The family moved to Northern Ireland then South Wales when he was a child.
After the death of his mother when he was six, Izzard attended various boarding schools and later went to Sheffield University, where he began his career in comedy.
In the 1980s he worked as a street performer and in small comedy venues before making his breakthrough in 1993 with his one-man comedy show Eddie Izzard: Live at the Ambassadors.
He became known for cross-dressing during performances and has said he knew he was a transvestite from the age of four.
He has won numerous accolades, including two Emmys in 2000 for his show Dress to Kill.
He speaks fluent French and has performed shows entirely in French. He performed his first shows in German this year.
A staunch Labour supporter who is also known for his pro-European stance, he is to stand for election as Mayor of London in 2020.
He has also aired his views on Scottish independence, saying England would feel a "deep sense of loss" if Scotland left the UK.
He completed 43 marathons in 51 days for Sport Relief in 2009.
As an actor, he has appeared in films including Ocean's Twelve, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Valkyrie, as well as TV shows such as Treasure Island, The Good Wife and Hannibal.