Richard E. Grant

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Richard E. Grant
BAFTA 2007 (387046786).jpg
BornRichard Grant Esterhuysen
(1957-05-05) 5 May 1957 (age 57)
Mbabane, Swaziland
ResidenceLondon, England
Other namesRichard Grant
OccupationActor, screenwriter, director
Years active1987–present
Spouse(s)Joan Washington (1986–present)
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For the American actor, see Richard Gant.
Richard E. Grant
BAFTA 2007 (387046786).jpg
BornRichard Grant Esterhuysen
(1957-05-05) 5 May 1957 (age 57)
Mbabane, Swaziland
ResidenceLondon, England
Other namesRichard Grant
OccupationActor, screenwriter, director
Years active1987–present
Spouse(s)Joan Washington (1986–present)

Richard E. Grant (born Richard Grant Esterhuysen;,[1][2] 5 May 1957) is a British actor, screenwriter, and director.[3] He came to public attention in 1987 for playing Withnail in the film Withnail and I, and achieved international recognition as John Seward in the 1992 blockbuster Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Early life[edit]

Grant was born in Mbabane, Swaziland. His father, Henrik Esterhuysen, was head of education for the British government administration in the British Protectorate of Swaziland.[4][5] His father had British and Dutch/Afrikaner ancestry and his mother was of English and German descent.[6][7]

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

Grant attended secondary school at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa (UWCSA), 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'."[11]

Grant's first film role was the perpetually inebriated title character in Withnail and I, which has established a large cult following. Following his film Withnail and I, Grant began appearing in Hollywood films, and quickly established himself as a powerful character actor in a wide array of films, from blockbuster studio movies to small independent projects. Over the past twenty 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.

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 the revival of the TV series. In August, 2012, the BBC announced that Grant would join the cast of Doctor Who for "The Snowmen", in which he plays a villain, Dr. Walter Simeon.[12] He appeared again in the following episode, "The Bells of Saint John" as the Great Intelligence, one of the Second Doctor's most infamous villains and, prior to "The Snowmen" (played by Ian McKellen), was last seen in The Abominable Snowmen and The Web of Fear. Grant reprises the role 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 BBC Newsnight, he exposed a $98 million scam to sell a bogus AIDS cure.[13][14]

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 also recently co-starred in the London-based comedy Filth and Wisdom, a film which marks the directorial debut of pop singer Madonna.

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,[15] and presented the 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards.[16]

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.

Grant is also an author, having written an autobiography and a novel called By Design that is set in Hollywood.

Richard E. Grant is a mentor on the British Airways Great Britons Programme,[17] and will mentor a British talent to write a script that will be produced into a short film and shown on BA flights and at the pre-opening of the Olympic Games ceremony.


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,[18] 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.[19][20][21]

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]."[22][23] 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 actually film in Swaziland. For the last infraction Grant was eventually forced to meet with the King of Swaziland to seek clemency.[24]

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.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Grant married voice coach Joan Washington in 1986 and has one daughter with her (Olivia) and a stepson (Tom).

Grant is a teetotaller. He is intolerant to alcohol, having no enzymes in the blood to metabolise it. If he does drink alcohol, he can keep it down for 10 minutes and is then violently sick for 24 hours afterward.[26] 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 experience of the sensation.[25]

He also appeared on BBC1's show Saturday Kitchen on 14 July 2007, where he stated he detests dairy products, while his favourite food is giant prawns on a bed of rice. In October 2008, he told The Times that he is an atheist.[27] He is an avid follower of West Ham United, and appeared on Sky Sports' Soccer AM to show his support for the team on the morning of the 2006 FA Cup Final.

