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Why Peter Solomon From The Lost Symbol Looks So Familiar

You don't hang around Robert Langdon very long without finding yourself wrapped up in some kind of mystery. That's true again in the latest adaptation of one of author Dan "Da Vinci Code" Brown's novels, the Peacock series "The Lost Symbol." This version stars a young Langdon (Ashley Zukerman), journeying across Washington, D.C. to locate his kidnapped mentor Peter Solomon and unravel a plot that could threaten the entire country. 

You don't have to go hunting far to find the performer who plays Solomon, the British comedian Eddie Izzard, who has worked in film and television, across dramas and comedies, blockbusters and indies, film and television. In fact, acting is just a small fraction of her repertoire. (Izzard identifies as gender-fluid, and stated a preference last year for she/her pronouns, according to The Guardian.) She's also a stand-up comedian, a political activist (and potential candidate) in the United Kingdom, and a charity marathoner, running multiple clusters of marathons (27 in 27 days in South Africa; 29 in 29 days across Europe in early 2020, and 32 in 31 days virtually on a treadmill in late 2020/early 2021) to raise money for various causes. But she's still best known as a screen performer. Here are some places where you might have seen her.

Eddie Izzard won an Emmy for her stand-up comedy

Eddie Izzard first became famous as a prolific stand-up comedian through her surrealist, stream-of-consciousness act. Izzard started as a student and worked her way up from street performer to world tours and hit specials via jokes about squirrels and flags and why Hitler would have been bad at "Risk." More recently, she's challenged herself by performing stand-up in multiple languages, performing shows in French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Arabic, according to The Guardian.

Her career as a stand-up has won countless accolades. In 2000, Izzard won a pair of Primetime Emmys for her "Dress to Kill" special, one for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, beating out Cher; Chris Rock; Billy Crystal; and Molly Shannon; and one for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series. (She lost the Outstanding Variety Series award to the "Saturday Night Live" 25th-anniversary special.) In 2005, Channel 4 voters selected her the fifth-greatest standup comedian of all time, ranking behind luminaries Billy Connolly, Richard Pryor, Ricky Gervais, and Bill Hicks.

Perhaps most importantly for a performer who grew up idolizing Monty Python, John Cleese once called her "the lost Python," according to a profile in the Irish Independent. She appeared briefly with the surviving members of the troupe at performances in 1998 and 2014.

Eddie Izzard led the Disco Boys in Mystery Men

Like many comedians getting their starts in the films, Izzard's early acting roles are filled with supporting parts in movies. But her entry into film and television largely eschewed the rom-com best friend or wacky comedy neighbor parts in favor of roles in a broader variety of films, from action movies to musical dramas. Her first film role, for instance, was as the Russian handler Vladimir in an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel "The Secret Agent" in 1996. Many of these parts still relied on Izzard to inject a bit of her wit and levity, for instance, playing the hustling music agent Jerry Devine in "Velvet Goldmine."

In 1999's "Mystery Men," she finally found a film and a part nearly as silly and absurd as her own work. Izzard played Tony P (the P stands for Pompadour), the leader of the Champion City gang the Disco Boys, who operate under the auspices of the supervillain mad scientist Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) and battle the film's team of misfit superheroes, played by actors like Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, and Janeane Garofalo.

"Mystery Men" proved to be a box-office flop. It skewered superhero tropes one year before "X-Men" kicked off the cinematic superhero boom, which may be why it fell flat with audiences. The film suffered the worst indignity possible for a superhero movie: it never got a sequel.

Eddie Izzard played a genius gadgeteer in Ocean's Twelve

"Mystery Men" wasn't Izzard's only genre-bending ensemble comedy for long. In 2004, she appeared in "Ocean's Twelve," sequel to the heist megahit "Ocean's Eleven."

Izzard played Roman Nagel, a Q-like tech genius brought in less as a member of the gang and more as a contractor to help them in their heist to steal the Imperial Fabergé egg, specifically by designing the hologram they mean to replace it with. Roman is pompous and barely tolerant of some members of Danny Ocean's (George Clooney) gang of thieves, but his part goes well enough for the gang to bring him back for the heist in "Ocean's Thirteen," where he helps them plan out the scheme of rigged casino games meant to bankrupt Willy Bank (Al Pacino.)

"Essentially this one's really my film," she sarcastically quipped on the red carpet for the premiere. "The film spin's 'round my character, for those two scenes." Though Izzard may not have been part of the main ensemble, the bonds from the film have held up over the years, with George Clooney making a guest appearance on one of the comedian's marathon live streams to joke and encourage her, according to the Daily Mail.

Eddie Izzard dreamed of a better life on The Riches

In 2007, Izzard took a lead role on the FX drama "The Riches," playing the patriarch of a family of Irish Travellers and small-time criminals and con artists who decide to steal the identities of a wealthy couple they accidentally kill and settle down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There, Izzard's Wayne Malloy talks his way into a legal job he's not qualified for while pretending to be Doug Rich, but his family, particularly his recently-paroled wife, Dahlia Malloy (Minnie Driver), has trouble adjusting to the new, more settled lifestyle.

"The Riches" was a critical darling, with Time Magazine including it on its list of the best television shows of 2007 and Driver being nominated for an Emmy. Unfortunately, the second season was truncated by the WGA writer's strike in 2007, and the show was canceled in 2008. Driver wrote on Twitter in 2019 of her disappointment over the decision, which she said was partly due to punitive measures taken against writers in the wake of the strike. "I'd make this show again in a heartbeat," she said.

Izzard, for her part, told an audience at the ATX Television Festival in 2013 that she was constantly being asked why the show ended so soon, including by some famous fans. "I met Sam Jackson in a lift –– in an elevator, as you'd say –– he said 'What's happening to your kid?' wondering what happened to Cael (Noel Fisher) after that last episode," she admitted.

Eddie Izzard was the main course on Hannibal

In 2013, Izzard signed on to a role far from her comedy roots, playing the mass-murdering surgeon Abel Gideon in NBC's horror drama "Hannibal."

When the series begins, Gideon was already a patient at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane after killing his wife and her family. His treatment at the facility leads him to believe that he was actually a notorious serial killer known as the Chesapeake Ripper, who was actually Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). This draws the ire of the more famous killer.

While Gideon escapes and gets to perpetrate some memorable kills of his own, in the second season, his death became one of the most disturbing in the series' run. Kidnapped by Lecter, Gideon has his legs and arms amputated, cooked, and served back to him by the killer, eventually partaking of himself before finally succumbing.

"I liked the idea that he was a pretender to the throne of Hannibal Lecter, that he was a competitor or trying to be a competitor," Izzard told The A.V. Club.