Richard E. Grant, who has earned his first Oscar nomination at the age of 61, said recently he expected to have been put out to pasture by this stage in his career.
He made his film debut in the 1987 cult classic Withnail And I, starring as the eponymous Withnail, an alcoholic actor with delusions of grandeur.
Grant has since starred on both the big and small screens, with appearances as John Seward in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as parts in Downton Abbey and Game Of Thrones.
Each acting job he has since secured was a “direct result” of Withnail And I, Grant said this week.
He is enjoying a career renaissance and has come to critical attention for his role as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? alongside Melissa McCarthy, who plays literary forger Lee Israel.
Both picked up Oscar nods on Tuesday.
Reacting to his nomination Grant, who holds dual citizenship for the UK and Swaziland, said: “For a boy growing up in Swaziland, the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, becoming an actor seemed an impossible dream, let alone being nominated for an Oscar. Am literally levitating!!”
Grant told ITV News he “burst into tears” when he heard the news while he was having lunch in Notting Hill, west London.
“I was having lunch and my daughter had it on an iPhone and was watching the live feed and she had an earpiece in and we sort of looked at each other and she said ‘you’ve been nominated’. Could not believe it.”
He said getting nomination after 40 years in showbusiness was “beyond anything that I could have possibly imagined”.
The Oscar nomination adds to Golden Globe and Bafta nods Grant has already earned this awards season.
Later this year he will star in Star Wars: Episode IX. Grant, who said he has been wide-eyed on the set of Disney’s blockbuster, insisted he was not taking the success for granted.
Speaking to Deadline in November, he said: “I expected to be retired and sent out to the field with the other donkeys to graze on the daisies.
“And then all this other stuff happens. I’m very grateful for it, I don’t take it for granted.”