“I’ve been surprised at how generous audiences have been in kind of taking these two near-destitute, on-the-fringe criminals, full of loneliness and despair in early ’90s New York, that people have rooted for them and identified with them,” Grant said. Their misfit friendship struck a chord.
His character, Jack Hock, is based on a real person, about whom very little is known; he was gay and had AIDS. “I think the assumption was, he’d been disowned by his family — there are no photographs of him. What little there is is featherweight information in Lee Israel’s actual memoir,” Grant said. His performance, he added, is “an homage to those men who died in the ’80s and ’90s, before there seemed to be any possibility of an antidote.”
But Grant has brushed up against Israel’s contemporaries. “I met somebody at a Screen Actors Guild screening in New York last week, who said that in real life she was far grumpier and far more deadly than Melissa McCarthy portrayed her,” he said, “and that her apartment was an absolute pit of filth. He said it seemed quite sanitized in the film, but I don’t know that you could take an audience further into that Hieronymus Bosch territory.”
Grant has been unusually – and hilariously — unfiltered on the awards circuit; even with McCarthy, he’s the uproarious one in the room. “I was born without that button, that filter in your brain that stops what comes into your brain from going out of your mouth — to my cost, sometimes,” he said.
So, what does he make of his first go-round on the path to the Oscars?
“What nobody warns you about is that when I went as a complete innocent to the Telluride Film Festival, where the film premiered, at 4 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, I had no idea that five months later, I would still be banging the drums for the film,” he said. “I had no idea that when someone said to me, you do realize it’s on a campaign, and you will not be earning any money — though you will be royally looked after. But what’s money? This is much better, because the response and approbation has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”