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Richard E Grant on the never-ending appeal of not giving a f***

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By Gregory Wakeman, Metro

When you interview Richard E Grant you privately hope to hear one or two expletives from the inimitable British actor.

Just so you can tell your grandkids about it.

During our recent exchange regarding his superb, Oscar worthy performance in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, which revolves around author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy)’s literary forgeries in the early 1990s, I was lucky enough not just to hear Grant drop some curse words, but also be as outrageously witty and exciting as the whole world dreams he is every second of every day.

Especially when it came to recalling how he signed up to star in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

“I got told by my agent that I had 24 hours to read the script and make a decision.”

“I said, ‘What is this? ‘Mission Impossible’? Is it going to f***ing implode. Who has dropped dead or dropped out?’ She said, ‘Don’t worry about that. Just read it because they need a decision very, very quickly.’”

Luckily for Grant, he loved it. “I saw that it was essentially a buddy, road movie. But the road movie was between bars, bookshops, apartments and court rooms in New York City in 1991.”

“The movie it reminded me of was ‘Midnight Cowboy.’ Ratso and Joe Buck from that film. Two people living on the periphery of society, who are failing upwards, that shouldn’t be friends, but somehow are because of necessity and co-dependancy.”

Grant also admitted that working with "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"'s mostly female cast and crew, from McCarthy to director Marielle Heller and producers Anne Carey and Amy Nauiokas, was also an attraction, especially as he was just coming off the all-male, hyper testosterone set of “Logan.”

In Jack Hock and Israel, the film also gave both Grant and McCarthy the opportunities to play characters that just don’t give a “f***,” too, which, the actor insists will always be an attraction.

“She is a complete porcupine. She is prickly and curmudgeonly and unapologetic about who she is. Even when she is supposed to be contrite, she says she had a great time and that writing these pieces is actually her best work. She is proud of it.”

“There is something about it, in this era of fake news, that you just go this is someone who is unapologetically staying true to themselves and weirdly it is refreshing and endearing as a result. She couldn’t give a flying f***. Just take it or leave it. F*** you.”

“You enjoy watching them be like that. But you don’t want to be in their company. You end up rooting for them because they are like an urban ‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid’.”

“You think, ‘Well, if I was that desperate, and I found a Fanny Brice letter, and I was up against it, who are you to make the big moral compass decision and say I wouldn’t do that, because I probably would do the same thing.’”

Grant insists that Israel had every right to be proud of her actions, too, even if they were incredibly illegal. “It is such a brilliant act of literary ventriloquism that she pulled off, impersonating these writers and convincing experts they were the real McCoy.”

“I am amazed that it is not better known. I hope that more people will learn about it through this film.”

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” is released on October 19.

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