News

Get to Know the Nominees: Richard E. Grant For Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor prospect Richard E. Grant on working with Hollywood's biggest directors, his time with the Spice Girls, and the performance that could (finally) earn him an Oscar.

by | January 3, 2019 | Comments

Richard E. Grant

Grant as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Photo by Mary Cybulski / TM & copyright © Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Rotten Tomatoes’ “Get To Know Your Nominees” series will provide an in-depth look at one nominee from each of the major awards categories – the four acting categories, and directing – diving into their highest-rated work from both fans and critics, essential titles from their filmography, and featuring thoughts on their nominated film drawn from an extended interview. 

The Nominee: Richard E. Grant

How could Richard E. Grant not have nabbed an Oscar by now – let alone a nomination? His 30-plus-year cinematic career reads like a pipe dream, with plucky performances in films helmed by a who’s who of iconic auteurs (Altman, Scorsese, Coppola, and Campion, to name a few). What’s more, he brings it, leaving indelible marks whenever he’s on screen, walking that razor-thin line of grabbing an audience’s full attention without hogging the limelight. Think of him pitching his screenplay poolside in The Player, or going toe to toe with a manic Tom Waits in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or doing—hell—literally anything in Withnail and I.

Come February, though, that golden statuette may no longer elude the 61-year-old, whose turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? has garnered hosannas, racking up (as of this writing) Best Supporting Actor for the Film Critics Circles in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, as well as a Golden Globe nomination. In the 98% Certified Fresh feature, Grant plays Jack Hock, a sort of half-vagrant, half bon-vivant who befriends Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), a biographer reduced to forging letters by literary luminaries for fast cash. Jack has a “scallywag charm,” Grant explains over brunch at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. “You don’t give him your car keys, but you lend him some money knowing that you are never going to see it back.” Grant is electric the movie, an impish yin to McCarthy’s despondent yang. 

The Oscars aren’t all that’s on the actor’s horizon in the coming year. In December, he’ll appear in Star Wars: Episode IX . “You have to wear a full disguised cloak to go from the dressing room into Pinewood Studios, because there are drones going overhead trying to get pictures of the characters and the sets,” he explains. “You have to read the script in a security guarded room that has closed circuit camera.” So…no juicy morsels for us. Got it. Thankfully, the gentlemanly actor was more than happy – and, you know, legally allowed – to chat through the details of the rest of his filmography. 


Fan Favorites: From the Movies’ Most Memorable Drunk to A Marvel Villain

Richard E. Grant

Grant as Withnail in Withnail and I. (Photo by © Cineplex-Odeon Pictures)

Would Richard E. Grant the Actor even exist without Withnail and I? “If Daniel Day-Lewis hadn’t turned down Withnail and I, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now,” Grant says bluntly of his film debut in Bruce Robinson’s 1987 dark comedy. But it wasn’t just fortuitousness that launched him into the spotlight. As Withnail, a booze-addled, constantly grousing failed actor in the dying days of the ’60s, Grant sparkles, giving arguably the most enjoyably accurate depiction of a drunk ever and spitefully spitting out endlessly quotable lines. “The one that I’m asked to repeat to people is, ‘Monty, you terrible c–t,’” he says.

Almost three decades later, that low-budget cult classic earned him a spot on the priciest and biggest TV show of all time. “David [Benioff] and D.B. Weiss were Withnail fans and so they asked me to do this Izembaro character, a bitter and twisted old character actor who’s harrumphing around,” he says of his role on Game of Thrones. (Yes, there’s more than a whiff of Withnail at play here.) The following year, in 2017, he further proved his mettle in Comic-Con fare, tackling the villainous Dr. Zander Rice in Logan, a critical darling that piqued his creative interests. “[The film] wasn’t just superheroes who bounced back as they usually do,” he says of his first reaction to the script. “Because there was a human cost to it.”


The Richard E. Grant Essentials: When Richard Met Robert, Marty, and Francis

Richard E. Grant

Grant in Robert Altman’s Gosford Park.

