Brow Beat

And Now, a Ranking of the Weirdest Things on Richard E. Grant’s Sublime Wikipedia Page

A black-and-white photo of Richard E. Grant smiling, surrounded by other people on a crowded red carpet for a movie premiere in November 2018.
Richard E. Grant in November. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

I can see how it might be an annoying moment to be a longtime Richard E. Grant fan. The whole world is treating the past few months like the actor’s coming-out season, thanks to his awards run for his work in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, when meanwhile some people have been Grant-stanning since the ’90s. But what other choice do we have, when the actor’s personality keeps unfurling to reveal ever-more-delightful nooks and crannies? We now know, for example, that the 61-year-old first-time Oscar nominee is just as good at social media as he is at acting. Also that he is a lifelong fan of Barbra Streisand, as well as, per the New York Times, a “seasoned raconteur.” Now I’m here to add another item to the list of ways in which Grant is excellent: He has one of the best Wikipedia pages I have ever read.

When the Carpetbagger hung out with Grant in December, the column made reference to the page but did not linger on it, noting that Grant “is a teetotaler, which is mentioned so prominently on his Wikipedia page that it comes up in every interview.” But there is much to linger on! So much that I present the following: a ranking of the weirdest things on Richard E. Grant’s Wikipedia page, ranked from least weird to downright unusual, with commentary. (I have taken screenshots in case anyone tries to vandalize this page, but I warn you that to do so would be a crime against humanity.) So we begin:

7. This paragraph:

While filming L.A. Story with Steve Martin, the pair communicated by fax in what became for both a hilarious dialogue: “I kept these faxes, which grew to a stack more than 2in thick, because they entertained me, and because I thought they were valuable aesthetic chunks from a screeching mind, a stream-of-consciousness faucet spewing sentences – sometimes a mile long – none of it rewritten, and bearing just the right amount of acid and alkaline.”

L.A. Story came out in 1991, so it’s really not that weird at all that Martin and Grant were communicating via fax. It would be weird if that’s how they still communicated today, I grant you, but there is no evidence that this is so. Anyway, Martin apparently read some of this treasured correspondence when presenting at the recent New York Film Critics Circle’s awards dinner. Probably this whole thing should be edited out of the Career section of Grant’s page, but no Wikipedian has been able to bring themselves to do it yet because it is too charming to imagine the friendship between Grant and Martin.

6. This:

In April 2014, Grant launched his new unisex perfume, JACK, exclusively at Liberty of Regent Street, London.

Grant wouldn’t have struck me as the type to release a celebrity perfume, let alone a unisex celebrity perfume, let alone a unisex celebrity perfume available exclusively at Liberty of Regent Street, London, but if you read the hilarious interview to which this fact is attributed, you’ll discover that it was inspired by an American girl who taught Grant to French kiss when he was 11-and-three-quarter-years old and who he then failed to buy perfume for. It follows that such a crucial fact not be omitted from his Wikipedia page.

5. These subheads:

2   Career

2.1   Wah-Wah

3   Personal life

These headers make a lot more sense if you know that Wah-Wah is Grant’s 2005 film loosely based on his childhood in Swaziland, the small African country that’s now called Eswatini and that the British Empire ruled over for the first half of the 20th century. The subtitles are also quite fun if you don’t know that and just imagine that Grant had a “wah-wah” period, as some of us inevitably do.

4. This paragraph:

Grant is a teetotaller. He is intolerant to alcohol, having no enzymes in the blood to metabolise it. If he does drink alcohol, he can keep it down for 10 minutes and is then violently sick for 24 hours afterward. After casting him as the alcoholic Withnail, director Bruce Robinson made Grant drink a bottle of champagne and half a bottle of vodka during the course of a night so that he had experience of the sensation. 

An alcohol intolerance that allows Grant to keep alcohol down for 10 minutes before getting violently sick for 24 hours is just an incredibly specific condition for anyone to have. Its existence raises several questions: How did he find out he was intolerant? Is it always exactly 10 minutes that the alcohol stays down? Then a full 24 hours that the sickness lasts? And knowing all this, wasn’t it cruel for Bruce Robinson to inflict illness on Grant? Are we just going to leave that hanging out there and move on?? On the peripatetic journey that is Richard E. Grant’s Wikipedia page, I guess so.

3. This:

On 1 December 2006, Grant turned real life investigator when, with the help of the BBC’s Newsnight, he exposed a $98 million scam to sell a bogus AIDS cure.

Grant’s native Eswatini is among the countries with the world’s highest rates of HIV, so Grant’s special interest in the issue is not a surprise. That he himself ended up busting a company that was attempting to pass goat serum off as a cure for AIDS is not something most Academy Award nominees can claim, however. Grant heard about the so-called cure from a neighbor and, thinking it sounded fishy, tipped off the British TV show Newsnight. The show ran a sting on the men promoting the “cure,” an operation that, according to the Telegraph, “ended with [Grant] bursting into a hotel room to confront the men he claimed were peddling “nothing but snake oil.’ ” Well, he does have a flair for drama!

2. This:

For the last infraction, Grant was eventually forced to meet with the King of Swaziland to seek clemency.

Grant had a falling out with Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, the producer of Wah-Wah, after she failed to obtain the necessary paperwork to film the movie in Eswatini, he has claimed. “Three days before shooting was due to start, with 110 people ready to work, I had to seek an audience with the King of Swaziland (King Mswati III) and beg his clemency and get the permission we needed to work,” Grant told Australia’s Courier Mail in 2006. “I’d met him twice before during our location reconnaissance and he was most obliging, (but) it was not the way I’d wanted to start.”

1. This:

When Grant was 10, he witnessed his mother commit adultery on the back seat of a car with his father’s best friend, which subsequently led to his parents’ divorce.

Grant spoke about his parents’ relationship in a 2006 interview. Grant was asleep in a car and woke up to the sight of his mother and another man, to clarify why he was there at all. It is somewhat unclear to me, though, whether he was sitting in the back seat of the car watching his mother in the front seat or vice versa. Can someone please find out and add this to the page?

Just think: All this, and his Wookieepedia page isn’t bad either. “Perfumier”!