WITH NAILS by Richard E. Grant


The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant
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With just the right smattering of poison in his pen, this Swazi/British actor recounts the daily trials and tribulations of making movies. Grant’s moderately successful acting career is largely the result of one film, Withnail and I, a 1986 British cult film that garnered him substantial critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Until this role came along, Grant was wracked upon the wheel of increasingly despairing auditions; six months later, he was jetting off to Hollywood and taking meetings. His pleasant but slightly off-kilter looks brought few offers to play the leading man, but lots of juicy “character” roles as directors from Coppola to Altman to Scorsese cast him in small but telling parts. Grant’s recounting of making the egregiously bad Hudson Hawk, the madness of endless delays, rudderless direction, and cost overruns, are some of the most entertaining and appalling parts of this book. Grant is secure enough to reveal at length the insecurities and ego drubbings and monomania of the actor’s life. As both a fan and a player, he is close enough to see all the boggling, sordid workings of the star machine, but not quite caught in its gears. Each director’s style may vary (and Grant is particularly insightful on directing actors), but certain things remain the same: the long delays, punctuated by intense moments of activity, the close camaraderie that dissipates once filming is over, the struggle to find the truth of a character. In the service of their egos, actors often try to increase their lines, expand their roles, and if this book has a fault, it is along these lines—it is just a little too long. But you—d be hard pressed to find an American actor who could deliver such a refreshing combination of comedy, confession, and coruscation. (14 b&w photos)

Pub Date: June 12th, 1998
ISBN: 0-87951-828-6
Page count: 337pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998