After more than three decades in the film industry and appearances in over 100 movies, Richard E. Grant gained A-List celebrity status in a whirlwind 12 months that began with an Oscar nomination and ended with a role in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
It all started with his role in a true-crime dark comedy called Can You Ever Forgive Me?. He played the role of Jack Hock, the fence who would negotiate better prices for the letters from deceased authors that were either stolen or forged by the main character of the film.
He did such a good job that, at the tender age of 61, he was rewarded with a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He was so giddy about the news, he went straight to his first-ever home in London and recorded a charming video that he posted on Twitter.
Am levitating at this astonishing news. Thank you to @TheAcademy for this nomination in such incredible company. I’m indebted to so many people but most of all @melissamccarthy & Marielle Heller @cyefm ❤️@SearchlightUK pic.twitter.com/CIdJSMLkj1
— Richard E. Grant (@RichardEGrant) January 22, 2019
His performance in Can You Forgive Me?, the subsequent Oscar nomination and his very sweet reaction video suddenly launched Grant to a level of fame he had not experienced in more than 30 years in the film industry to that point. Grant’s résumé is more varied than most professional actors and encompasses everything from Spice World to Logan and Doctor Who.
Richard E. Grant even featured in an episode of Game of Thrones, one of the most popular television series of all time with 132 Emmy nominations nad 47 wins. A show that was so influential it spawned merchandise like the Ulysse Nardine wristwatch that sold for $10 500 and the $30 000 replica Iron Throne. There is even an official Game of Thrones slot game available at sites from the online casinos South Africa listing like the Kassu casino. One would’ve thought, if anything, it would’ve been his appearance on Game of Thrones that launched his celebrity.
Grant was so taken aback by the sudden fame he often came across as a star-struck fan on the plethora of chat shows, Hollywood luncheons, and awards ceremonies that he was now being invited to. While his self-deprecating approach to meeting other celebrities won him countless new fans on social media, it was so pronounced that some critics felt like he was putting on an act specifically to win over the internet. Esquire’s Olivia Ovenden even claimed he was “running around like an unabashed golden ticket winner”, in reference to the way the winning children behaved in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
He wasn’t the only southern African to be making waves in Hollywood , and most people saw his antics as genuine and heartfelt joy at experiencing a whirlwind celebrity he never expected to have after three decades and over 100 films in the industry. “That is the beauty of what he has done. He comes across as incredibly, unfashionably enthusiastic. He’s embraced it. And I think people have been caught up with the joy of what he has been experiencing,” said publicist Charles McDonald.
According to Grant, he just couldn’t believe his luck. “It was an unfettered wide-eyed-in-Babylon delight. I think because of where I grew up and the circumstances in which I grew up, the good fortune that has come my way has happened in the twilight zone of my life career-wise is so beyond anything that I could have imagined that I can’t help but feel celebratory about it. So it’s undiluted delight – and that pisses some people off because they think it can’t be genuine. I’m not a good enough actor to do that.”
Grant isn’t planning on slowing down any time soon now that he has finally hit the big time. He’s been filming with Disney+ for an unnamed role in its upcoming mini-series Loki, he also has roles in at least two other films set for release in 2021 and is involved in a secret project behind the camera as a director.
While his big break may have come in the twilight of his career, the Swaziland-born actor certainly isn’t wasting any time making the most of it.