Grant crossed paths with Robert Altman on The Player and then in the high-society murder mystery Gosford Park, penned by future Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. “[The director] said that he was as interested in what is happening in the corner of the frame as he is in the center,” Grant says of Altman’s pioneering technique of miking and capturing a dozen or so actors at once. With two constantly moving cameras, Grant – who played a country estate’s sardonic first footman – had to “to be completely in character all the time [because] you’re never told whether you’re in close-up or in a wide [shot].”

His résumé with New Hollywood heavyweights doesn’t stop with the king of overlapped dialogue. In the ’90s, Grant caught the eyes of Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Age of Innocence, respectively. “I met Winona Ryder at a party during the making of The Player,” he says. “She was 19, and she said, ‘I know every line of [Withnail and I], my boyfriend Johnny Depp knows every line. You have to be in Dracula.’ So she got me in a meeting with Coppola.” That chance encounter proved fruitful again: “And then straight after Dracula, I was offered Age of Innocence, which she was in. So Winona Ryder was my Talisman.” As far as the directors’ styles, Grant muses, “Coppola is like a circus ringmaster, where the set is organized chaos,” where Scorsese “is the exact opposite, work[ing] in monastic silence, incredibly quiet and disciplined.”


Surprise Gems: A Brush With Girl Power That Would Impact His Career

Richard E. Grant

Grant says he took the role in Spice World for his daughter. (Photo by © Columbia)

Grant’s journey hasn’t been without its rare bumps, however. “I genuinely thought I would never work again,” he responds plainly after we ask him about Hudson Hawk, a 1991 action-comedy flop starring Bruce Willis. “Because it cost so much money to make, and I think practically closed the studio down. And it was critically annihilated.” The flop, though, has gained something of a cult audience, which shocks the actor. “Oh my god,” he replies when fronted with this. “I assume they’re on drugs.”

Another Rotten role awaited in Spice World, in which Grant plays the buttoned-down manager of the ever-bubbly girl-group phenom. But his agreement to sign on came from an admirable place. “My daughter was eight and saw that I was offered it and said, ‘You have to be in Spice World because then I can meet them.’ So I did, and they were amazing.” Equally amazing: “As a result of being in that, Lena Dunham saw me in that and wrote four episodes of Girls that I was in,” he says, referring to his arc on the zeitgeist-tapping show as Jessa’s druggy chum Jasper. “You know, people were snooty about Spice World when I first did it. But it’s paid dividends.”  


Can You Ever Forgive Me? opened in limited release on October 19, 2019. The Golden Globe Awards will be broadcast on January 6, 2019, on NBC. 

