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They’re back for one more bender

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:34 am    Post subject: They’re back for one more bender Reply with quote

They’re back for one more bender: Withnail and I get together again

From The Times
October 20, 2007
by Jack Malvern

We last saw them together by London Zoo’s wolf enclosure, parting mournfully in the rain at the end of the most memorable drink and drugs bender in British cinema.

One film – Withnail and I – was enough to place Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann among the great screen double acts in the eyes of generations of fans who still “demand to have some booze” and smoke “Camberwell carrots”, echoing memorable lines from Bruce Robinson’s film some 20 years after it was made.

It was assumed that the pair had grown apart or fallen out because they have not worked together since, but Grant and McGann have been reunited at The Times BFI 51st London Film Festival after a young director plucked up the courage to ask them to appear in his short film.

The result, entitled Always Crashing in the Same Car, was available free to Times readers who downloaded a copy.

Withnail and I flopped at the box office on its release in 1988 but the tale of two struggling actors with a penchant for drugs, booze and lighter fluid taking a chaotic trip to the Lake District became a cult hit in student film clubs, repertory cinemas and on video.

McGann narrated as the nervous “I” character, in thrall to Grant’s monstrous, magnetic hedonist Withnail.

After the film came out, Grant headed for Hollywood, working for Robert Altman (The Player), Francis Ford Coppola (Dracula) and the Spice Girls (Spice World). He found time to write a bestselling memoir, With Nails, and a novel, By Design.

McGann has made only sporadic film appearances, with bit parts in several large films, including Empire of the Sun, and leading roles in a handful of smaller projects.

His diverse TV work, building on his breakthrough role as a dashing army officer in The Monocled Mutineer (BBC, 1986), has included becoming the eighth Doctor Who in a 1996 telemovie.

He told The Times how the “old magic” returned when he and Grant were thrown together again. “The great thing about Richard is that he hits the ball back,” he said. “We were straight back into it. Richard and I are very good friends.

“We never argue with each other but when we’re on screen this rivalry comes out. We were at each other’s throats. We’re childishly competitive.”

Grant portrays an alpha male executive who is undermined by a man who ostensibly works for him but who takes control when the executive causes a fatal car accident.

Duncan Wellaway, who wrote and directed the 12-minute drama, said that he did not set out to reunite the actors. He recruited McGann when he bumped into him at a film festival in Dinard, northwest France, and approached several other actors, including David Thewlis, to fill the other principal role before McGann made a suggestion. Mr Wellaway, 36, recalled that McGann asked him: “What about Richard?” He responded: “Richard who?”

“I had no idea that he meant Richard E. Grant,” Mr Wellaway said. “A month went by and I was checking my e-mails at work and one came up from ‘Richard E. Grant’. I thought that it was a wind-up. His e-mail said: ‘If you haven’t cast it already then I’d like to do it.’ I thought, bloody hell, I’ve got Withnail and I.”

The director did not think to ask McGann if Grant would be interested because he assumed that they had fallen out after the success of Withnail. “The fact they never worked again means you presume that something may have gone wrong.”

McGann said that there had been several attempts by other directors to reunite them but the projects fell through. “It’s a strange one. No one ever cast us in the same thing. Richard went off [and worked in America]. One would have thought by the law of averages we’d be put together again in 20 years, but it didn’t happen.”

He said that neither he nor Grant could ever enjoy Withnail and I as a film because it was too familiar. “It was like watching a home movie or holiday photographs. But we watched it together recently at the BFI [British Film Institute] and it was the first time we were able to watch it as a picture and laugh at the jokes.”

The short film, which cost less than £50,000 to make, is produced by Zoe Ball, the former Radio 1 disc jockey, and financed by Handmade Films, which funded Withnail and I.

McGann added that fans of Withnail would recognise some of the chemistry that he and Grant showed in 1987, particularly the fruity language. “Richard does swear rather beautifully,” he said.

From flop to cult classic

–– Withnail and I cost £1.1 million to make

–– It was voted the third greatest comedy and 13th greatest British film by Total Film magazine

–– The film is adapted from an unpublished novel by Bruce Robinson. The original ending saw Withnail pour wine into the barrel of Monty’s shotgun and pull the trigger as he drank from it

–– Withnail drinks nine glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, a shot of lighter fluid, two shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, 13 glasses of whisky and half a pint of ale

“The greatest decade in the history of mankind is coming to an end and as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black” Danny the dealer on the end of the 1960s “I invented it in Camberwell, and it looks like a carrot” Danny the drug dealer “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now”

Withnail offends patrons of the Penrith Tea Rooms
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Joined: 10 Dec 2007
Posts: 354
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder what Paul and Reg think about being in a movie that is called a "cult classic" now - does it make them feel like dinosaurs? Laughing
Gibbs: "And why do they use such weird names?"
Tony: "When you're a computer geek invading dungeons and fighting ogres, 'Jethro' doesn't cut it.
Tony: "Neither does 'Tony'."

Navy NCIS Naval Criminal Investigative Service 2003
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I heard somewhere (was it here) that someone encountered Paul at the hotel bar at a con and invited him for drinks with friends at a room party. And he said, 'Why? I'm already drinking the finest wines available to humanity!'

Reg, on the other hand, I read in an interview is a little disgruntled about it because people say they loved him in 'his movie' ... and he keeps thinking they mean something besides W&I.

(I personally thought he was also brilliant in Hudson Hawk, but that could just be me.)
TVM Drinking Game (updated!):

One for:
~ 'Two hearts'
~ 'Thirteen lives'
~ A clock
~ 90s-grade CG
~ Reference to Puccini/Madame Butterfly

Two for:
~ Gratuitous Doctor Who continuity
~ Overtly Messianic imagery
~ Beryllium/atomic clock
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Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 574
Location: Maine & CT, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

>–– The film is adapted from an unpublished novel by Bruce Robinson.

Does anyone know if Robinson ever had the novel form of W&I published?

I was looking for it and didn't find it in the narrative/novel form. It's a wonderful script and film, of course. I can't help but wonder about the unpublished novel form of it, which I'm imagining as being more expansive with description, manipulating time, giving the characters more interior monologue and thoughts and so forth that you cannot really do considering the nature of a screenplay vrs a novel.
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