Richard E. Grant
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Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant
Richard E. Grant 2018.jpg
Grant in 2018
Richard Grant Esterhuysen

(1957-05-05) 5 May 1957 (age 62)
ResidenceLondon, England
NationalityEswatini, British [1]
Other namesRichard Grant
Years active1980-present
Joan Washington (m. 1986)

Richard E. Grant (born Richard Grant Esterhuysen;[2][3] 5 May 1957) is an English actor.[1] He made his film debut as Withnail in the comedy Withnail and I (1987) and has had prominent roles in films such as How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989), Hudson Hawk (1991), The Player (1992), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993), Spice World (1997), Gosford Park (2001), The Iron Lady (2011) and Logan (2017). He will appear in the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

He won several critics' awards and was nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting performance as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018).

Early life

Grant was born Richard Grant Esterhuysen in Mbabane, Swaziland (now Eswatini). He is the son of Leonne and Henrik Esterhuysen, who was head of education for the British government administration in the British Protectorate of Swaziland.[4][5][6] He has English, Dutch/Afrikaner, and German ancestry.[7] He has a younger brother, Stuart, a tour guide in Johannesburg, from whom he is estranged; Grant has stated that they 'never had any relationship'.[6][8]

As a boy, Grant went to primary school at St Mark's, a local government school in Mbabane that only recently had become racially integrated. When Grant was 10, he witnessed his mother commit adultery in the back seat of a car with his father's best friend, which subsequently led to his parents' divorce.[9] This event inspired Grant to keep a daily diary, which he has continued to do ever since.[8] Grant used to wear a watch on each wrist, one given to him by his dying father, permanently set on Swaziland time.[6][9] He is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Swaziland.[1]

Grant attended secondary school at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, an independent school just outside Mbabane, where he was a day scholar. Grant studied English and drama at the University of Cape Town. He adopted his stage name when he moved to Britain as an adult and registered with Equity.


Grant was a member of the Space Theatre Company in Cape Town before moving to London in 1982. He later stated, "I grew up in Swaziland when it was mired in a 1960s sensibility. The kind of English spoken where I grew up was a period English sound and when I came to England people said, 'how strange'. Charles Sturridge, who directed Brideshead Revisited for TV, said, 'you speak English like someone from the 1950s'."[10]

Grant at the 2007 BAFTA Awards

Grant's first film role was the perpetually inebriated title character in Withnail and I (1987), which is considered a classic. Following this film, Grant started appearing in Hollywood films, quickly establishing himself as a powerful character actor in a wide array of films, from blockbuster studio movies to small independent projects. Over the past 20 years, Grant has had strong supporting roles in the films Henry & June, L.A. Story, The Player, The Age of Innocence, The Portrait of a Lady, Spice World, Gosford Park, Bright Young Things, and Penelope.

While filming L.A. Story with Steve Martin, the pair communicated by fax in what became for both a hilarious dialogue: "I kept these faxes, which grew to a stack more than 2 inches thick, because they entertained me, and because I thought they were valuable aesthetic chunks from a screeching mind, a stream-of-consciousness faucet spewing sentences - sometimes a mile long - none of it rewritten, and bearing just the right amount of acid and alkaline."[11]

In 1995, Grant starred as the titular character in Peter Capaldi's short film Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life. The film won the 1995 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film. In 1996, he portrayed a hilarious Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Trevor Nunn's film of Twelfth Night. He released a single and accompanying video "To Be Or Not To Be" with Orpheus in 1997.

Grant has twice portrayed the Doctor from Doctor Who, both outside the main continuity. In the comedy sketch Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, he portrayed a version of the Tenth Doctor, referred to as the Quite Handsome Doctor. He also voiced a version of the Ninth Doctor for the BBC original animated webcast Scream of the Shalka. The latter had intended to be the official Ninth Doctor prior to the revival of the TV series.

Grant made his first official Doctor Who appearance in the 2012 Christmas special, titled "The Snowmen", in which he plays the villain, Walter Simeon. During the episode Simeon is erased from his body and it is taken over by the Great Intelligence, voiced in that episode by Ian McKellen until the takeover. The Great Intelligence is one of the Second Doctor's most infamous villains and, was last seen in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. Grant reprises the role in "The Bells of Saint John" and in the series 7 finale, "The Name of the Doctor".

