Richard E. Grant likes to smell people like dogs do, can remember their smell


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I just saw Can You Ever Forgive Me, with Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. It was a gem of a movie, funny without being heavy handed and touching without being schmaltzy. Melissa plays an alcoholic author turned forger while Richard is her partner in crime. He is every bit deserving of his supporting actor nomination, as is Melissa of hers for lead actress. Neither of them are going to take home the Oscar, but both seem elated just to be nominated. Richard has been a highlight of this awards season as he’s been effusive and so grateful to be invited to the party.

Richard and Melissa have great chemistry onscreen and seem close. They told Ellen on her show this week that they only spent a couple of hours together before filming though, and that it easily could have gone the other way for them. (I doubt that.) Melissa also told this weird story about how Richard likes to smell people when he meets them, like a dog does except he’s not sniffing their butts. Somehow she made it sound endearing and then he did it to Ellen and Melissa and it actually looked endearing. I would let that man smell me. He even remembers people’s smells too!

Melissa on meeting Richard: You were weird and funny and you like to smell things right away.

Richard: Yeah, I like to smell things. Am I allowed to smell you [Ellen]?

Melissa: He’s like a bloodhound.

Richard: I’ll remember that [Ellen's smell] always.

Melissa: I knew we were friends forever because within an hour you smelled all four walls of an elevator and I thought ‘I like him!’

[From Ellen]

After that Richard told the story about writing a letter to Barbra Streisand at the age of 14, posting it to Twitter recently, and having Barbra respond to him. He took a photo outside her house, posted the letter he wrote to her almost 50 years ago, and then when she responded, he posted a photo of himself reacting to her tweet thanking him. He’s wacky and delightful. (Kristy at Pajiba has a fun writeup with his tweets!)

Getting back to this wild story about him smelling people and remembering how they smell – I have heard of supertasters, so there must be super smellers, right? I did five minutes of googling and apparently this is a thing, super smellers have some differences in their brains (according to the one study I found) and you can actually train your nose to be more sensitive, which is apparently what Richard is doing by smelling everyone and everything. I would like to see him tested blindfolded, some talk show host should do that.

Here’s the interview. Watch their movie you’ll love it!

Barbra Streisand watched this interview and responded to him too!

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Photos credit: WENN and via Twitter

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25 Responses to “Richard E. Grant likes to smell people like dogs do, can remember their smell”

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  1. Junebug says:

    I’m a supersmeller too and was surprised when I found out it’s not like that for everyone else!

    • Nosy says:

      Me too! Thought everyone was like this, but no. Pregnancies made my sense of smell even more accute. My husband is fascinated by this. I can usually tell where he’s been and who with.

      Because of the sensitivity, I really enjoy perfumes and candles. They can mask the stuff I don’t want to smell. I try not to use them much after learning how they can make others suffer, though. I would hate to cause anyone else discomfort, pain, or medical problems because Of my own selfish preference for a smell.

  2. Maiglöckchen says:

    Slightly off topic, but I’ve heard Richard E. Grant give several interviews. He is intelligent, witty, and absolutely lovely. His genuine happiness at his and Melissa McCarthy’s SAG nominations on Fresh Air was pure delight and something you don’t often hear from celebs.

  3. Ashley says:

    I thought everyone has a smell unique to them.I always associated people and their smells!

  4. CharliePenn says:

    I’m a supersmeller. I’m legally blind (although I can see with glasses), I have always thought it’s a compensation. People all have their own smell. I can smell when one of my kids is getting sick. When I was growing up I could smell if my older sister was angry: she had a different smell when she was angry than when she was calm.

    I’ve scared my husband countless times with my sense of smell. Once I came in the front door and he was upstairs in his office eating Cheetos, which we never have in the house. I yelled up the stairs “you’re eating Cheetos?!” And he screamed. Hahah.

    It’s a blessing and a curse. Because people smell quite bad, as a whole, especially on a summer day hahaha.

    • Esmom says:

      That’s amazing. I’ve always thought of myself as sensitive to smells, but it’s nowhere near that level. For me it’s more of a drag. For example, if I cook with onions I won’t be able to sleep unless I completely clean my stove and burn pretty much an entire scented candle to erase/mask the smell.

      You’re right about people smelling bad. Unwashed hair can really gross me out, even more than regular BO.

    • Skwinkee says:

      I have a strong sense of smell too. And very much can’t “handle” a smell. Was dating a guy once who ticked all the boxes, except smell, I had to break it off.

      Whenever I hug my husband I always smell him too. He was pretty freaked out about at first ha ha.

      When I was pregnant the only real sign I had was that I was stuffed up, could not smell anything for the whole time.

      Totally a blessing and a curse!

      • Mira Belle says:

        Same here. Met a man who was my soulmate (yes, cheesy but true) but couldn’t smell him…and that was so odd to me I couldn’t be with him. Scent is everything. Enjoying people’s comments on this thread 😊

  5. asdfa says:

    I adore Richard E. Grant. Whomever has not seen Withnail & I, please watch immediately!

  6. Lady Keller says:

    I have loved this man for years. I’m glad to see he’s getting some much deserved respect.

  7. Sparkly says:

    My husband is a supersmeller. He tries not to smell people because he thinks we all stink, but he’s been able to tell more than one person that they were pregnant because he can smell it.

    We’ll also be going down the interstate and he’ll say, “That red car four cars up is smoking cigarettes.” He’s even specified nonfiltered or camels before. And sure enough we see them flick their butt out or pass them and see he was right.

  8. Hotsauceinmybag says:

    I don’t know if I am a super smeller but I have a heightened sense of smell and I never forget a person’s face (plus I am good with names)… So it can be fun but also can be a little weird! I can’t tell you how often I pretend not to remember someone’s face/name/scent.

  9. Katebush says:

    I love Richard E Grant and especially Withnail and I one of my favourite movies.

  10. iconoclast59 says:

    Richard E. Grant was recently on the radio quiz show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” where he revealed that he has his own unisex fragrance called Jack. It includes essences of “lime, marijuana, mandarin, vetiver, pepper, cloves and gardenias.” Check it out: https://www.jackperfume.co.uk/

  11. I teach kids and adults about their sense of smell — and we often meet children ”supersmellers!” They can recall, identify and describe scents really well, even at their young age. I have worked in the fragrance industry for 15 years, so I know how difficult that can be. My nose has been honed through endless practice. But many people just have “it” and those people fascinate me. Would love to host a supersmeller conference :)

  12. Natters5 says:

    I have always loved Richard E. Grant, he did a movie called “Henry and June” and he was very sexy in it. Glad he is getting the attention he deserves.

  13. Kiwifruit says:

    It makes me so happy to see him enjoying himself like this! And his sense of smell doesn’t surprise me……we saw him selling his own branded cologne at a Christmas market just a couple of months ago (which makes me even gladder he was nominated because he didn’t seem to love doing that)

  14. megs283 says:

    omg. When I’ve been pregnant, I could not STAND my husband’s smell after he drinks (especially bourbon). I could even smell it on our daughter after he held her. Luckily that’s only when I’m pregnant.

  15. Sue says:

    REG is such a wonderful actor and terrific writer. I loved With Nails. I have followed him on Facebook for years. It’s so lovely to see him get the recognition he deserves.