Born in Swaziland, Richard E Grant worked in theater in Cape Town before moving to England. He had his film debut in the comedy Withnail and I. He received critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for his performance as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?.
What is your earliest memory?
The magic smell of Johnson’s baby powder.
When and where were you happiest?
Spring 2020, during lockdown. The best weather imaginable, all of our family together in a cottage in the Cotswolds. Perfection.
What is your biggest fear?
I’m a natural worrier, so ease your worries by making lists and ticking them off when done.
What are your best points and your worst points?
Impatience and boundless curiosity and enthusiasm.
What trait makes you most depressed in other people?
Brigade ‘could have / should have / would have’.
What is your biggest insecurity?
Strive to be good enough.
Who would you most like to go drinking with?
Barbra Streisand, of course!
Which fictional character do you identify the most?
White rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Always chasing his tail and being super curious.
What is your most precious possession?
Truly seeing and loving my late wife, Joan, for 38 unforgettable years.
What is your greatest joy?
Eat an entire Christmas pudding once a month, guilt-free.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
“You have no hope of becoming a professional actor.”
When was the last time you cried, and why?
My wife’s first anniversary and when my memoir about her became a bestseller. Both bitter and sweet.
Who will play you in the movie of your life?
Herman Munster or Frankenstein’s Monster. Both have foreheads for it.
Do you believe in a god?
I do not. I believe in the here and now. We only have one life, so I’m making the most of it.
What is your favorite word?
Welcome! If you repeat it enough, it sounds like a foreign word.
What was the last TV show you binge-watched?
Married at first sight. Hilarious and horrifying in equal measure.
What is your closest brush to the law?
My car was stolen and used to attack a cash machine. The whole group was caught and the detective spent half an hour giving me all the details. Impressive.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Never give up.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Muscles, like I never had, and able to fly.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Trying to exchange an old wooden chair for a new wooden chair, went with my mother-in-law.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
When I was unemployed in 1985, I painted a brick red and white. The paint doesn’t stick and it looks like that scene from Carrie, and my wife guided me through it. It took three days and many tons of Nitromors.
Before your death, your late wife advised you to go find happiness every day. What did you do yesterday to get there?
It was her last gift to my daughter and me. A mantra to cross the abyss of grief and allow to experience joy without guilt. Running four miles in the park every morning is instant happiness.
What is your favorite role?
Withnail and I – great script, lifelong friendship with the cast and Bruce Robinson, writer and director, and my calling card for almost every next role.
You have an unusual porridge recipe. Please share!
Insurrection. Boil oats in water. Crush cranberry juice to disinfect and a spoonful of stewed fruit or strawberry jam to make the medicine less effective.
What song would you like to play at your funeral?
The wedding by Abdullah Ibrahim.
Richard E Grant’s memoir, ‘A Bag of Happiness’, is published by Gallery Books. An evening with Richard E Grant takes place at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on 20 October. nch.ie
https://www.independent.ie/life/richard-e-grant-my-wife-gave-my-daughter-and-me-a-mantra-for-navigating-the-abyss-of-grief-and-permission-to-experience-joy-without-guilt-42062230.html Richard E Grant: ‘My wife gave my daughter and I a spell to cross the abyss of grief and allow to experience joy without guilt’