Tall, gangly, and possessed of a frenetic intensity that lends itself to the highly eccentric and often borderline insane characters he plays, British actor Richard E. Grant is nothing if not one of the more distinctive performers to have gained celluloid immortality. His wild eyes and high-strung demeanor occasionally giving him an uncanny resemblance to a meerkat on speed, Grant has been delighting and shocking observers with both his on- and off-screen persona since his 1987 breakthrough in Withnail & I.
Born Richard Grant Esterhuysen on May 5, 1957, in Mbabane, Swaziland, Grant had a somewhat distinctive upbringing, thanks in part to his father's job as the Swazi Minister of Education. His parents' divorce when the actor was 11, for example, was the source of a fair amount of scandal in South Africa. For his part, Grant knew early on that he wanted to be an actor, something that was fueled by an infatuation with Barbra Streisand and a steady diet of movies. He followed the career of Donald Sutherland with particularly rapt attention, as, like Grant, Sutherland was tall, thin, long-faced, and hailed from the middle of nowhere.