In April 2014, Grant launched his new unisex perfume, JACK, exclusively at Liberty of Regent Street. Anya Hindmarch is credited with the conception, Lyn Harris of Miller-Harris helped him create the scent [28] and Perry Haydn Taylor's big fish created the website.[29] The perfume has top notes of lime, marijuana and mandarin.[30]



1987Withnail and IWithnail
1989WarlockGiles Redferne
1989How to Get Ahead in AdvertisingDenis Dimbleby Bagley
1989Killing DadAli Berg
1990Mountains of the MoonLarry Oliphant
1990Henry & JuneHugo Guiler
1991Hudson HawkDarwin MayflowerNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1991L.A. StoryRoland Mackey
1992The PlayerTom Oakley
1992Bram Stoker's DraculaDr. Jack Seward
1993The Age of InnocenceLarry Lefferts
1993Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful LifeFranz KafkaShort film
1994Prêt-à-PorterCort RomneyNational Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
1995Jack and SarahJack
1995PocahontasPercyVoice only
1996The Portrait of a LadyLord Warburton
1996Twelfth Night: Or What You WillSir Andrew Aguecheek
1996The Cold Light of DayVictor Marek
1997The Serpent's KissJames Fitzmaurice
1997Keep the Aspidistra FlyingGordon Comstock
1997Spiceworld: The MovieClifford
1998St. IvesMajor Farquhar Chevening
1999The MatchGorgeous Gus
1999A Christmas CarolBob Crachit
2000The Little VampireFrederick Sackville-Bagg
2000The Miracle MakerJohn the BaptistVoice
2001Gosford ParkGeorgeBroadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cast
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Satellite Special Achievement Award – Ensemble Cast
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
2002The Hound of the BaskervillesJack Stapleton
2003Monsieur N.Hudson Lowe
2003Bright Young ThingsFather Rothschild
2004The Story of an African FarmBonaparte Blenkins
2004ToothJarvis Jarvis
2005Wah-WahWriter, director
2005Corpse BrideLord Barkis BitternVoice
2005Colour Me KubrickJasper
2006Garfield: A Tail of Two KittiesPrestonVoice
2007Always Crashing in the Same CarJames Booth
2008PenelopeFranklin Wilhern
2008The Garden of EdenColonel Philip Boyle
2008Filth and WisdomProfessor Flynn
2009Love HurtsBen Bingham
2010CuckooProfessor Julius Greengrass
2010First NightAdam
2010Jackboots on WhitehallCampbell BabbittVoice
2010The Nutcracker in 3DFather
2011Horrid Henry: The MovieVic Van Wrinkle
2011The Iron LadyMichael Heseltine
2012FosterMr. Potts
2012Kath & KimderellaAlain
2013Dom HemingwayDickie
2014Queen and Country


1985Screen TwoMoonee LivingstoneEpisode: "Honest, Decent & True"
1988Codename: KyrilSculby
1995Absolutely FabulousJustin
1996KaraokeNick Balmer
1996A Royal ScandalKing George IV
1997Captain StarCaptain Jim Star
1998–2000The Scarlet PimpernelSir Percy Blakeney
The Scarlet Pimpernel
1999Trial & Retribution IIIStephen Warrington
1999Let Them Eat CakeMonsieur Vigée-LebrunEpisode: "The Portrait"
1999Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal DeathThe Conceited Doctor
2001The Kumars at No. 42HimselfEpisode: "Richard E. Grant and Michael Parkinson"
2002Sherlock: Case of EvilMycroft Holmes
2004Posh NoshSimon Marchmont
2004FrasierStephen MoonEpisode: "Goodnight, Seattle"
200490 Days in HollywoodNarrator
2004The Story of Bohemian RhapsodyNarrator
2005Home Farm TwinsPaul Baker
2006Above and BeyondDon Bennett
2007Dalziel and PascoeLee Knight
2007Mumbai CallingBenedict T. Harlow
2007Marple: NemesisRaymond West
2011The Crimson Petal and the WhiteDr. Curlew
2011A Quiet Word With ...Himself[31]
2011Rab C NesbittChingford Steel
2012Richard E. Grant's Hotel SecretsHimself[32]
2012The FearSeb Whiting
2012The History of Safari With Richard E GrantHimself
2012–2013Doctor WhoDr. Simeon / The Great Intelligence3 Episodes: "The Snowmen", "The Bells of Saint John" and "The Name of the Doctor"
2013The French Riviera: A History in PicturesHimself[33]Presenter
2014Downton AbbeySimon BrickerFour Episodes


