Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Richard E Grant Talks Films and Memories

Last week the Cochrane Theatre at Central Saint Martins was host to a chap who many view as the quintessential British actor, Richard E Grant. Born and raised in Swaziland, it’s hard to believe that he isn’t British at all.

In conversation with Vladimir Mirodan, (Chairman of the Conference of Drama Schools and a member of the Executive and Council of the National Council for Drama Training), Grant was there to discuss his own experiences of writing and directing Wah-Wah, his 2005 film for which he has recently published a set of memoirs, “The Wah-Wah Diaries.”

Having kept a diary from a very young age, Grant was inspired to write about a time in his life that is bookended by two very traumatic experiences; the first witnessing his mother having sex with his father’s best friend in a car where he was apparently asleep in the back seat, aged 10, and the death of his father years later, who he reveals to be a violent alcoholic.  The interview is peppered with fantastic insights and anecdotes into his professional influences.  From his praise for his mentor, Bruce Robinson (director of Withnail & I) to his utter contempt for the incompetent French producer of Wah-Wah, simply cited as the “quadruple barrelled s**t f**k”, as both her forename and surname are double-barrelled.

Most interesting of all was his account of the big screen preview of Withnail & I; not only was he horrified at his performance, Grant was genuinely convinced that he had ruined not only his own career, but that of director Bruce Robinson.  He even offered to return the money he was paid for the part.

The audience was both entertained and charmed by Grant’s quips and revelations of his first forays into scriptwriting.   Mirodan sings praises for “The Wah-Wah Diaries”, claiming it should be included on all scriptwriting course reading lists as it covers the full breadth of experience a novice writer and director will encounter.   

By Vesna Pavlovic

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