LONDON – There is no bigger cheerleader of awards season than Richard E. Grant.
He brings joy to the red carpet, snapping selfies with stars and posting congratulations to nominees on social media.
Now this enthusiasm has been tapped for the EE BAFTA Film Awards on Feb. 19 at the Royal Festival Hall.
“I’m an unabashed fan of movies and of talent and always have been. I’ve never been disingenuous or, you know, blase about that,” Grant, the host, says.
“I probably have to restrain myself from permanently taking selfies with every nominee and winner coming up on the stage."
“From that point of view, I am the right fit for the job, hopefully,” he says.
Grant also knows how it feels to participate in awards season and sit, nervously, waiting for that career changing envelope to be opened. He was nominated as supporting actor at both the BAFTAs and Oscars in 2019 for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
And he’s aware that, as a working actor, hosting has its challenges.
“Traditionally if you’re a comedian, your role is very clear to roast the audience. Whereas I’m an actor and, you know, even though I’m the vast vintage that I am now, I still want to work and collaborate with directors and actors and writers for the remainder of my breathing days," he says. "So roasting them is not really an option and not something that I want to do.”
When asked if there will be any humor in the ceremony — Grant has jokes.
“No, It’s going to be very, very serious. There’ll be no jokes and it will be … it’ll be brutally earnest,” he says, laughing.
Rebel Wilson got mixed reviews for her joke heavy turn as the BAFTA ceremony emcee last March, which at one point involved a cake of Benedict Cumberbatch’s face.
This year, “All Quiet on the Western Front” leads the nominees with 14. “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” both have 10 nominations.
As you’d expect, Grant knows quite a few of the nominees, having worked with EE Rising Star nominees Naomi Ackie and Daryl McCormack, plus Bill Nighy, Cate Blanchett and most of the “Banshees” cast.
But there will be big changes at the BAFTA Film Awards ceremony this year.
After six years of walking up the red carpeted steps into the Royal Albert Hall, nominees will be attending an event held beside the River Thames on London’s Southbank at the Royal Festival Hall.
Also, for the first time, the last 30 minutes of the show will be broadcast live on BBC One, as BAFTA moves toward the idea of a fully live ceremony.
“In an age where everything can be paused or fast forwarded or, you know, watched on at a later time, the thing of it being live gives it a kind of frisson and excitement and also the possibility that something can go fantastically well or really badly. And that’s always a good thing," Grant says.
British rapper Lil Simz will be performing at the ceremony and both the prince and princess of Wales will be in the audience, as Prince William is president of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Grant, currently working with script writers on what he’ll be saying on stage, says he’s more excited than nervous, adding he’ll probably be “levitating” on the big day.
“It is absolutely genuine,” he says of his boundless enthusiasm, “and it’s to the annoyance of some people.”
“Just surviving in show-business because it is, you know — for what it looks like from the outside — it is a profession that is has an enormous amount of rejection in built into it," he says. "So when people are recognized or succeed at what they’re doing and do it so brilliantly — I’m a great champion of that.”