Few individuals can leap from world to world as frequently and triumphantly as Richard E. Grant. We caught up with the distinguished actor to talk past, present and perfume.
You’re a famously busy man, what have you been doing of late?
I've just completed four episodes of Downton Abbey playing Simon Bricker, an Art Historian friend of the Crawley family and of course launching my first bespoke perfume, JACK at Liberty and online.
How did you make the leap from acting to the decidedly different world of fragrance?
I’ve compulsively sniffed everything in sight since I was a boy and tried to make perfume out of gardenia and rose petals in boiled sugar water and jam jars when I was growing up in Swaziland. Two years ago, handbag supremo Anya Hindmarch saw me with my head in a gardenia bush in the Caribbean and asked if I had ever thought of creating a perfume, which was the catalyst I needed. It has taken two years to develop and produce my ‘signature’ in scent and as it is entirely self financed. I have been involved in every aspect of it, from ingredients to packaging design.
Which perfumes and brands did you look to for inspiration for JACK?
I've previously worn Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior and Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligons, but I had always dreamt of creating my own perfume, combining my favourite ingredients which include lime, marijuana, mandarin, pepper, clove, nutmeg, frankincense, vetiver, tobacco absolute and musk - all of which are in JACK.
Outside of perfume, what inspired you?
Trying to capture something that is hypnotic, addictive and sexy in a bottle was a big challenge and the fragrance team at Liberty, where JACK is sold exclusively for a year, were ruthlessly honest ‘guides’ during the development process, along with my friends, in my pursuit of creating something original. ‘Nose’ Alienor Massenet was amazing to work with and she accommodated my relentless quest to translate my olfactory dream into a bottled reality.
Who is your ideal customer?
I was determined to create a unisexy scent, so my ideal customer is someone who isn’t bound by Jurassic ideas about what is masculine or feminine, but is a sensualist.
If you were able to capture the scent of anywhere or anything on earth, where or what would it be?
So far, the gardenia flower has defied all scientific extraction, which makes it all the more desirable. The smell of these flowers is the sexiest, most exotic and powerful scent I’ve so far come across. My nasal ‘Holy Grail’.
I thoroughly enjoyed your recent escapade to France in search of antiques; do you have any favourite items in your personal collection?
A large collection of papier mache life sized heads made in the 1930’s.
What’s next in terms of acting? What must we look out for?
I am in John Boorman’s sequel to Hope and Glory which is titled Queen and Country, due for release later this year and also a second series of Hotel Secrets for Sky Atlantic.
What about in other areas, can we expect a sequel to JACK?
I am launching a JACK candle towards the end of the year and currently developing a second perfume under the JACK logo to launch next Spring.