Grant as The Voice for 2+2+2 at Heavy Entertainment, London.

On 1 December 2006, Grant turned real-life investigator when, with the help of the BBC's Newsnight, he exposed a $98 million scam to sell a bogus AIDS cure.[12][13]

Grant appeared as "The Voice" in 2+2+2 at American Nights at The King's Head Theatre, from 3 to 29 July 2007, and in 2008 co-starred in the London-based comedy Filth and Wisdom. On 22 November 2007, he gave a keynote speech at North London Collegiate School in north London as part of their Performing Arts Centre Opening Festival,[14] and presented the 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards.[15]

In 2008, he made his musical theatre debut with Opera Australia, playing the role of Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, at the Theatre Royal, Sydney, a role he reprised in 2017 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 2009, he played Alain Reille in Yasmina Reza's one-act play God of Carnage at the Theatre Royal, Bath: and subsequently at Cheltenham, Canterbury, Richmond, Brighton and Milton Keynes.[16]

In 2010 he made an appearance in a music video, when short lived Bristol band The Chemists hired him to appear in their video for "This City"; the band split the same year. This appearance also followed up his previous involvement with the band the year before, in which he spoke the lyrics to "This City" to background music, as part of the intro and outro tracks on their only album Theories of Dr Lovelock.

Grant at the premiere of Can You Ever Forgive Me?, October 2018

Grant was a mentor on the British Airways Great Britons Programme.[17] In March 2013 Grant starred as intelligence analyst Brian Jones in David Morley's drama The Iraq Dossier, with Peter Firth, Anton Lesser, David Caves, and Lindsay Duncan. It recounted the story of how British Ministry of Defence Intelligence expert Jones had tried to warn that his government's September Dossier on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction was inaccurate.[18] In 2014, Grant was cast on the HBO series Girls because Lena Dunham saw him in Spice World.[19]

On 9 May 2015 Grant gave a reading at VE Day 70: A Party to Remember in Horse Guards Parade, London. In 2016 Grant joined the HBO series Game of Thrones in Season 6 as Izembaro.[20]

In 2017, he starred as Zander Rice, the main antagonist of Logan, opposite Hugh Jackman, in which he gained positive critical reception for his performance.

In July 2018, Lucasfilm announced that Grant would appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.[21] That same year, Grant's critically lauded performance as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), earned him Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. The part also won Grant a New York Film Critics Circle Award and several other critics awards.[22][23][24]


Grant wrote and directed the 2005 film Wah-Wah, loosely based on his own childhood experiences. A screenwriter recommended he write a screenplay after reading Grant's memoirs of his Withnail and I experience. The film took him over seven years to complete,[25] and starred Nicholas Hoult in the lead role, with Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Julie Walters and Emily Watson. Grant kept a diary of the experience, later published as a book (The Wah-Wah Diaries). The book received positive reviews from critics, many of whom were impressed by the honesty of the tale, especially in regard to his difficult relationship with the "inexperienced" producer Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar.[26][27][28]

Grant stated in subsequent interviews that she was a "control freak out of control", and that he would "never see her again as long as [he] live[s]."[25][29] In a BBC interview, he again mentioned his "disastrous" relationship with Mention-Schaar. He related that he had received only five emails from her in the last two months of pre-production, and that she rarely turned up on the set at all. She failed to obtain clearance firstly for song rights and secondly to film in Swaziland. For the last infraction, Grant was eventually forced to meet with the King of Eswatini to seek clemency.[30] During an interview with an Australian chat show, he mentioned that Wah-Wah was not released in France, and as a result, his producer did not make money out of it.[31]

