Richard E. Grant Makes the Most of His Screen Time

Fox Searchlight’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”centers on biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) when she is broke and desperate, and begins forging celebrity letters. Israel has encounters with multiple characters, but it’s the love-hate relationship with friend and accomplice Jack Hock (Grant) that audiences remember, even though he only enters one-third into the film.

To begin research, Grant read Israel’s 2008 memoirs. “It was her voice, in all its scabrous wit, but she was very scant on detail about Jack Hock. It’s a real achievement that [scriptwriters] Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty were able to extrapolate those few hints or suggestions and create a full character.”

He also credits the “brilliant” costume designer Arjun Bhasin. “The film starts in 1991, but he gave me clothes that were neo-Romantic, early-1980s. So they were a little threadbare, and worn by a character who was past his sell-by date. For Jack, the wardrobe was Custer’s last stand to charm his way throughout the world before destitution and/or AIDS got him.”

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