The reason Richard E. Grant's character in "Dom Hemingway" seems a perfect fit is because the role was written for him. Director/writer Richard Shepard talked to the veteran actor on Skype a couple of years ago to tell him about the writing plan.
Then months passed.
"I was startled and surprised a year later when Richard contacted me and said the script was done. Once he told me that Jude Law was going to play the lead, it was a no-brainer to say yes to being in the film," Grant says.
Grant plays Dickie Black, the best friend and criminal partner to notorious safecracker Dom Hemingway (Law). The release of Hemingway from prison after a dozen years sends the two on a series of strange adventures that tests Black's nerves and convictions.
Shepard's decision to create the role for the 56-year-old Grant came from his viewing of the actor's first feature film, the 1987 release "Withnail & I."
When Shepard was a struggling writer, he used the last of his money to rent a video copy of the movie. Grant's not certain if the director was impressed with the performance or if it's because he failed to return the video and had to pay a hefty late fee. Casting Grant could be a way of recouping that rental fee.
Some actors get followers for one project. Grant's worked on three high-profile TV shows with loads of fans: "Doctor Who," "Downton Abbey" and "Girls."
"I am stopped every single day by those who know me for 'Girls.' Between that show and my work with 'Doctor Who' and 'Downton Abbey,' I feel like I have hit the lottery," Grant says.
Grant is happy to be part of "Dom Hemingway" because he gets to play such a rich character.
"The character also has a great look because the costume designer came up with these tinted glasses and a mullet hairdo that looks like it came out of the 1970s. He's fallen in with Dom Hemingway and because they are such opposites, they end up complementing each other," Grant says.
And speaking of compliments, Grant can't say enough about working with Law. He was astonished at how Law came to work each day ready to dive into a role that was deeply demanding and incredibly draining.
Shepard put a lot of dialogue into the script. It helped that the actors would rehearse in advance, as if they were doing a stage production. Grant calls that a luxury that's rare when it comes to TV and film production.
One of the biggest action scenes in the movie is a car crash that Shepard stages like a water ballet. It's shot in such an artistic style, the scene took days to film.
"It was an exhausting shoot but also exhilarating," Grant says. "At the end, it was just a good time."