Date of Birth: May 5, 1957
Known to play upper-class eccentric English characters, Richard Grant was surprisingly not born in England, but in the small country of Swaziland in South Africa. When he was just 11, his father, a Minister of Education, and mother divorced. He attended Waterford boarding school as a child and was bitten by the acting bug at an early age, inspired by the work of Barbra Streisand.
Intent on a career in acting, Richard studied drama at Cape Town University where he co-founded a multi-racial ensemble called the Troupe Theatre Company. Over the next two years, Grant acted in and directed a number of the company's productions.
When Richard was 24, his father, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer and a year later the aspiring actor left South Africa to seek his fortunes in England. His first five years in London were difficult, but eventually he found work in various productions. In 1984 he was nominated as Most Promising Newcomer for his performance in Tramway Road at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.
It was during his hardest times that he met his future wife, Joan Washington. A top dialect coach, Washington is widely credited with Richard's well spoken English. Married in 1984, the couple suffered a tragedy when their first child, Tiffany, died shortly after her birth. Washington gave birth to another daughter, Olivia, who thankfully was healthy (the couple also have a son, Tom, from Washington's previous marriage.)
Richard's first film was an award-winning TV production called Honest, Decent and True, and this led to his audition for Withnail and I. The cult, and financial, success of Withnail and I caught Hollywood's attention and gave the actor the big break he needed.
He subsequently earned recognition on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to a number of diverse and often peculiar roles in films of widely varying quality. Particularly memorable during the early to mid-'90s were roles as Anais Nin's well-intentioned but dull husband in Henry and June (1990), the evil billionaire Darwin Mayflower in the spectacularly disappointing Hudson Hawk (1991), and a high society lounge lizard Larry Lefferts in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993).
Richard follows a strict lifestyle. He doesn't drink alcohol (he's allergic to it), tea or coffee, and he doesn't smoke or eat dairy products.
Despite his eccentric persona, Richard has time and again proven himself more than capable of handling the straight man roles, as he demonstrated in such films as Jack and Sarah (1995), in which he played a grieving widower; The Portrait of a Lady (1996), in which he had a small but memorable role as one of Isabel Archer's most ardent suitors; and the made-for-TV The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999), which cast him as its titular hero. In 2002, along with the rest of the cast of Gosford Park (2001), he won a Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by the Cast of a Theatrical Motion Picture.
In 2002, Richard appeared in the TV movie Sherlock alongside James D'Arcy and in 2003, the comedy series Posh Nosh with Joanna Lumley. Also in 2003, he acted in Stephen Fry's comedy Bright Young Things with Emily Mortimer and Dan Aykroyd.
The remainder of the 2000s saw Richard work in Tim's Burton's Oscar-nominated animated film Corpse Bride (2005) with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, the comedy Color Me Kubrick (2005) with John Malkovich, the romcom Penelope (2006) with Christina Ricci and James McAvoy, and the romcom Love Hurts (2009) with Carrie-Anne Moss.
In 2011, he worked with Toni Collette on the family film Foster, as well as the Oscar-winning Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep. Two years later, he worked with Jude Law on the comedy Don Hemingway. In 2014, he portrayed Simon Bricker on the highly popular Golden Globe-winning period drama Downton Abbey. He acted in four episodes of the show.
Richard's latest credits include the drama series Dig (2015) with Jason Isaacs and Anne Heche, the series Jekyll & Hyde (2015), three 2016 episodes of Game of Thrones, the Oscar-nominated Jacqueline Kennedy biopic Jackie (2016) with Natalie Portman, and the action drama Logan (2017) with Hugh Jackman.
Richard returned to theaters in Disney's fantasy film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) and in the drama Can You Ever Forgive Me?(2018) alongside Melissa McCarthy. For his role in the latter, the actor earned his first nominations for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
The following year, Richard starred in Palm Beach(2019) and Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019). In 2021, he featured in action flick The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguardand the Disney series Loki.