Richard E Grant binged Drag Race to prepare for Everybody's Talking About Jamie

·3-min read
Richard E Grant binged Drag Race to prepare for Everybody's Talking About Jamie

Richard E Grant has a huge CV of roles he's accumulated over the years: science fiction and superhero works like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Doctor Who, Loki and Logan, dramatic pieces like Can You Ever Forgive Me? and The Age of Innocence, and cult classics like Withnail & I and Spice World: The Movie.

Now he's taking on a different kind of role for Everybody's Talking About Jamie, the film adaptation of the hit musical based on the real-life story of a teenager who becomes a drag queen at 16.

The actor is playing Hugo/Loco Chanelle, Jamie's drag mentor, in the film. As preparation for the role, Grant did what we've all done over the last year (if not earlier) and binge-watched RuPaul's Drag Race.

Photo credit: 20th Century Studios/Film4/Regency Films
Photo credit: 20th Century Studios/Film4/Regency Films

Related: Everybody's Talking About Jamie dazzles in first reviews ahead of Amazon release

Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, the star said he had never sung or danced in a movie before, and had never done drag, which meant he was feeling a fair bit of "terror" going into the role.

"[Director] Jonathan Butterell put me in contact with a brilliant drag queen called David Hoyle, who is a master, who I met many times in London," he said. "I went to see his show in Brighton. I'd never seen a drag show in my life. And his vulnerability and melancholia, and having been a success when he was younger, absolutely informed how I could be as Hugo.

"And then I went to virtual drag school – I binge-watched 11 series of RuPaul's Drag Race in three weeks.

"When I saw how sassy, and how much shade these drag queens threw at each other, and how flamboyant they were, and unapologetic – I thought, 'Anything I do where I'm thinking, you've got to downplay this, or you can't play the obvious things'... that just goes out the window.

"Because drag queens, for real, are larger than life, and are campy, and fabulous, and extraordinary, and very verbally vicious. I thought, 'Well, you've got to go for it. You can't do this in half measures.' So I gained courage from that."

Photo credit: 20th Century Studios
Photo credit: 20th Century Studios

Related: Loki star Richard E Grant discusses Marvel future

When he first saw himself fully dragged up, Grant stated that he was "amazed". He said: "I was almost 6 foot 8 inches tall with the wig and the heels. And as Jonathan predicted, he said, 'A sort of drag persona comes out of you, because you've got this warpainted warrior outfit on.'

"And it’s true. It did happen. It took a long time to happen but once I got used to the idea, I thought, 'Alright. You can go and do this.'

"But what nobody warned me about is that once you’re tucked and spanked and tight-ed up to the eyeballs, and then the killer heels, you can't go to the loo.

"You take tiny sips of water through a straw not to mess up your lipliner. I had bladder control for about 14 hours during the days when I had to actually be in drag. That's the bit that RuPaul never, ever discusses."

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is released on Amazon Prime Video on September 17. For more about the movie, check out the latest issue of Digital Spy Magazine on Apple News+.

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