Richard E Grant has revealed every acting job he secured in his career was the “direct result” of starring in cult classic Withnail And I.
He has said the film, revolving around an alcohol-fuelled trip to the Lake District, was the reason for him being cast in career roles since.
The Swazi-British actor portrayed the dishevelled and drunken thespian Withnail in the 1980s film, which has become a revered British comedy.
Speaking to The Big Issue, Grant has said he had ambitions to be a stage actor, and never dreamed that he would be a star of the big screen.
A chance change of agent resulted in a successful audition for the planned Withnail And I, a film he says has underpinned his entire career.
He said: “Almost without exception, every job I’ve had, is a direct result of being in this Withnail And I.”
The film made him part of a cult classic, playing an alcoholic acting hopeful. Grant’s own relationship with drink was fraught, being brought up in a household with an alcoholic father in Swaziland.
Grant said that his early ambitions upon moving to England were to be in theatre, but a new agent steered him to the comic role that made his name.
He said: “I genuinely thought that my entire career would be in the theatre, and never thought I’d ever be in films.
“I got a new agent, Michael Whitehall, who introduced me to casting directors – one of whom, Mary Selway, auditioned me for Withnail And I, which completely changed my professional life.
“I am so indebted to writer-director Bruce Robinson for taking the chance on a complete unknown, and for the decades-long friendship that’s ensued. I am allergic to alcohol, so it’s ironic being identified for playing a drug-addled alcoholic.”
The Big Issue is out today.