Richard E. Grant owes career to Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis blanked Richard E. Grant on set in order to remain in character.

Richard E. Grant has credited Daniel Day-Lewis’ decision to turn down a role in Withnail & I with giving him a film career.

The British actor rose to fame after playing the alcoholic title character in Bruce Robinson’s 1987 cult classic - but admits he wasn’t the first choice for the role.

“Thank god the f**ker turned it down,” the 61-year-old said at a career retrospective at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts headquarters in London this month (Dec18). “Because otherwise, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

The star explained that like his character in the film he had spent months without work, and felt he was right for the role. However, he believed that Daniel’s success in Hollywood meant he’d have little chance - until he turned the part down.

“Daniel had opened in Room with a View and (My) Beautiful Laundrette playing an effete Edwardian and a south London punk in the other, and both movies opened in the same day in America, which was unbelievably fortuitous for him,” the Will You Ever Forgive Me? star added. “The critics couldn’t believe it was the same actor and so he was offered everything, including Withnail, but chose to do The Unbearable Lightness of Being instead.”

Several years later, Richard worked with Daniel on the Martin Scorsese film The Age of Innocence and joked about the debt he owed him for giving him a career.

However, despite their friendly introduction - he soon fell foul of the Phantom Thread star’s dedication to method acting.

“For the next three months he didn’t speak to me,” the bemused actor explained. “I kid you not, because his character hated my character in the story and so I went up to them in the trailer the next day and there’s Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Miriam Margolyes, and Dan and I said good morning and he didn’t speak to me.”

However, he found out all was well at the end of the shoot, when his co-star broke character and said: “Oh Richard it’s such a pleasure, I’ve really enjoyed working with you.”

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