Stigma meant my alcoholic father couldn’t get help, says Richard E Grant

But the 'Withnail and I' actor told The Big Issue his late father gave invaluable advice

Star of screen and stage Richard E Grant has told The Big Issue his father became “a violent alcoholic” after his parents’ divorce.

Speaking in a Letter To My Younger Self this week, Grant described a personality switch at night which culminated in his father attempting – and failing – to shoot him at close range after Grant “emptied a crate of [his father’s] Scotch whisky down the sink”.

The Withnail and I actor added: “There was no treatment nor AA meetings available, and the social stigma was such that everything was kept secret.

“Christmas was invariably a nightmare, with everyone on tenterhooks. So I have made up for it as an adult by celebrating Christmas to the max.”

However he said that some of the most invaluable advice he has received was from his late father, who told him: If you have five true friends, consider yourself a rich man.


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Still reflecting on his childhood, Grant said that being teased for wanting to be an actor helped prepare him for the “derision and rejection that is part and parcel of an actor’s life”.

“Once I got used to being told ‘you’ll never make it’, it strengthened my resolve to prove those naysayers wrong,” he said. “Where that determination and self-belief comes from is a mystery, but wanting to prove yourself is a very powerful force.”

The actor, whose new movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? hits cinemas February 1, would tell his younger self to never give up and avoid imitating anyone else.

He added: “I am just grateful that my teenage dream came true, in spite of being pants at maths.”

Read the full letter in this week’s Big Issue.

Read the full article in this week's Big Issue.
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