Tag Cloud

Crackle Mindy Kaling halloween movies anthology Awards Tour Comic Book CNN The Arrangement Grammys video on demand Film Nominations doctor who The Purge quibi The Walking Dead Academy Awards National Geographic 2015 dc natural history Pet Sematary American Society of Cinematographers Disney hispanic comiccon period drama Anna Paquin king kong Paramount Network italian renewed TV shows aliens ID Chernobyl child's play miniseries OneApp films franchise slashers green book Alien 72 Emmy Awards black mockumentary jamie lee curtis The Witch Mary poppins 45 politics See It Skip It VOD HBO Max facebook Epix Extras screen actors guild theme song Avengers Turner Classic Movies james bond Television Academy SDCC TV renewals Superheroes San Diego Comic-Con razzies composers Rocky animated Ghostbusters Marvel Teen TV halloween tv Premiere Dates harry potter supernatural Superheroe superman blockbusters witnail Starz Columbia Pictures Apple TV+ psychological thriller Sundance Now Sony Pictures werewolf screenings Dark Horse Comics APB Star Trek Heroines spider-man LGBT indiana jones popular Masterpiece cars Disney Plus based on movie Endgame Podcast ESPN Legendary a nightmare on elm street E! cartoon Logo Set visit DGA what to watch HBO Go Netflix diversity Certified Fresh 2020 YouTube Red scorecard cults disaster finale Reality Competition Martial Arts telelvision docudrama biography dceu Tarantino cinemax archives Marathons Showtime scary movies latino PBS BET emmy awards Awards dogs E3 Reality Western Country Brie Larson cancelled TV shows trailers book toy story The CW BBC One Tubi zero dark thirty TruTV Comics on TV dramedy TCA 2017 football Women's History Month Best and Worst cats mutant 2021 Classic Film Food Network Lucasfilm award winner Esquire FX science fiction FOX GoT best classics universal monsters 24 frames GLAAD El Rey travel Nat Geo BBC America VH1 Rocketman Pride Month rotten movies we love children's TV Watching Series CMT VICE fast and furious foreign Calendar blaxploitation YA Marvel Studios MSNBC deadpool Fantasy stop motion Amazon Prime Paramount RT History sag awards A24 sequel 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Mary Tyler Moore ITV WGN Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt SXSW fresh Star Wars TNT spy thriller festivals concert romance Interview comics australia GIFs justice league TV Land heist movie Holiday comic technology critics venice anime cancelled golden globes Pop YouTube jurassic park french spain Comedy Central Schedule joker crossover free movies 71st Emmy Awards Disney streaming service twilight thriller nfl crime drama boxoffice dark MTV worst Musicals Tumblr Captain marvel PlayStation 2016 romantic comedy crime batman Apple docuseries Amazon Studios President Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Cartoon Network IFC Films Horror Sundance breaking bad transformers Elton John Travel Channel Holidays Peacock New York Comic Con Pop TV sequels Quiz Polls and Games Rom-Com unscripted casting Funimation Musical Rock WarnerMedia war Tomatazos CBS All Access Hallmark TCA First Reviews Britbox teaser 2018 RT21 2019 History spanish language laika toronto Trailer Comedy Infographic Red Carpet Fall TV Disney Channel Opinion Hear Us Out medical drama Character Guide superhero Turner Trivia rotten Super Bowl festival video political drama Film Festival independent satire Television Critics Association cancelled TV series TIFF Thanksgiving Box Office TV One DC streaming service blockbuster Drama FXX book adaptation social media canceled TV shows versus Year in Review BAFTA NYCC 20th Century Fox hidden camera Freeform Pirates godzilla nature The Walt Disney Company PaleyFest Binge Guide Disney+ Disney Plus HBO golden globe awards psycho chucky Amazon zombies Trophy Talk CBS Apple TV Plus Song of Ice and Fire indie talk show Action vampires crime thriller Sundance TV television Baby Yoda revenge 99% monster movies movie TCM new star wars movies BET Awards Shondaland Broadway The Academy ratings Netflix Christmas movies tv talk Biopics Shudder serial killer spanish japanese Photos CW Seed adaptation singing competition game show Black Mirror Pixar Mudbound Discovery Channel Vudu Emmy Nominations Paramount Plus Election Fox Searchlight Kids & Family ViacomCBS Cosplay Creative Arts Emmys prank game of thrones Mary Poppins Returns Exclusive Video true crime Music DC Comics Family asian-american Cannes cancelled television TLC FX on Hulu Mystery elevated horror Hallmark Christmas movies OWN Stephen King cooking die hard directors obituary Ellie Kemper stoner Video Games 21st Century Fox rom-coms Marvel Television robots Black History Month hollywood Syfy reviews Lifetime Christmas movies Spike Winter TV documentary BBC First Look Sci-Fi discovery DirecTV Ovation spinoff Summer parents X-Men women pirates of the caribbean space Spectrum Originals Sneak Peek rt archives LGBTQ Countdown Fox News zombie boxing comedies kong ABC TCA Winter 2020 Warner Bros. sitcom adventure Nickelodeon name the review Toys Emmys Animation 4/20 nbcuniversal binge christmas movies Universal Arrowverse Amazon Prime Video criterion USA Network USA Adult Swim A&E Lionsgate remakes Lifetime kids Walt Disney Pictures hist 93rd Oscars IFC NBC canceled MCU richard e. Grant ghosts all-time Christmas Acorn TV documentaries Bravo kaiju news Spring TV cops YouTube Premium reboot Valentine's Day dragons comic books streaming Crunchyroll sports south america DC Universe TCA Awards series police drama strong female leads worst movies 007 Oscars Hulu Winners historical drama ABC Signature AMC 2017 Writers Guild of America stand-up comedy ABC Family TBS SundanceTV mission: impossible