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Richard E. Grant
Richard E. Grant 2018.jpg
Grant in 2018
Richard Grant Esterhuysen

(1957-05-05) 5 May 1957 (age 65)
Mbabane, Swaziland
Nationality Swazi, British
Other names Richard Grant
Education University of Cape Town
Occupation Actor, presenter
Years active 1980–present
Joan Washington
(m. 1986; died 2021)
Children 1

Richard E. Grant (born Richard Grant Esterhuysen; 5 May 1957) is a Swazi-English actor and presenter. He made his film debut as Withnail in the comedy Withnail and I (1987). Grant received critical acclaim for his role as Jack Hock in Marielle Heller's drama film Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), winning various awards including the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male. He also received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

Grant is known for portraying supporting roles in the feature films How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989), L.A. Story (1990), Hudson Hawk (1991), The Player (1992), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993), Spice World (1997), Gosford Park (2001), Corpse Bride (2005), The Iron Lady (2011), Logan (2017), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Everybody's Talking About Jamie (2021), and Persuasion (2022).

He's also known for his roles in television including Rev. (2011), Doctor Who (2012-2013), Downton Abbey (2014), Girls (2014), Game of Thrones (2016), and Loki (2021).

Early life

Grant was born as Richard Grant Esterhuysen on 5 May 1957 in Mbabane, Protectorate of Swaziland (now Eswatini). He is the son of Leonne and Henrik Esterhuysen; Henrik was head of education for the British government administration in the British protectorate of Swaziland. He has English, Dutch/Afrikaner, and German ancestry. He has a younger brother, Stuart, an accountant in Johannesburg, from whom he is estranged; Grant has stated that they "never had any relationship".

As a boy, Grant went to primary school at St Mark's, a local government school in Mbabane that only recently had become racially integrated. When Grant was 10, he witnessed his mother commit adultery 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 attended secondary school at Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa, an independent school near Mbabane. In May 1976 he arrived at the University of Cape Town to study English and drama. He adopted his stage name when he moved to Britain (in 1982) 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'."

BAFTA 2007 (387046786)
Grant at the 2007 BAFTA Awards

Grant's first film role was the perpetually inebriated title character in the cult classic Withnail and I (1987). Following this, he started appearing in Hollywood films, in a range of projects from blockbuster studio movies to small independent projects. Since then, Grant has had 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. Martin wrote: "I kept these faxes, which grew to a stack more than 2 inches 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. In 1996, he portrayed Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night. He released a single and accompanying video "To Be Or Not To Be" with Orpheus in 1997.

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 to the revival of the TV series. He made his first official Doctor Who appearance in the 2012 Christmas special, titled "The Snowmen", in which he plays the villain, Walter Simeon. During the episode Simeon is erased from his body and it is taken over by the Great Intelligence, voiced in that episode by Ian McKellen until the takeover. Grant reprised the role in "The Bells of Saint John" and in the Series 7 finale, "The Name of the Doctor".

Grant as The Voice for 2+2+2 at Heavy Entertainment, London.

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 in 2008 co-starred in the London-based comedy Filth and Wisdom. Grant 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, a role he reprised in 2017 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 2009, Grant 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.

In 2010 he starred in short film The Man Who Married Himself, which won Best Comedy at LA International Shorts Festival and Rhode Island Film Festival. Later that year, he made an appearance in a music video, when short-lived Bristol band The Chemists hired him to appear in their video for "This City"; the band split the same year. This appearance followed Grant's involvement with the band the previous year, in which he spoke the lyrics to "This City" to background music as part of the intro and outro tracks on their only album, Theories of Dr Lovelock.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? 03 (44890224352)
Grant at the premiere of Can You Ever Forgive Me? in 2018

In March 2013 Grant starred as intelligence analyst Brian Jones in David Morley's radio 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 Jones had tried to warn that his government's September Dossier on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction was inaccurate. In 2014, Grant was cast on the HBO series Girls after series creator Lena Dunham saw him in Spice World.

On 9 May 2015 Grant gave a reading at VE Day 70: A Party to Remember in Horse Guards Parade, London. In 2016 he joined the HBO series Game of Thrones in Season 6 as Izembaro.

In July 2018, Lucasfilm announced that Grant would appear in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That same year, Grant's critically lauded performance as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) earned him Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. The part also won Grant a New York Film Critics Circle Award and several other critics awards.