Personal life

Grant in London, 2014

Grant married voice coach Joan Washington in 1986 and has one daughter with her, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom. Grant is a teetotaller. His body has an intolerance of alcohol, having no enzymes in the blood to metabolise it.[32] If he does drink alcohol, he can keep it down for 10 minutes and is then violently sick for 24 hours afterward.[33] After casting him as the alcoholic Withnail, director Bruce Robinson made Grant drink a bottle of champagne and half a bottle of vodka during the course of a night so that he had experienced the sensation of being drunk.[31] At age 12 he "developed a rhapsodic crush" on Barbra Streisand and remains a fan. He has done a tour of Streisand's New York, visiting her early home, her high school, and the Village Vanguard, among other places.[34]

In October 2008, he told The Times that he is an atheist.[35] He is an avid supporter of Premier League football club West Ham United. In April 2014, Grant launched his new unisex perfume, JACK, exclusively at Liberty of Regent Street, London.[36] Grant runs the perfume business in collaboration with his daughter.[37]



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Withnail and I Withnail
1987 Hidden City Brewster
1989 How to Get Ahead in Advertising Denis Dimbleby Bagley
1989 Warlock Giles Redferne
1990 Mountains of the Moon Larry Oliphant
1990 Killing Dad Ali Berg
1990 Henry & June Hugo Guiler
1991 L.A. Story Roland Mackey
1991 Hudson Hawk Darwin Mayflower
1992 The Player Tom Oakley
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Jack Seward
1993 The Age of Innocence Larry Lefferts
1993 Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life Franz Kafka Short film
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Cort Romney
1995 Jack and Sarah Jack
1996 The Cold Light of Day Victor Marek
1996 The Portrait of a Lady Lord Warburton
1996 Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Sir Andrew Aguecheek
1997 The Serpent's Kiss James Fitzmaurice
1997 Keep the Aspidistra Flying Gordon Comstock
1997 Food of Love Alex Salmon
1997 Spice World Clifford
1998 St. Ives Major Farquhar Chevening
1999 The Match Gorgeous Gus
2000 The Miracle Maker John the Baptist Voice
2000 The Little Vampire Frederick Sackville-Bagg
2001 Hildegarde Wolf
2001 Gosford Park George
2003 Monsieur N. Hudson Lowe
2003 Bright Young Things Father Rothschild
2004 Tooth Jarvis Jarvis
2004 The Story of an African Farm Bonaparte Blenkins
2005 Wah-Wah Writer and director
2005 Corpse Bride Lord Barkis Bittern Voice
2005 Colour Me Kubrick Jasper
2006 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Preston Voice
2006 Penelope Franklin Wilhern
2007 Always Crashing in the Same Car James Booth
2008 Filth and Wisdom Professor Flynn
2008 The Garden of Eden Colonel Philip Boyle
2009 Cuckoo Professor Julius Greengrass
2009 Love Hurts Ben Bingham
2009 Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva David Voice (English Version)
2010 Jackboots on Whitehall Campbell Babbitt Voice
2010 1st Night Adam Drummond
2010 The Nutcracker in 3D Father
2011 Foster Mr Potts A.K.A. Angel in the House
2011 Horrid Henry: The Movie Vic Van Wrinkle
2011 How to Stop Being a Loser Ian
2011 The Iron Lady Michael Heseltine
2012 Zambezia Cecil Voice
2012 Kath & Kimderella Alain
2013 About Time Lawyer in Play Uncredited cameo
2013 Khumba Bradley Voice
2013 Dom Hemingway Dickie Black
2014 Queen and Country Major Cross
2016 Jackie William Walton
2016 Their Finest Roger Swain
2017 Logan Zander Rice
2017 The Hitman's Bodyguard Seifert
