Wilde, the 19th century Irish poet and playwright, who was eventually imprisoned for his sexuality, followed by three years of exile in Paris.

"Homosexuality wasn't even a word before Oscar Wilde, and it certainly wasn't a thing that was discussed by society as a whole," he said. "And in a hundred years ... we've gone from a man who was assassinated for his sexuality, to where we stand now, and we should take heart from that, because Oscar is the beginning of that journey."

But the veteran actor conceded there was a backlash against today's gay rights revolution after the press conference moderator pointed to members of gay communities being imprisoned and murdered in other parts of the world.

"That makes this story also very important. For us, we should take heart. For them, we should be on the attack," Everett said. The openly gay actor also insisted he was drawn to playing Wilde after his own Hollywood career suffered once he came out of the closet.

"I do find, being a gay performer in cinema, there's many parallels between being an outcast, or not quite accepted. It drew me to tell the [Wilde] story. I put a lot of myself in the film," he said.

The Happy Prince is getting a special gala screening in Berlin on the fest's first Saturday night, out of competition. Everett stars as Wilde in the feature, alongside Colin Firth and Emily Watson.

Everett's Berlinale appearance followed Sony Pictures Classics earlier during the festival nabbing the rights to The Happy Prince for North America and Latin America.

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