A longtime character actor known for scene-stealing performances in “Logan,” “Gosford Park” and the cultishly revered 1987 film “Withnail & I,” Richard E. Grant earned his first Golden Globe nomination on Thursday for his contribution to “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
The story of a celebrity biographer (played by fellow nominee Melissa McCarthy) who enlists Grant’s character for help in taking a turn toward deception, the movie was directed by Marielle Heller. Below, Grant talks about the changes “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” brought to his life and being “a puppy let loose in the pet shop” about meeting actors he admires.
How are you doing?
I’m pretty astonished and thrilled. I can’t be cynical about any of this. I’ve been around for 3½ decades doing this, and I’m turning 62 in the spring. Usually the trajectory of an actor’s life after the age of 50, because we’re in such a youth-centric industry, is diminishing returns. So the fact that I went from “Logan” to “Nutcracker” and am currently shooting “Star Wars,” it’s a career the likes of which I couldn’t possibly have anticipated. Marielle taking a chance casting me was an excellent opportunity.
Why do you feel she took a chance in casting you?
The character was an American from Portland, Ore., and so I asked her if I should do an American accent. She said “No, speak as you do.” I said, “Is that because you think I can’t do it?” And she said, “No, I want you to play it as an English person.” She told me it was what she saw me bringing to the part. She had every possible choice who she could have offered the part to — an enormous star, not some English character actor.
Marielle didn’t receive a directing nomination, nor did any female director. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s very hurtful for her, but she is such a generous, kind, compassionate person that she phoned me and she sent me a video message of her walking through Brooklyn — and her delight and joy was undiluted and completely unselfish. She wasn’t at all upset she hasn’t been nominated.
Of course, it’s disappointing when you have two actors in one movie nominated [but not the director]. They didn’t do it by themselves. They had a great director.
On Twitter, you said her casting you in this film has changed your career. How so?
In a way that I couldn’t possibly have anticipated. I want to the Governor’s Ball a couple of weeks ago, and every single person in the room was somebody I had admired since the year dot. Just to be in the room with them was a great thrill for me.
Are you the kind of person who will walk up to someone you admire, or just admire from afar?
Are you insane? I’ll unabashedly go up to people. It’s the only chance I have. The worst they can do is diss you or call security. I went up to everybody from Clint Eastwood to Lady Gaga to Emily Blunt. I was like a puppy let loose in the pet shop.
Did you take selfies with anyone?
Nobody was doing it there, otherwise I would have. I would have loved to. Do people do that at the Golden Globes?
Maybe. It’s a pretty alcohol-heavy environment.
I’m allergic to alcohol, so I’ll be the most sober person in the room blaming my selfies on that.