Richard E. Grant

On this date in 1957, actor Richard E. Grant (né Richard Grant Esterhuysen) was born in Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland when it was a British protectorate and his father Henrik was the nation’s director of education. He had a tough childhood. Henrik was an alcoholic who could become abusive, and his mother Leonne ran off with her husband’s best friend not long after Richard saw them having sex in the back seat of a car when he was 10. Henrik shot at Richard one night and “then passed out. He didn’t remember it the next day,” Richard said. He told The Independent in 2006 that he was estranged from his younger brother Stuart.

After studying English and drama at the University of Capetown and joining an acting company there, he moved to England in 1982, the year after Henrik died at 51 of cancer. He made his film debut in the drama “Withnail and I” (1987), followed by film roles in “L.A. Story” (1991), “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992), “Gosford Park” (2001), “The Iron Lady” (2011) and “Logan” (2017). He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018). On television, he played Bob Cratchit in TNT’s “A Christmas Carol” (1999) and appeared in “Star Wars: Episode IX” (December 2019 release).

Grant has written three books and started marketing a line of Jack perfumes in 2014. He married voice coach Joan Washington, eight years his senior, in 1986. They have a daughter, Olivia, and she has a son, Tom. He described himself in April 2014 to The Telegraph newspaper as a “confirmed atheist.”

In February 2000 he told The Daily Mail that, “Like [my father], I absolutely believe in the here and now. I have no expectation that there’s anything beyond. Life’s to be grabbed with every fibre of your being.” In October 2005, he told The Times of London that although his wife is a Christian, she encouraged their daughter to make up her own mind: “Like me, she came to the conclusion that both Heaven and Hell are here on Earth.”

Photo by Greg2600 under CC 2.0.

Freedom From Religion Foundation