Gay British actor Rupert Everett said writer Oscar Wilde, who died in disgrace in Paris in 1900, is his personal Jesus during an interview broadcast on the BBC yesterday.
'He fills me with the same compassion that Jesus fills other people with,' said Everett, who is is currently playing Wilde in the David Hare play The Judas Kiss.
'As a gay person he's really the beginning of the gay movement in public,' said Everett to interviewer Andrew Marr.
'Before Wilde a woman would never have spoken about homosexuality, the words to describe it were things like "pathic", "inverted". Really he gave homosexuality its profile. And from that moment on I think the gay movement started.'
Marr praised Everett's writing in his memoirs and quoted master interviewer Lynn Barber saying she wished he would go full-time into writing.
'I really love where writing has taken my life and I definitely want to go on doing it,' said Everett.
'One of my aims is to try and write screenplays for myself to be in. And I'm trying to get my Oscar Wilde film off the ground as well. I'd like to write another memoir and novel hopefully.'
Everett attracted controversy in the gay community last September when he said he 'couldn't imagine anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads' and that gay marriage was 'beyond tragic'.
The outspoken actor said he received hate mail and death threats following the comments.