1993The Legends of Treasure IslandLong John Silver
2003Doctor Who: Scream of the ShalkaThe Shalka Doctor
2013Fuck: An Irreverent History of the F-WordNarratorAudiobook
2013The Pillars of the EarthNarratorAudiobook
World Without EndNarratorAudiobook
Pinocchio's Daring JourneyStromboli

Richard E. Grant has been the host in a series on the great hotels of the world. He visited famous hotels and interviewed members of the staff, famous costumers and owners.[34]



  1. ^ "STAR PROFILE Richard E Grant". Evening Times. 5 June 2003. 
  2. ^ The World According To Grant, The Evening Standard Magazine - Friday 17th January, 2003
  3. ^ Busy Making Other Plans: Richard E. Grant,, 21 June 2006.
  4. ^ Richard E. Grant Biography (1957– )
  5. ^ Richard E. Grant Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ "Richard E Grant: At 11 I caught my mother cheating with dad's best friend". Daily Mail (London). 20 September 2007. 
  8. ^ "Richard E. Grant" (19 June 2006) Enough Rope with Andrew Denton
  9. ^ "Richard E Grant: Welcome to my family". The Independent (London). 29 May 2006. 
  10. ^ ENOUGH ROPE with Andrew Denton – episode 108: Richard E. Grant (19/06/2006)
  11. ^ Interview with Valerie Lawson of the Sydney Morning Herald on 04/06/08.
  12. ^ Richard E Grant To Play Doctor Who Villain, MTV News, 2012-08-06
  13. ^ Swazi 'Aids cure' scam uncovered, BBC Newsnight.
  14. ^ "Richard E Grant investigates the AIDS scam", Newsnight, 1 December 2006.
  15. ^ North London Collegiate School – an independent day school for girls from the ages of 4 to 18
  16. ^ "Playbill News: London Hairspray Breaks Record With 11 Olivier Award Nominations".
  17. ^ British Airways – Great Britons
  18. ^ Wah-Wah Interview – "I've had seven birthdays..."
  19. ^ – The Wah-Wah Diaries
  20. ^ The Guardian – Books – Wah-Wah Diaries review
  21. ^ The Independent – Books – Wah-Wah Diaries review
  22. ^ Richard E Grant – Wah-Wah interview
  23. ^ The Sun Herald Interview – Wah-Wah
  24. ^ BBC Interview with Richard E. Grant – Stand Alone Player
  25. ^ a b Interview with 9am on Australia's TEN network – REG
  26. ^ "Five Minutes With: Richard E Grant". BBC News. 11 December 2010. 
  27. ^ "Coming Out as Atheist: Richard E. Grant" (4 Nov 2005) National Secular Society
  28. ^ "Diary of a Perfumed Ponce Part 6 Richard E. Grant (Or the A–Z of how I got set up in the Scent business)" (March 2013) Jack au de Parfum
  29. ^ "Jack by Richard E Grant" (2013) Big Fish, London SW10
  30. ^ "Jack", For Her and for Him has top notes of lime, marijuana and mandarin, heart notes of clove, pepper and nutmeg, base notes of oud, vetiver, white musk, tobacco absolute and olibanum resin.
  31. ^ "A Quiet Word With Richard E. Grant". Official website. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  32. ^ "Richard E Grant's Hotel Secrets". Official website. British Sky Broadcasting. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  33. ^ "The Riviera: A History in Pictures". BBC. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  34. ^ Sky TV Accessed 20 July 2014

External links[edit]