"It was like walking into Madame Tussauds."
That's how Richard E. Grant describes his experience attending the 91st Academy Awards, where he was nominated for his supporting performance in the Melissa McCarthy-led dramedy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? "Even though I'm 66, I still feel like a kid who was let loose into the candy shop of fame," says the actor.
Never was that feeling more palpable than when he attended that year's Oscars Nominees Luncheon. "Everywhere you looked, there was somebody you either newly admired or had admired all your life," he recalls. "I just shamelessly took selfies with every single person I could. Half the time, I didn't even ask because I knew that they might say no. I would just say, 'I'm taking a selfie with you!' It was the ride of a lifetime, certainly, and something I will never, ever forget."
Grant has been working prolifically since he made his film debut at age 29 in 1987's Withnail and I. His latest project is The Lesson, a neo-noir thriller from first-time film director Alice Troughton. For his part, Grant has worked with legendary filmmakers and up-and-comers alike over the course of his career.
"The common denominator is talent. That invisible stuff, whatever it is, is the sexiest, most charismatic, and magnetic thing imaginable. That's what makes me want to go to work every day," he muses. "I'm hyper-curious, so I suppose I'm always hoping that somebody is going to surprise me, and then they do. Talent always surprises you."
Below, Grant shares with A.frame five of his favorite films of all time.
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola | Written by: Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola
I've never seen any movies that have been better cast, better written, better designed, better acted, better… bettered than The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. I think they are absolute masterpieces. I don't have a hard time picking [a favorite] whatsoever. It's The Godfather Part II — that's my favorite.
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola | Written by: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo
The Godfather Part II feels like the story of 20th-century America to me. When it shows Don Corleone arriving at Ellis Island and he sees the Statue of Liberty after traveling from Sicily, it's like every immigrant's dream. You think you're going to go to America and you're going to find your fortune, and then you see how that gets corrupted by the end of the story.
Al Pacino's performance is absolutely astonishing in the film, and the whole cast really is remarkable. I know there's a discussion now about how Talia Shire and Diane Keaton are really the only women with substantial roles in those two films, but I still think they're absolutely extraordinary.
Directed by: Bob Fosse | Written by: Jay Presson Allen
The movie musical that is my favorite is Cabaret, because the characters in it only sing in a place where it makes legitimate sense to sing. They don't just suddenly break out into song! Obviously, this film came out in 1972, so I suppose a lot of my favorites were all released in that New Hollywood window of 1972-1977 or so.
Directed by: Roman Polanski | Written by: Robert Towne
I think Robert Towne's script for Chinatown is extraordinary. The film deals with what is probably the greatest taboo of all, and the level of corruption in it is so surprising. It's this nostalgically-lit costume drama, but the contrast between what the film looks like and what's going on it is incredible. The ending of Chinatown itself, where Faye Dunaway is collapsed on the motorcar and the horn is just blaring endlessly, is very, very haunting. The whole movie is. Jack Nicholson is about as good as an actor can get in it as well. Faye Dunaway is also just extraordinary, and John Huston basically looks like the quintessential embodiment of corruption in the film.
Directed by: Woody Allen | Written by: Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman
I don't know whether I'll get canceled for saying this nowadays, but I just love Diane Keaton's performance in Annie Hall. She's not underage in it, either! It's not Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan saying, 'You’re the best lover I've ever had,' when she's 18 years old or whatever. Diane Keaton is a grown-up in Annie Hall, and her performance in the film is one of the great comedic performances in cinema.