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With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant
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With Nails: The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  820 ratings  ·  54 reviews
First comes Grant's first big break, the starring role in Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I, the cult film that set Grant's career on a path bound for stardom—"I had no notion that, almost without exception, every film offered since would be the result of playing an alcoholic-out-of-work actor." Like Dante's Virgil he guides the reader through the hell of the making of Hudso ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1996)
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3.81  · 
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 ·  820 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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This would have been completely fabulous if I were more interested in Hollywood. I had some reservations for a while, thinking I preferred it when I knew less about Richard E. Grant and had the image of him as Withnail-but-sober, but by the end I was completely won over by his wonderful blend of OTT campness, anxiety and moments of witty bitching tempered by his self-awareness and fundamental human decency. He made me interested in material I wouldn't otherwise have cared for. Straight afterward ...more
Sean Kennedy
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best showbiz autobiographies around, Richard E. Grant speaks through the page as if you are having a drink with a good friend and telling the craziest stories. The section on Hudson Hawk, and all its Hollywood extravagance and egotistical rampaging, is worth the price of purchase alone.
Thomas Hetherington
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Refreshingly bitchy and honestly narcissistic in a way that’s truly endearing.
Dec 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
This book is ideal for anyone interested in the day-to-day business of being a working Hollywood actor. It also helps to be a fan of Richard E. Grant and to be familiar with his body of work, which this book details from 'Withnail and I' in 1987 to 'Prêt-à-Porter' in 1994 (though the epilogue touches on REG's performance in 1997's unforgettable 'Spiceworld').

With Nails is basically a collection of REG's journal entries from his time working on these films and in-between acting gigs. The entries
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Yep, it's official, I could not love this man any more. I am relieved that he is as deliciously eccentric in real life as he is on the screen. I read the section on Withnail and I with such gluttonous pleasure, I kept re-reading passages for their sheer perfection. The simple fact that Grant is teetotal in real life and yet played the best pisshead to ever live - is nothing short of genius. Not only did I love the madness behind the scenes of my favourite ever movie, I was bowled over by the per ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-white-square
My Japanese-fiction-athon was to have lasted until the end of the month, but I'm ending it early to read "With Nails" as a tribute to Richard Griffiths who died yesterday.


He's too kind! These nails are trimmed. Still fun, and interesting about how movies get made, but not a bitch-fest.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, film
A welcome re-read (I bought the book, according to a note I’d inscribed, in Bath in 1997 and read it that year) for the film diaries of Richard E Grant. REG, as he refers to himself, gives us a little of his pre-film history but most of the content covers his times working from “Withnail & I” through to “Pret A Porter” (“How To Get Ahead In Advertising” is referenced often, but his diaries covering the period aren’t included). As a diarist, REG is about the best company you could possibly ha ...more
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As somebody who is generally interested in Hollywood, but couldn't care less about celebrity gossip, this still managed to hit a sweet spot with me in terms of being the story, largely, of a witty, attentive, nice guy cataloging the weirdest behavior of a species (directors, writers and actors, all) that we will never ever have to meet or see. It's not mean, as such, but often has a tone of bewilderment in the face of what happens.

Like The Kid Stays in the Picture, but written by a nice guy with
Nicola Cairncross
Absolutely Lived It!

Withnail is still the only film I can watch over again and again! So to discover this book sent me wild with quiet joy. It delivered a self-deprecating race through the extreme nuttiness of the movie world and many laugh out loud moments in public places! Thank you REG!
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've never seen or heard of Withnail. Was only vaguely aware there is an actor named Richard E Grant. Came across this one referenced in a forum and read it specifically to read about the horribad that is Hudson Hawk (a staple on TBS when I was growing up). Did not disappoint. Author's writing style is a bit colloquial and I had a difficult time understanding the sheer Britishness of it.
Elliot Richards
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
In a word, entertaining. Fascinating insight and dare I say it treads personally familiar ground on general acting anxiety. I really enjoyed how personal it felt, and with the humour, it was a really good read, disappointed that it had to end, it's made me dig out some of his films to watch again anew!
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny, relatable, astute and moving.
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This was good and gossipy but not fulfilling. It left me wondering ‘why’?
Really it was quite a superficial diary rather than an autobiography so too thin, easy read but could have been far more!
John Macey
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fast, funny, and entertaining read. Great journal of an actor on his way up in Hollywood.
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. I wish I could get my hands on the newer version, which includes his experience working on "Spiceworld."
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Really enjoyed this book. REG is a great communicator, and it translates well to the page. Stories on the sets were touching, hilarious, and surprising.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it
It drags a bit but it's a little time capsule
Basia Korzeniowska
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
VEry enjoyable, wittily written and has had the effect of making me want to see some of the films, which I had never heard of! Henry and June is one of them
I have been a fan of this film diaries project since I read it upon its 1998 release, having been a big fan Richard Grant’s performances in two Bruce Robinson films (Withnail & I and How to Get Ahead in Advertising) as well as his smaller roles in films like The Player, LA Story, and Dracula to the schlock fests of Warlock and Hudson Hawk. I most enjoyed this book the first time I read it, as it seems to lose its luster upon subsequent reads (I had forgotten Grant’s excessive use of ALL CAPS ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
I think how you get on with a book depends, to an extent, on what you're feeling at the time you read it. Over the past few weeks I've been very busy and reading time has been at a minimum. Usually at times like this I need a book which will grab me and will keep my attention for a while. Unfortunately this book didn't, and I struggled to read 2 or 3 pages a night before falling asleep (hence why it's taken me so long to read!)

