Home Entertainment Richard E Grant Describes ‘Complicated Gratitude’ as His Mother Dies Aged 93

Richard E Grant Describes ‘Complicated Gratitude’ as His Mother Dies Aged 93


Richard E Grant has announced that his mother has died aged 93, saying he has “complicated gratitude” for the woman who gave him the “gift of life”.

The Withnail And I star, 66, spoke in a Twitter video on Thursday about his relationship with his mother, Leonne Esterhuysen.

He said: “I saw that I had eight missed calls from Africa and knew immediately why, which proved to be that my 93-year-old mother died this morning.

“We had an incredibly complicated relationship, and she’ll be somebody that was, for me anyway, emotionally withdrawn, and withheld her approbation or approval of anything, so nothing was quite good enough.

“What that proved to be is a great motor for ambition and determination to try and prove yourself, and be the best that you possibly can, and yet, ironically, whatever she did, she demanded and got applause and approval from everybody around her, including me.”

Grant, who was born in Swaziland, now Eswatini, announced the death of his wife, Joan Washington, in September 2021.

He added: “I went to stay with her for a couple of weeks, six weeks after my wife had died, with Covid restrictions being lifted, and she sent me a very terse email at the end of the trip, saying ‘I regret to say all of this was an absolute disaster. We only have two things in common, books and classical music’.

“So whereas she was very physically untactile, I’ve gone the opposite extreme, so I’ve been a very tactile, loving father and husband, I suppose in response to that.

“Do I feel sadness that she has died? I feel resignation more than anything, but most of all gratitude, for having given me life.”

Olivia Grant, Richard E. Grant and Joan Washington

He previously told BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs about his prolonged estrangement from his mother, after discovering her cheating on his father, though they later reconciled.

Grant also said his father had turned to drinking after their divorce, and once tried to kill him after he poured away his alcohol.

“Having said that, my memory of him is so much more than remembering that part of him, because I knew that that was something that was entirely brought about by addiction rather than the man that I absolutely worshipped and loved,” he told the BBC radio show.

Grant, also known for crime biography Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which earned him an Oscar and Bafta nod, as well as period drama Gosford Park and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, married Washington in 1986 and they had a daughter, Olivia.

Washington, a voice coach and his wife of 35 years, died at the age of 74, and had a son, Tom, from a previous relationship.

Although Grant did not give a cause of death in his initial announcement, he later confirmed his wife had died of lung cancer.

This year he hosted the film Baftas.

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