2018 Can You Ever Forgive Me? Jack Hock Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Nominated--Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated--BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated--Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated--Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
Nominated--Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
2018 The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Shiver
2019 Palm Beach Billy
2019 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Allegiant General Pryde Post-production
2020 The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Seifert Post-production
2020 Everybody's Talking About Jamie Hugo Battersby Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Sweet Sixteen Anton Episode: "Episode Six"
1985-1989 Screen Two Moonee Livingstone / David Dunhill 2 episodes
1988 Codename: Kyril Sculby 4 episodes
1993 Great Performances George Holly Episode: "Suddenly Last Summer"
1993 The Legends of Treasure Island Long John Silver Voice
8 episodes
1994 Absolutely Fabulous Justin Episode: "Hospital"
1994 Hard Times James Harthouse 3 episodes
1996 Karaoke Nick Balmer 4 episodes
1996 Cold Lazarus Nick Balmer 2 episodes
1997 A Royal Scandal King George IV Television film
1997-1998 Captain Star Captain Jim Star Voice
14 episodes
1999-2000 The Scarlet Pimpernel Sir Percy Blakeney / The Scarlet Pimpernel 6 episodes
1999 Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death The Conceited Doctor Television special
1999 Let Them Eat Cake Monsieur Vigée-Lebrun Episode: "The Portrait"
1999 Trial & Retribution III Stephen Warrington 2 episodes
1999 A Christmas Carol Bob Cratchit Television film
2002 Sherlock: Case of Evil Mycroft Holmes Television film
2002 The Hound of the Baskervilles Jack Stapleton Television film
2003 Posh Nosh Simon Marchmont 8 episodes
2004 Frasier Stephen Moon Episode: "Goodnight, Seattle"
2004 90 Days in Hollywood Narrator Documentary
2004 The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody Narrator Documentary
2005 Home Farm Twins Paul Baker Unknown episodes
2006 Above and Beyond Don Bennett 2 episodes
2006 That'll Teach 'Em: Boys Versus Girls Narrator 5 episodes
2007 Agatha Christie's Marple Raymond West Episode: "Nemesis"
2007 Dalziel and Pascoe Lee Knight 2 episodes
2008 Mumbai Calling Benedict T. Harlow Episode: "Good Sellers"
2009 Freezing Richard Episode #1.1
2011 The Crimson Petal and the White Dr Curlew 4 episodes
2011 Rab C. Nesbitt Chingford Steel Episode: "Broke"
2011 Rev. Marcus Episode #2.5
2012-2014 Richard E. Grant's Hotel Secrets Himself (host)[38] 14 episodes
2012 Playhouse Presents Stephen / Tony Episode: "The Other Woman"
2012 The Fear Seb Whiting 3 episodes
2012 The History of Safari With Richard E Grant Himself (host) Documentary
2012-2013 Doctor Who Dr Simeon / The Great Intelligence 3 episodes
2013 The Riviera: A History in Pictures Himself (host) 2 episodes
2014 Girls Jasper 4 episodes
2014 Downton Abbey Simon Bricker 4 episodes
2014 Psychobitches Matthew Hopkins Episode #2.6
2015 Dig Ian Margrove 9 episodes
2015 Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked Wellington Documentary
2015 Jekyll and Hyde Sir Roger Bulstrode 9 episodes
2016 Game of Thrones Izembaro 3 episodes
2016 The Last Dragonslayer Dragon Voice
Television film
2018 Hang Ups Leonard Conrad 5 episodes
2019 A Series of Unfortunate Events The Man with a Beard but No Hair 3 episodes
2019 Tuca & Bertie Holland Voice
4 episodes
2020 Dispatches from Elsewhere Octavio Upcoming series


