In January this year I posted a portrait of British actor Richard E. Grant, ‘graphed with his iconic abbreviated ‘Reg’ signature; his initials. It was signed at the BFI London Film Festival’s Gala Screening of CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? Richard played Jack Hock, a small time criminal and drug dealer who helps frustrated, hard-drinking broke author Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) to sell forged letters and manuscripts of deceased celebrities. Both won several critics awards and were nominated for Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards.
As part of any ‘complete’ autograph collection it’s nice to include the variations a person may have with their signatures. At big events such as premieres, where large crowds gather a more ‘streamlined’ ‘graph enables the person to sign a lot more – some even shorten to a squiggle, mostly their christian and surname initials or even just a christian name.
Many tennis players, who in general are very good signers, use this siggy shorthand. Al Pacino often signs a stylized combo ‘AL’, Keira Knightley a simple ‘K’ or even less. When they are signing privately, in more relaxed surroundings, they have more time and are less rushed, so you usually get a more ‘fuller’ form. Which brings me to Richard, who I had meet on a few occasions at London events and when asked for his ‘graph he signed ‘Reg’.
It’s always great to meet people in person, but I was keen to collect a full ‘Richard E. Grant’, which I knew he did. It was time to use the post. I drew this quick montage of Richard as Jack Hock and sent it to him via his London agent. He kindly dedicated and signed it in full. Collection complete, unless, of course I discover another variation.
Richard E. Grant was sitting with his daughter Olivia in a restaurant in Notting Hill Gate watching the live feed of this year’s Oscar nominations with earpieces in. They both burst into tears when his name was included in the Best Supporting Actor shortlist. After nearly four decades in the business, the 61-year-old British actor had finally won awards recognition with Academy, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations for his acclaimed performance as the ‘decaying dandy’ Jack Hock in CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
Richard, a teetotaller, returns to the same sozzled theatrical brilliance of his debut, when he played the perpetually inebriated title character in the cult film WITHNAIL AND I. Jack Hock is a drunken, gay grifter who was the real life partner-in-crime of down and out celebrity biographer Lee Israel, (Melissa McCarthy) who turned to literary forgery to make ends meet. Variety magazine’s Peter Debruge wrote about Richard’s character, “Jack can hardly pass a fire hydrant without asking for its phone number.” The real Jack Hock died of AIDS at the age of 47 in 1994.
It would be quicker to list the critic and festival Supporting Actor awards that Richard hasn’t won this year. And he has been part of ensemble casts that have won awards in the past, most notably his role as George in GOSFORD PARK, which won the SAG award in 2001, among others. Richard will be seen in STAR WARS EPISODE IX but we don’t know his character as yet land he’s been sworn to secrecy.
Richard attended the Gala Screening of CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square during last October’s BFI Film Festival. He managed to quickly sign for most of the large crowd that gathered with his iconic ‘reg’ initials graph, including one on my sketch.
Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of the late celebrity biographer and literary forger Leonore ‘Lee’ Israel in the dark-comedy drama biopic CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? has been recognised by all the major awards this year, including the Screen Actors Guild, the Golden Globes, BAFTA and Academy Award Best Actress nominations. The film is based on Lee’s 2008 confessional autobiography with the same title.
In desperate need of money in the early 1990’s, with her career flatlining, writers block, rent in arrears, alcoholism and a sick twelve-year-old cat with large vet bills, she turns to forging the letters of deceased celebrated writers like Noel Coward and Ernest Hemingway to earn an income. ‘CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?’ is a line which Lee adds to one of her forged letters by celebrated satirist and critic Dorothy Parker after a monumental hangover. “I’m a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker,” she says in one of the film’s memorable lines.
This is Melissa’s second Oscar, BAFTA and SAG combo nominations, having earned a Best Supporting Actress nod for her performance as Megan in the 2011 comedy BRIDESMAIDS. She is no stranger to winning either, having collected two Emmys for MIKE & MOLLY and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, where her 2017 impersonation of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was a highlight. Her role as the sad-sack anti-heroine Lee has also collected a clutch of critics awards from New York, Boston, San Francisco,Vancouver to name a few and the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Melissa attended the Gala Screening of CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? at Cineworld’s Empire Cinema in Leicester Square for the BFI London Film Festival last October. She loved this sketch and was more than happy to sign it… with her real name, so it’s not a forgery!