Richard E. Grant: Back to Africa
Actor conserves, takes part in Swazi festival.
Wed, May 16, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Photo courtesy Richard E. Grant
Richard E. Grant takes the train instead of driving and avoids using plastic bags whenever possible, reads his newspaper online, and supports shark conservation efforts and Friends of the Earth, a charity based in London, where he lives. But the actor best known for such films as "Withnail and I," "The Player," "Gosford Park" and most recently, "The Iron Lady," now available OnDemand and on DVD/Blu-ray, has roots elsewhere: he's a native of Swaziland, where his father was once Minister of Education, and returns to the African country every year. He'll be there May 25-27 for the annual MTN Bushfire music, culture and arts festival, held at the House on Fire venue.
The founders of the festival are sons of a good friend, the late Jenny Thorn. "She arrived from London in 1969 with a free spirited attitude that was a breath of fresh air. She created Gone Rural co-operative to empower women by providing a shop outlet to sell basket work and local sculpture. It mushroomed and led to the creation of a restaurant, pub and her sons then built an open-air theater and music venue that was where the Bushfire festival originated," explains Grant, who performed in plays at the venue as a youth and feels indebted for those formative experiences, and jumped at the chance to be a patron for the festival and honor the country of his birth. "Even though I've been living in London for the past three decades, I still go back once a year and it still exerts an enormous pull for me. My father is buried there and all my childhood memories and friends keep me going back."
Grant, a native of Mbabane, began in puppet and marionette theater and school and amateur plays there before attending Cape Town University to study English and drama, and founded the Troupe Theatre company after graduation. His goal is "to stay employed as an actor and director," and he's currently doing so by recording a voice for the upcoming animated film "Zambezia," shooting "Kath & Kimderella," based on the long-running TV series "Kath & Kim," a hit in England and Australia, and hosting a six-part TV series about famous hotels for the BBC. He's interviewing Donald Trump and other hotel biz icons for the series, which will showcase hot spots in London, Paris, New York and Las Vegas.