My Secret Life: Richard E Grant, 55, actor

 

My parents were... understandably worried when I told them that I wanted to be a professional actor, because in Swaziland, where I grew up, there was no prospect of earning a living doing that.

The household I grew up in... was on top of a mountain with an incredible view down The Valley of Heaven.

When I was a child I wanted to be... an astronaut, because they landed on the moon when I was a 12-year-old. But as I failed all my maths O-level exams, being an actor was the next best thing. I would still like to go to the moon before I die.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'd have the ability to get by on four hours of sleep a night instead of the eight I require.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... holding my breath under water for a long time.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... hiding what I feel when somebody is boring the pants off me.

At night I dream of... going to the moon!

What I see when I look in the mirror... Gravity, working at terrifying speed.

It's not fashionable but I like... eating Christmas pudding at least once a month.

I drive... a 1932 Bugatti – in my dreams.

My house is... crammed from floor to ceiling with stuff – paintings, drawings, photographs, memorabilia...

My favourite work of art... It's two women, in a bed, by Toulouse-Lautrec. I think they're prostitutes, but it's early in the morning and all you see is their heads sticking out of the sheet, yakking to each other, and it is absolutely incredible at conveying the intimacy of friendship.

A book that changed me... Alice in Wonderland, because I read it every year and my understanding of the English class system and the English sense of humour and English eccentricity [grows each time]. It's unbeatable.

Movie heaven... any of Godfather I, II or III, in any order, at any time of the day, and any time of the year.

My greatest regret... That my father died at the age of 52 and never lived to see my daughter, his only grandchild.

My secret crush... Meryl Streep. I think she knows how much I dote upon her.

The person who really makes me laugh... Bruce Robinson, who wrote and directed me in two films.

My five-year plan... To stay alive, and to stay working. And to stay married. A three-pronged attack on all fronts.

What's the point? Serendipity amid the chaos.

My life in six words... Run, run, run, run, run, drop.

A LIFE IN BRIEF

Richard E Grant was born in 1957 and grew up in Swaziland. He moved to England in 1982 and made his acting debut in 1987 with Withnail and I, Bruce Robinson's cult film. He has since starred in numerous Hollywood films and TV dramas, including Gosford Park, Dracula, The Crimson Petal and the White and The Iron Lady. Grant recently worked as a mentor on the short film BOY for the British Airways Great Britons programme. He has one daughter, and lives in London with his wife.

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