In March 2020, Grant joined the cast of the Disney+ / Marvel Cinematic Universe series Loki as Classic Loki, an older variant of Loki. Grant portrays Sir Walter Elliot in Carrie Cracknell's 2022 adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion. The film was released July 15, 2022 on Netflix.


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 he would "never see her again as long as [he] live[s]." 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 film in Swaziland. For the last infraction, Grant was eventually forced to meet with the King of Eswatini 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

Richard E Grant 2014
Grant in 2014

Grant married voice coach Joan Washington in 1986 and had one daughter with her, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom. Washington died on 2 September 2021, after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

Grant is a teetotaller.

Grant is a fan of Barbra Streisand and has done a tour of Streisand's New York, visiting her early home, her high school, and the Village Vanguard, among other places.

Grant is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). He used to wear a watch on each wrist, one given to him by his dying father, permanently set on Swaziland time.

In October 2008, Grant told The Times that he is an atheist. He is an avid supporter of Premier League football club West Ham United. In April 2014, Grant launched his new unisex perfume, JACK, exclusively at Liberty of Regent Street, London. Grant runs the perfume business in collaboration with his daughter.

In September 2022, Grant released a memoir, A Pocketful of Happiness, mostly written in the last year of his wife's life. He was a guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in November 2022; his choice of book was Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, his luxury item a piano, and his chosen record 'When I Fall In Love' by Nat King Cole.



Year Title Role Notes
1987 Withnail and I Withnail
Hidden City Brewster
1989 How to Get Ahead in Advertising Denis Dimbleby Bagley
Warlock Giles Redferne
1990 Mountains of the Moon Larry Oliphant
Killing Dad Ali Berg
Henry & June Hugo Guiler
1991 L.A. Story Roland Mackey
1991 Hudson Hawk Darwin Mayflower
1992 The Player Tom Oakley
Bram Stoker's Dracula Dr. Jack Seward
1993 The Age of Innocence Larry Lefferts
Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life Franz Kafka Short film
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Cort Romney
1995 Jack and Sarah Jack
1996 The Cold Light of Day Victor Marek
The Portrait of a Lady Lord Warburton
Twelfth Night: Or What You Will Sir Andrew Aguecheek
1997 The Serpent's Kiss James Fitzmaurice
Keep the Aspidistra Flying Gordon Comstock
Food of Love Alex Salmon
Spice World Clifford
1998 St. Ives Major Farquhar Chevening
1999 The Match Gorgeous Gus
2000 The Miracle Maker John the Baptist Voice
The Little Vampire Frederick Sackville-Bagg
2001 Hildegarde Wolf
Gosford Park George
2003 Monsieur N. Hudson Lowe
Bright Young Things Father Rothschild
2004 Tooth Jarvis Jarvis
The Story of an African Farm Bonaparte Blenkins
2005 Wah-Wah N/A Writer and director
Corpse Bride Lord Barkis Bittern Voice
Colour Me Kubrick Jasper
2006 Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties Preston Voice
Penelope Franklin Wilhern
2007 Always Crashing in the Same Car James Booth
2008 Filth and Wisdom Professor Flynn
The Garden of Eden Colonel Philip Boyle
2009 Cuckoo Professor Julius Greengrass
Love Hurts Ben Bingham
2010 Jackboots on Whitehall Campbell Babbitt Voice
1st Night Adam Drummond
The Nutcracker in 3D Father
The Man Who Married Himself Oliver
2011 The Last Fashion Show Federico Marinoni
Foster Mr Potts
Horrid Henry: The Movie Vic Van Wrinkle
How to Stop Being a Loser Ian
The Iron Lady Michael Heseltine
2012 Zambezia Cecil Voice
Kath & Kimderella Alain
2013 About Time Lawyer in Play Uncredited cameo
Khumba Bradley Voice
Dom Hemingway Dickie Black
2014 Queen and Country Major Cross
2016 Jackie William Walton
Their Finest Roger Swain
2017 Logan Zander Rice
The Hitman's Bodyguard Mr. Seifert
2018 Can You Ever Forgive Me? Jack Hock
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Shiver
2019 Palm Beach Billy
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Allegiant General Enric Pryde
2020 Robin Robin Magpie Voice; Short film
2021 Earwig and the Witch The Mandrake English dub
The Spine of Night The Guardian Voice
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Mr. Seifert
Everybody's Talking About Jamie Hugo Battersby/Loco Chanelle
2022 Persuasion Sir Walter Elliot
0TBA Wildwood dagger Filming
0TBA Saltburn dagger


