Eddie Izzard Has an Unlikely Inspiration for ‘Treasure Island’

Over the years, almost 50 actors have portrayed Long John Silver in various incarnations of the classic tale "Treasure Island." The slate of stars has been as wide afield as Orson Welles, Vic Tayback, Charlton Heston, and Tim Curry. But it's safe to assume that none have drawn inspiration from the same place as the latest actor to step into the role. In a recent interview, Eddie Izzard talked about his unusual reference point.

Eddie Izzard Found Inspiration in Winston Churchill for Long John Silver in 'Treasure Island'

Izzard revealed that he based his version of the one-legged pirate from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novella on Winston Churchill. He explained, "The interesting thing is with Silver is that he keeps changing sides, he keeps shifting the ground. Sometimes it's pushed upon him, but sometimes it's him manipulating and moving."

This fact led Izzard to recall the former British Prime Minister, who famously changed political parties twice in his career. Izzard noted that the politician has been voted the greatest British person of all time in a U.K. television poll. But Izzard characterized Churchill's willingness to shift from a conservative to a liberal and back to a conservative yet again as "ratting."

Given his assessment of the Prime Minister, it's less surprising that Izzard drew on the politician for his new portrayal. After all Long John Silver is a traitorous pirate and the villain in Saturday night's adaptation of "Treasure Island" on Syfy, but he's also a very compelling character.

Eddie Izzard Would Like to Have a Beer with Long John Silver from 'Treasure Island'

Izzard further detailed his motivation for the role, saying, "If you look at the history of Churchill, it's all over the place. He was against India getting its freedom. He kept changing parties. He was on the wrong side of the right decision many times. Like in World War II, he was in the right decision. And in the end with Long John Silver you do think, 'Well I think I'd be okay having a beer with this guy. I think I like him. I'm not sure, don't really trust, but I think I like him.'"

It's no doubt that Izzards' characterization of Long John Silver will be unique. As will the edgy new production, which also stars Toby Regbo as Jim Hawkins, Elijah Wood as Ben Gunn and Donald Sutherland as Flint. The two part mini-series was directed by Steve Barron and executive produced by Robert Halmi, Sr., Alan Moloney, Mark Grenside, Melanie Stokes, Anne Brogan, and Ann Harrison-Baxter.

Tune in to "Treasure Island" on Saturday, May 5 at 7 p.m. EST/6 p.m. Central on Syfy.

More From This Contributor:

Roxana Brusso Talks About 'Touch'

Tony Robbins on Getting Through Tough Financial Times

Deepak Chopra Joins 'Oprah's Lifeclass' to Help the World

View Comments