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DOM HEMINGWAY

Meet Dickie
Waiting for Dom when he gets out of prison is his long-time, long-suffering partner-in-crime, Dickie, a role played in classic straight-man form by Richard E. Grant, who came to the fore as the indignant unemployed actor Withnail in the British cult comedy WITHNAIL AND I.

Shepard wrote the role with Grant in mind. "I've been a fan of Richard E. Grant's forever," he says. "And I wanted Dom to have a friend who was the only person who could talk back to him. When Dom gets out of jail, his wife is dead and his daughter isn't talking to him, so Dickie's his one friend in the world. I've always been interested in male friendship, the unspoken way men behave with each other, and Richard and Jude developed a great chemistry."

Grant was intrigued right away when he read the script, especially by the radically opposite natures of Dom and Dickie. "Richard had written such strong, clear characters. While Dom is a motor mouth who is uncontrollable, he provides my character with a kind of release. Dickie is a low sleaze version of Robin to his Batman. Laurel to his Hardy. It's a sort of double act," he observes.

He was also drawn to the script's heightened, uncensored, impudently poetic language.

"Something that so surprised me were the operatically Baroque speeches that Dom gives," he comments. "I can't think of another American screenwriter who has written a movie where somebody is as verbose as this guy. It seemed so quintessentially in the vernacular of Britishness. Richard obviously did his research and all the characters sound completely British, so that was even more impressive."

Once Law was cast, Shepard gave the duo room to get to develop their rapport. "At a certain point a real friendship started to form between them," the director notes. "You can feel it. You can just sense it. They both came in incredibly prepared, they rehearsed a lot together, and it all paid off."

Law says that Grant helped to open up his character's freewheeling ego even more.

"Dickie's love of Dom, and Dickie's forgiveness of Dom is a very important element to the story. Richard brought a wonderful compassion that helps the audience understand Dom better through Dickie's eyes," says Law. "When Dom bowls into a scene drunk and fearless, working his way towards a rant, it is Dickie who recognizes the danger."

Grant came to see Dickie as not only Dom's solidly loyal friend but also the touchstone for his wavering conscience. "Dickie is always trying to pick up the mess that Dom smithereens in all directions," Grant laughs.

"For Dickie, I think Dom is exciting, frustrating, infuriating, and an absolute adrenaline rush," sums up Grant. "He's irresistible to someone who is much more low-key, like Dickie is. I'm like the Charlie Watts to his Mick Jagger. That's how I see it."

Like Dom, Dickie has his own distinct look: that of a man still clinging to the glory days of his past, with his long, stringy hair, 70s glasses, a wardrobe that might resemble Peter Fonda's eccentric uncle . . . and his one black leather glove.

Shepard's idea was that Dickie should resemble a British riff on Hunter S. Thompson, the legendary Gonzo journalist renowned for his mismatched outfits that defined the term counter- culture. "I haven't got the Hunter Thompson hat and I'm not bald yet, but they did find these yellow glasses that nailed it," Grant laughs. "I think Dickie's best years of his life were in the 1970s, so his feeling is why change your clothes and try and be somebody living in the 21st Century? Keep all your gear from your best days. That's his theory."

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