Hero of the day: Withnail

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Job Failing vinegar-tongued thespian.

Special powers The ability to get very drunk, shoot his mouth off, act like a coward then deliver a superlative one liner (‘Don’t threaten me with a dead fish!’).

He said ‘Balls! We want the finest wines availible to humanity. We want them here, and we want them now.’

Richard E. Grant said ‘People that have seen Withnail said that I
am very like Vivian MacKerrell, the guy Withnail is based on, was. But
he died of throat cancer, drinking a bottle of scotch down a tube into
his stomach at the age of forty-seven a few years ago…’

Finest hour
There are far too many. After the Python films, Withnail is probably the most quoted man in history! The moment when he slurs ‘Look at that, look at that. Accident black spot. These aren’t accidents. They’re throwing themselves into the road gladly. Throwing themselves into the road to escape all this hideousness’ is hard to beat.

Did you know? Richard E Grant secured the role of Withnail after four auditions and (allegedly) a ‘weight-loss program’ that included protein drinks, recommended to him by fellow thesp Gary Oldman.

Although swearing that he was never fat, director/writer Bruce Robinson described him as a ‘chubby Dirk Bogarde’ – telling him that ‘half of you has got to go’ before he could play the part.

It was the line ‘Fork it!’ that assured Robinson that Grant was the right man for the part. The director later described the arrest scene as ‘the best drunk acting I’ve ever seen’ – an impressive feat when you consider that Grant is teetotal.

Other actors considered for the role of Withnail included Daniel Day Lewis, Bill Nighy and Ed Tudor-Pole (later to be seen in The Crystal Maze). [Via this great Withnail & I fansite]

Why we love him Due to his consuming of vast amounts of alcohol during the film, he has inspired people the world over trying to keep up glass for glass. Should you be thinking of it, you’ll need roughly 9½ glasses of red wine, half a pint of cider, 1 shot of lighter fluid, 2½ shots of gin, 6 glasses of sherry, 13 glasses of whisky and half a pint of ale.

Withnail on YouTube