What Are Richard E. Grant’s Best Movies Besides ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’?

Grant and Melissa McCarthy in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ | Mary Cybulski/20th Century Fox

There aren’t many surprises when you see Richard E. Grant in a film. You’re always going to get his trademark accent, crystal-clear diction, and strange edginess on the screen. From his terrific debut in Withnail and I (1987) to his Oscar-nominated turn turn alongside Melissa McCarthy, we haven’t seen a film in which he doesn’t command your attention.

Of course, with 127 acting credits to his name, not everyone has warmed to the value in Grant’s film and TV work. Once, the playful gang behind The Razzies nominated him for Worst Supporting Actor for Hudson Hawk. But in 2019, Grant’s had the last laugh following his widely celebrated role in Can You Forgive Me? (2018)

Come late February, he’ll be competing for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. As Grant counts his blessing on Twitter and fans gear up to root for him at the awards show, here’s a look at some excellent roles Grant’s had in the past.

Gosford Park (2001)

Actors (L to R) Michael Gambon, Emily Watson and Richard E. Grant appear in a scene from the film ‘Gosford Park.’ | Chicagofilms/Getty Images

You find a much darker Grant than usual in Gosford Park, the gem Robert Altman delivered (one of his last) in 2001. But in a heavyweight cast that included Alan Bates, Clive Owen, Maggie Smith, and Helen Mirren, Grant more than holds his own.

This picture hasn’t aged a day in over two decades, and it was the third film Altman made featuring Grant in a supporting role. Most actors would take that as enough validation for a career.

The Player (1992)

Altman knew what he’d get from Grant in Pret-a-Porter and Gosford Park after watching him at work on The Player. In this biting Hollywood satire, Grant plays Tom Oakley, a screenwriter desperate to sell a script (titled Habeas Corpus) to producer Tim Robbins.

Though Robbins isn’t wowed by the idea, he bites on Grant’s script so he can use it to push out studio boss Peter Gallagher. Later, just when audiences weigh in to say the ending stinks, Robbins would swoop in and improve the cut.

The principle-free Grant is more than happy to accept his film’s fate. His exchange with one of the story editors at the end says it all:

Bonnie Sherow: How could you let him sell you out? What about truth? Reality?

Tom Oakley : What about the way the old ending tested in Canoga Park? Everybody hated it. We reshot it, now everybody loves it. That’s reality.

No wonder Altman wanted Grant to play one of the servants in Gosford Park.

L.A. Story (1991)

Grant as Roland Mackey in ‘L.A. Story’ | L.A. Films

In L.A. Story, Grant’s character Roland Mackey will do a lot of things to win back his ex-wife (Victoria Tennant), but going out of his way in L.A. traffic isn’t one of them. There are too many hilarious moments to recount from Grant (playing it straight) in this one, but we’ll give it a shot.

One comes when Grant, seized by passion, grabs Tennant and attempts to overwhelm her with a kiss. “That was nice,” she replies, unmoved.

Another comes when he first meets Steve Martin (who wrote and starred in the film). “You have a lot of verve,” Grant tells Martin’s character, Harris K. Telemacher. That stops Martin in his tracks. “Verve?” he replies.

Withnail and I (1987)

In Grant’s film debut, he played the title character who, along with another struggling young London actor (Paul McGann), decides to get out of the city for a country idyll. That makes already-messy matters worse for the two friends, who encounter one hilarious disaster after another on their vacation.

Grant’s performance as Withnail is unforgettable, and IMDB.com rounded up some of his best quotes from the film. Grant shouting at “Are you the farmer?” at a man on a tractor is a line that sticks with you long after viewing.

But the scene in which he screams at a deserted valley at dusk may be the film’s finest moment. “YOU BASTARDS! YOU’LL ALL SUFFER! I’LL SHOW THE LOT OF YOU! I’M GONNA BE A STAR!”

Easy access to classics like Withnail and I is the reason we miss FilmStruck so much. However you can screen it in 2019, do yourself a favor by seeing the film. And don’t sleep on Grant’s chances for the Oscar for his Can You Ever Forgive Me? performance.

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