Fans of Richard E Grant have long argued he should have won an Academy Award in 1987 for his star turn in the cult classic Withnail and I – so his joyous response to an Oscars nomination 32 years later is being devoured like a bottle of red at Uncle Monty’s windswept shack.
The British actor’s best supporting actor nod for his role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? has prompted a series of emotional Twitter posts from Grant, saying the recognition was “beyond anything I could have ever hoped or dreamt or imagined”.
Grant’s refreshingly exultant reaction to his nomination culminated on Wednesday when he was moved to tears when his lifelong idol Barbra Streisand responded to a fan letter he’d written at age 14 inviting her to a “family holiday” at his house in Swaziland.
He had earlier posted the letter and a picture of himself outside Streisand’s California home saying “my wife is very understanding”.
In the letter, Grant wrote: “You don’t know me yet, but I am writing to offer you an idea you might like to consider. My name is Richard and I live in a small African kingdom called Swaziland in south-east Africa.”
“I read in the paper that you were feeling very tired and pressurised by your fame and failed romance with Mr Ryan O’Neal.
“I would like to offer you a two week holiday, or longer, at our house, which is very beautiful with a pool and a magnificent view of the Ezulwini Valley.
“No-one will trouble you and I assure you you will not be mobbed in the street as your films only show in our one cinema for three days, so not that many people will know who you are, so no chance of being mobbed. Please consider this respite seriously. You will always be welcome.”
While the young Grant had hoped for a “hasty reply”, it took Streisand 47 years to get back to him.
She tweeted on Wednesday thanking him for the “wonderful letter” and wishing him the best for the Oscars.
It elicited a teary response.
Grant – who has landed a key role in the next Star Wars film – has been on an emotional rollercoaster since the Oscars nomination, posting a video of himself outside the flat her first rented when her came to London looking for work as an actor.
Grant also celebrated the gifted return of his original script from his break out role in Withnail and I, which had been bought at a charity auction by radio host Chris Evans.
Grant recently told the Irish Times that he owed his entire career to the cult film which is why it would be “insanity” for him not to embrace it and its fans.
“I don’t understand somebody not wanting to discuss the role that gave them their screen identity or that became the talismanic role of their career,” he told the newspaper.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think thank God for Withnail and I. The irony will never be lost on me that playing an out of work actor has helped me get every job I’ve had since.”