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka The Doctor
2007 George's Marvellous Medicine Narrator Audiobook
2007 The Pillars of the Earth Narrator Audiobook
2007 World Without End Narrator Audiobook
2008 My Fair Lady Henry Higgins Theatre Royal, Sydney
2010 "This City" Human cyborg The Chemists music video
2013 Fuck: An Irreverent History of the F-Word Narrator Audiobook
2017 My Fair Lady Henry Higgins Lyric Opera of Chicago

Awards and nominations


  • The Wah-Wah Diaries: The Making of a Film. 2006. ISBN 0-330-44196-5 (hardcover).
  • With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant. ISBN 0-87951-828-6 (hardcover). ISBN 0-87951-935-5 (paperback).
  • By Design: A Hollywood Novel. Picador, 1999. ISBN 0-330-36829-X (10). ISBN 978-0-330-36829-2 (13).


  1. ^ a b c "Busy Making Other Plans: Richard E. Grant". Stop Smiling. No. 26. 21 June 2006. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ "Star Profile: Richard E Grant". Evening Times. 5 June 2003. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ "The World According To Grant". The Evening Standard magazine. 17 January 2003. Retrieved 2019 – via
  4. ^ "Richard E. Grant Biography (1957-)". Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ "Richard E. Grant Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 17 May 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Richard E Grant: At 11 I caught my mother cheating with dad's best friend". Evening Standard. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Didcock, Barry (30 April 2006). "A life in pictures: Richard E Grant not only made a film of his diaries, he kept a diary during filming". Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 7 November 2012. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ a b Gilbert, Gerard (29 May 2006). "Richard E Grant: Welcome to my family". The Independent. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Richard E. Grant". Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. 19 June 2006. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 2006.
  10. ^ Lawson, Valerie (4 June 2008). "Interview with Richard E Grant". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  11. ^ Martin, Steve (26 September 2015). "'A slag-fest collusion': Steve Martin on his friend Richard E Grant". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018.
  12. ^ Jones, Meirion (1 December 2006). "Swazi 'Aids cure' scam uncovered". BBC News. Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ "Goat serum touted as Aids cure". BBC News. 1 December 2006. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ Miles, Helena. "Richard E Grant visit..." North London Collegiate School. Archived from the original on 11 May 2008.
  15. ^ Nathan, John (6 February 2008). "London Hairspray Breaks Record With 11 Olivier Award Nominations". Playbill. Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ "Richard Chats About God of Carnage". 14 February 2009. Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ "The Dove.. and BA Great Britons projects take flight". British Airways Media Centre. 3 April 2012. Archived from the original on 20 March 2014. Retrieved 2018.
  18. ^ Reynolds, Gillian (6 March 2013). "Drones Dossiers And How Iraq Changed The World". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ Blistein, Jon (15 November 2018). "Richard E. Grant Talks Gifts 'Spice World' Role Keeps Giving on 'Corden'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ @WatchersOTWall (7 September 2015). "Richard E. Grant joining the cast of Game of Thrones!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "Star Wars: Episode IX Cast Announced". 27 July 2018. Retrieved 2019.
  22. ^ "Winners & Nominees 2019". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 2018.
  23. ^ "2018 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved 2018.
  24. ^ "Nominations Announced for the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®". Screen Actors Guild. Retrieved 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Wah-Wah Interview - "I've had seven birthdays..."". Archived from the original on 30 June 2009. Retrieved 2008.
  26. ^ Grant, Richard E. (21 April 2006). The Wah-Wah Diaries: The Making of a Film. London, UK: Picador. ISBN 978-0-33044-196-4.
  27. ^ Ecott, Tim (5 May 2006). "Review: The Wah-Wah Diaries by Richard E Grant". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018.
  28. ^ Boncza-Tomaszewski, Tom (17 September 2006). "Paperbacks: The Wah-Wah Diaries: The making of a film". The Independent. Archived from the original on 30 June 2009. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ Didcock, Barry (30 April 2006). "A Life In Pictures". Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 2008 – via
  30. ^ "Error 404 : Not Found". BBC Media. Retrieved 2018.[dead link]
  31. ^ a b Network Ten (21 October 2007). "Richard E. Grant Interview". Retrieved 2018.
  32. ^ Gross, Terry; Grant, Richard E. (13 December 2018). "Richard E. Grant Barely Survived Childhood. Now He's Thriving As An Actor". National Public Radio. United States. Retrieved 2019.
  33. ^ "Five Minutes With: Richard E Grant". BBC News. 11 December 2010. Retrieved 2019.
  34. ^ Syme, Rachel (11 February 2019). "Richard E. Grant Hearts Barbra Streisand". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019.
  35. ^ "Coming Out as Atheist: Richard E. Grant". Retrieved 2019.
  36. ^ "Jack by Richard E Grant". Big Retrieved 2018.
  37. ^ Stadlen, Matthew (17 December 2015). "Richard E. Grant: Why my father's alcoholism has made me love Christmas". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2019.
  38. ^ "Richard E Grant's Hotel Secrets". Sky UK. Retrieved 2012.

External links

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