Richard E. Grant

Richard E. Grant

Birth name: Richard Grant Esterhuysen
Born: May 5, 1957
Age: 67
Birthplace: Mbabane, Swaziland
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Richard E. Grant (born Richard Grant Esterhuysen; 5 May 1957) is a Swazi-born English actor, screenwriter, and director. He came to public attention in 1987 for playing Withnail in the film Withnail and I, and achieved recognition as John Seward in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula. He is also known for his role as Izembaro in the sixth season of the HBO series Game of Thrones.


Early life

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

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. This event inspired Grant to keep a daily diary, which he has continued to do ever since. Grant wears a watch on each wrist, one given to him by his dying father, permanently set on Swaziland time.

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'."

Grant's first film role was the perpetually inebriated title character in Withnail and I, which has established a large cult following. 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 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.

While filming L.A. Story with Steve Martin, the pair communicated by fax in what became for both an hilarious dialogue: "I kept these faxes, which grew to a stack more than 2in 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."

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.

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. 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".

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.

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, and presented the 2008 Laurence Olivier Awards.

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.

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.

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, 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.

In March 2013 Grant starred as Brian Jones (intelligence analyst) in David Morley (writer)'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 Brian Jones (intelligence analyst) had tried to warn that his government's September Dossier on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction was inaccurate.

On 9 May 2015 Grant gave a reading at VE Day 70: A Party to Remember in Horse Guards Parade, London.

In 2016 joined the HBO series Game of Thrones in Season 6 as Izembaro.


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, 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.

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 live." 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.

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.

Personal life

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. 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.

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. 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 and Perry Haydn Taylor's big fish created the website.



1987 Withnail and I Withnail
1989 Warlock Giles Redferne
1989 How to Get Ahead in Advertising Denis Dimbleby Bagley
1989 Killing Dad Ali Berg
1990 Mountains of the Moon Larry Oliphant
1990 Henry & June Hugo Guiler
1991 Hudson Hawk Darwin Mayflower Nominated - Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
1991 L.A. Story Roland Mackey
1992 The Player Tom Oakley
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Dr. 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 National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
1995 Jack and Sarah Jack
1996 The Portrait of a Lady Lord Warburton
1996 Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Sir Andrew Aguecheek
1996 The Cold Light of Day Victor Marek
1997 The Serpent's Kiss James Fitzmaurice
1997 Keep the Aspidistra Flying Gordon Comstock
1997 Spiceworld: The Movie Clifford
1998 St. Ives Major Farquhar Chevening
1999 The Match Gorgeous Gus
1999 A Christmas Carol Bob Crachit
2000 The Little Vampire Frederick Sackville-Bagg
2000 The Miracle Maker John the Baptist Voice
2001 Gosford Park George Broadcast 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
2003 Monsieur N. Hudson Lowe
2003 Bright Young Things Father Rothschild
2004 The Story of an African Farm Bonaparte Blenkins
2004 Tooth Jarvis Jarvis
2005 Wah-Wah Writer, director
2005 Corpse Bride Lord Barkis Bittern Voice
2005 Colour Me Kubrick Jasper
2006 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Preston Voice
2007 Always Crashing in the Same Car James Booth
2008 Penelope Franklin Wilhern
2008 The Garden of Eden Colonel Philip Boyle
2008 Filth and Wisdom Professor Flynn
2009 Love Hurts Ben Bingham
2009 Cuckoo Professor Julius Greengrass
2010 First Night Adam
2010 Jackboots on Whitehall Campbell Babbitt Voice
2010 The Nutcracker in 3D Father
2011 Horrid Henry: The Movie Vic Van Wrinkle
2011 The Iron Lady Michael Heseltine
2012 Foster Mr. Potts
2012 Kath & Kimderella Alain
2012 Zambezia Cecil Voice
2013 Khumba Bradley Voice
2013 Dom Hemingway Dickie
2013 About Time Lawyer in Play Uncredited
2014 Queen and Country Major Cross
2016 Their Finest Hour and a Half Filming
2017 Untitled Wolverine film Nathaniel Essex/Mr. Sinister Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Screen Two Moonee Livingstone Episode: "Honest, Decent & True"
1988 Codename: Kyril Sculby
1994 Absolutely Fabulous Justin Episode: "Hospital" (#2.1)
1996 Karaoke Nick Balmer
1996 A Royal Scandal King George IV
1997 Captain Star Captain Jim Star
1999-2000 The Scarlet Pimpernel Sir Percy Blakeney
The Scarlet Pimpernel
1999 Trial & Retribution III Stephen Warrington
1999 Let Them Eat Cake Monsieur Vigée-Lebrun Episode: "The Portrait"
1999 Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death The Conceited Doctor
2001 The Kumars at No. 42 Himself Episode: "Richard E. Grant and Michael Parkinson"
2002 Sherlock: Case of Evil Mycroft Holmes
2002 The Hound of the Baskervilles Jack Stapleton
2004 Posh Nosh Simon Marchmont
2004 Frasier Stephen Moon Episode: "Goodnight, Seattle"
2004 90 Days in Hollywood Narrator
2004 The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody Narrator
2005 Home Farm Twins Paul Baker
2006 Above and Beyond Don Bennett
2007 Dalziel and Pascoe Lee Knight
2007 Mumbai Calling Benedict T. Harlow
2007 Marple: Nemesis Raymond West
2011 The Crimson Petal and the White Dr. Curlew
2011 A Quiet Word With ... Himself
2011 Rab C Nesbitt Chingford Steel
2012 Richard E. Grant's Hotel Secrets Himself
2012 The Fear Seb Whiting
2012 The History of Safari With Richard E Grant Himself
2012-2013 Doctor Who Dr. Simeon / The Great Intelligence 3 Episodes: "The Snowmen", "The Bells of Saint John" and "The Name of the Doctor"
2013 The French Riviera: A History in Pictures Himself Presenter
2014 Girls Jasper
2014 Downton Abbey Simon Bricker Four Episodes
2015 Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked Wellington Documentary
2015 Jekyll and Hyde Sir Roger Bulstrode
2016 Game of Thrones Izembaro Season 6


Year Title Role Notes
1993 The Legends of Treasure Island Long John Silver
2003 Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka The Shalka Doctor
2013 Fuck: An Irreverent History of the F-Word Narrator Audiobook
2013 The Pillars of the Earth Narrator Audiobook
World Without End Narrator Audiobook
Pinocchio's Daring Journey Stromboli


  • 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).

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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