The almost-famous title character of the mind-blowing glam-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch would probably see the film's opening Friday as her chance, at last, to bask in the spotlight that she has always deserved. But for actor-singer-writer-director John Cameron Mitchell, the occasion presents an altogether different, but no less fervently desired, opportunity: to leave behind his alter ego's glitter make-up and go-go boots, and fade into the background.
The El Paso, Tex., native spent nearly a decade Off-Broadway and beyond developing the role of the East German boy whose life is cut to bits by an endless parade of calamities — paramount among them, the bungled sex-change operation that gives his... er, her band its name. So when the time came to adapt the stage show for the screen, "I didn't want to play the part," he tells TV Guide Online. "I was really over it. I was much more interested in directing it."
To further complicate matters, Mitchell the actor made life on the set such hell for Mitchell the director that it was all that the latter could do not to pull out his — or Hedwig's — hair. "I had to coax myself out of my trailer every day, [saying] 'You're beautiful, honey!'" he laughs. "Actually, it wasn't a whole lot of fun. It was kind of marathonish, especially when I had to run up and down a hill to check the video playback [of a scene] in heels. To me, the drag thing was always more a part of the character than fun, so it was a little painful when I'd have the wig clip in my scalp for 12 hours.
"But," he adds, "I did save time giving myself notes."As exhausting as Mitchell found the experience of bringing his golden girl to the silver screen, he is still looking forward to reporting to the set of another feature — provided that, in the future, there will be no rouge on his cheeks or star on his dressing-room door. "I think I'll be directing and writing for the next few years with a little bit of acting here and there, but not as the focus anymore," he admits. "I'm really kind of burned out on acting for awhile."