Year Title Role Notes
1983 Sweet Sixteen Anton Episode: "Episode Six"
1985–1989 Screen Two Moonee Livingstone/David Dunhill 2 episodes
1988 Codename: Kyril Sculby 4 episodes
Diebe in der Nacht Joseph Television film
1993 Great Performances: Suddenly Last Summer George Holly Television special
The Legends of Treasure Island Long John Silver Voice
8 episodes
1994 Absolutely Fabulous Justin Episode: "Hospital"
Hard Times James Harthouse 3 episodes
1996 Karaoke Nick Balmer 4 episodes
Cold Lazarus Nick Balmer 2 episodes
1997 A Royal Scandal George IV Television film
1997–1998 Captain Star Captain Jim Star Voice
14 episodes
1999–2000 The Scarlet Pimpernel Sir Percy Blakeney / The Scarlet Pimpernel 6 episodes
1999 Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death The Conceited Doctor Television special
Let Them Eat Cake Monsieur Vigée-Lebrun Episode: "The Portrait"
Trial & Retribution III Stephen Warrington 2 episodes
A Christmas Carol Bob Cratchit Television film
2002 Sherlock: Case of Evil Mycroft Holmes Television film
The Hound of the Baskervilles Jack Stapleton Television film
2003 Posh Nosh Simon Marchmont 8 episodes
2004 Frasier Stephen Moon Episode: "Goodnight, Seattle"
90 Days in Hollywood Narrator Voice
The Story of Bohemian Rhapsody Narrator Voice
2005 Home Farm Twins Paul Baker Unknown episodes
2006 That'll Teach 'Em: Boys Versus Girls Narrator Voice
5 episodes
Above and Beyond Don Bennett 2 episodes
2007 Agatha Christie's Marple Raymond West Episode: "Nemesis"
Dalziel and Pascoe Lee Knight Episode: "Demons on Our Shoulders"
Roald Dahl's Revolting Rule Book Himself Television special
2008 Mumbai Calling Benedict T. Harlow Episode: "Good Sellers"
2009 Freezing Richard Episode #1.1
2011 The Crimson Petal and the White Dr Curlew 4 episodes
Rab C. Nesbitt Chingford Steel Episode: "Broke"
Rev. Marcus Episode #2.5
2012–2014 Richard E. Grant's Hotel Secrets Himself (host) 14 episodes
2012 Playhouse Presents Stephen / Tony Episode: "The Other Woman"
The Fear Seb Whiting 3 episodes
The History of Safari with Richard E. Grant Himself (host) Television documentary
2012–2013 Doctor Who Dr Simeon / The Great Intelligence 3 episodes
2013 The Riviera: A History in Pictures Himself (host) 2 episodes
2014 Girls Jasper 4 episodes
Downton Abbey Simon Bricker 4 episodes
Psychobitches Matthew Hopkins Episode #2.6
2015 Dig Ian Margrove 9 episodes
Wellington: The Iron Duke Unmasked Wellington Television documentary
Jekyll and Hyde Sir Roger Bulstrode 9 episodes
2016 Game of Thrones Izembaro 3 episodes
The Last Dragonslayer Dragon (Voice)
Television film
2018 Hang Ups Leonard Conrad 5 episodes
2019 A Series of Unfortunate Events The Man with a Beard but No Hair 3 episodes
2019–2022 Tuca & Bertie Holland Voice
5 episodes
2020 Dispatches from Elsewhere Octavio Coleman 10 episodes
2021 Agatha and Poirot: Partners in Crime Himself (host) Television documentary
Loki Classic Loki 2 episodes
Write Around the World Himself (host) 3 episodes
Robin Robin Magpie Special
The Outlaws The Earl 2 episodes
Blankety Blank Christmas Special Himself/panellist Christmas Special
2022 Suspect Harry 1 episode

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2020 Sackboy: A Big Adventure Vex Voice


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Doctor Who: Scream of the Shalka The Doctor Animated Series
2007 George's Marvellous Medicine Narrator Audiobook
The Pillars of the Earth Narrator Audiobook
World Without End Narrator Audiobook
2008 My Fair Lady Henry Higgins Theatre Royal, Sydney
2010 "This City" Human cyborg The Chemists music video
2011 Conqueror Narrator Audiobook
2013 The Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery Narrator Audiobook
2017 My Fair Lady Henry Higgins Lyric Opera of Chicago

Awards and nominations

Women's History Month on Kiddle
Women Scientists of Antiquity
Mary the Jewess
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