The book is a chronicle of Richard's (AKA "REG") time on his first fe
James Lark
A book which dives into the razzmatazz of the filmmaking, Hollywood and superstar celebrity could easily try one's patience, but this one makes for an immensely enjoyable read, thanks in no small part to Richard E. Grant's wide-eyed, childish delight at the glitzy, over the top world he finds himself in. His enthusiasm rockets off the page, and though it's hardly a disciplined piece of prose, somehow his hyperbole and caps lock excitement perfectly communicate the madness around him, even though ...more
Oct 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, memoir
I really enjoyed the start of this book, but what made it so enjoyable in the beginning began to pall by the end, hence a 3 star rating.

Some reviews seem to focus on the use of CAPITALS throughout the book - which seems a petty point to me. Ok, perhaps he could have used italics or embolden the text instead, but perhaps you just need to work through these aversions people?

The book starts strongly: depicting his struggle as an actor, then through a quirk of fortune he gets a break: Withnail and I
Although I love Richard E. Grant's acting and this memoir does contain a LOT of truly funny and interesting anecdotes, I found it hard to persevere to the end of the book. Can't say for sure why I ran out of steam...

Except maybe I was a little disappointed to find that Grant isn't exactly what you'd call down to earth and that the hyper dramatic thespian is more a part of his autobiography than I would have liked.

But to be fair, how ridiculous is it to criticize an actor for acting too much li
There were funny bits to start with and I loved hearing Kevin Spacey telling his stories but the style of writing in this book was quickly getting on my nerves. Whenever Richard was repeating a conversation he had he WAS SHOUTING ALL THE WORDS OUT JUST LIKE I AM DOING AND IT WAS GIVING ME A DAMN HEADACHE!Every page had these lines and lines of capital letter ranting and it was bugging the hell out of me so I abandoned the book.
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, film
Remarkably candid and never less than amusing, REG (how he refers to himself) takes us through his breakthrough role (Withnail) and on, breezing past How To Get Ahead In Advertising but touching on most projects. Never apparently afraid to tell it how he sees it, this is a cracking read and picks up on some top quality films from the 80s and early 90s.
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this. Genuinely loved this, he should be a novelist as his writing is wonderful and vivid it's also packed with humour bitchiness and the kind of behind the scenes knowledge and gossip that no celeb magazine has. I've never felt so relieved when someone got out of Budapest in my life.

Genuine must for everyone!
Ellen Herbert
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a perfectly entertaining read - lots of juicy stories and the sense of manic frenzy and eccentricity that is the movie industry. Richard Grant writes just as one would expect him too - addressing that which no one else does, funny, funny moments and observations and a kind of breathless anxiety throughout.
Susan Rose
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really entertaining look into behind the scenes, some sections were more interesting than others. The first third of the book talks about the process of making Withnail and I which is one of my favourite films, so that was great.

Essentially if you are fan of Richard E Grant or his films then I would recommend this.
While Grant doesn't manage to produce something compulsively readable, this is an interesting bio particularly for the tour of directors/producers - the impact of the personality and different methods of the people in charge on the actors and crew.

And a hell of a lot of names.
David Tendo
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Loved this one. I've always been a fan of Richard E. Grant, his memoirs that takes us through his experiences of being an unemployed actor, the times when he's making his best movies and his personal life is extremely funny, heartfelt and honest.
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