“A common denominator that I have noticed among actors is this thing of having low self-esteem on one hand and a large ego on the other.” – Richard E. Grant
Though Richard E. Grant has been working steadily and successfully in film since his debut in 1987’s Withnail & I, it wasn’t until this year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? that he finally got nominated for a Golden Globe, playing alcoholic Jack Hock opposite Melissa McCarthy‘s literary forger, Lee Isreal. In the wake of the acclaim for his performance in the film, Grant participated in the latest edition of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Actors Roundtable and spoke about how there was “no precedent” for his success as an actor and the self-esteem and ego issues that many actors seem to struggle with.
The character actor explains that few people, if anyone, understood his dream to become an actor. He recalls, “There was no precedent where I grew up [in Swaziland] of doing that. And my father was genuinely worried that I’d spend my life in tights and makeup and be destitute. All of which has come true. (Laughter.) It was a childhood passion, but people said: ‘How can you be an actor? You look too weird. You’ve got a face like a tombstone.’ I said, ‘Well, Donald Sutherland has become an actor and he’s very tall and has a long face. So f— it.'”
Like many actors, he admits that he falls somewhere between not believing in his own abilities and being over-confident. Grant told the roundtable, “A common denominator that I have noticed among actors is this thing of having low self-esteem on one hand and a large ego on the other. And my confidence is so index-linked to whether I am working or what I am working on. What you have done before doesn’t count. You are saying, ‘I want this job ahead of you guys,’ but at the same time you think, ‘I don’t feel as worthy as those guys for the job.’ That’s something that I am beset by.”