Film Scouts Interviews

Richard E. Grant on "Jack and Sarah"

by Karen Jaehne

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Q: Some 10 years ago, you were a big hit in a cult classic called "Withnail & I."

Grant: Yes, it's just been re-released in England! But it was such a dark comedy that it left me playing those dark, dangerous roles. In fact, it's because the character of Jack has this dark, tragic side that people think it was written for me. I guess it was, because after Jack's wife dies and his world turns topsy-turvy, he gets very interesting.

Q: Jack is sort of forced into fatherhood.

Grant: Yes, he has no choice really. I'm not sure we ever do.

Q: I understand you have a child. Are you a diaper-changing daddy?

Grant: She's 7 now, so I'm not at that stage. Thank god. Instead, I'm an FAO Schwartz subsidizing daddy. But when my daughter was born, we had an extremely kind Jamaican nurse who showed me how to hold the baby, to bathe her and do it properly. I had my video camera, so I've video'd her entire childhood.

Q: How do you go about acting opposite a baby? It's not like an infant can be "directed" to laugh, cry or respond.

Grant: You have to grab whatever they do at the time. If it's crying you need, you just wait and then, when she cries, pack in the scene. You can't do 17 takes, obviously.

Q: Was it frustrating?

Grant: You just had to be very sharp and absolutely spontaneous. There's no downtime waiting for the lights to be perfect.

Q: Was W.C. Fields right about dogs and children?

Grant: He made a point.

Q: You're something of a W.C. Fields yourself in most of your roles as curmudgeonly Englishmen in American films.

Grant: I do have a broader range, you know.

Q: So how are you going to demonstrate that?

Grant: Anthony Hopkins says you just keep acting. Do it all the time and eventually it will happen. He got his break, after all, by taking a role nobody else wanted. A cannibal!

Q: Would you play a cannibal?

Grant: It's right up my alley, is it not?

Q: After everybody reads this on the internet, Richard, you'll be deluged with cannibal scripts.

Grant: Now that's something to look forward to!

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