Inside Richard E Grant and wife Joan Washington’s love story

RICHARD E Grant and his wife Joan Washington’s relationship was so romantic it could have played out on the silver screen.

The Hollywood actor, 64, has admitted he is heartbroken following the sad news that the “love of his life” Joan has died.


Richard E Grant enjoyed a beautifully romantic relationship with wife Joan for more than three decadesCredit: richard.e.grant/Instagram
The couple married in 1986


The couple married in 1986Credit: Instagram

Here, we take a look back at the couple’s real life love story – which includes a very romantic proposal, straight out of a movie.


Richard met dialect coach Joan at a London studio, called The Actors’ Centre, in 1982. Joan was there to teach an accent class.

Joan was married to someone else at the time, and had a son called Tom, but Richard could not take his eyes off of her.

In 1994, he told The Independent he was captivated, saying: “She was wearing a boiler suit and had fairly short, cropped hair and Kicker shoes, and was chain-smoking, which I thought was insane.”

But he added: “I thought she had the most wonderful voice and huge, sort of monkey eyes. She seemed fairly frenetic. I thought that she was really cute and all that.”

Joan gave Richard a lesson in developing an Irish accent and he says they “instantly” clicked.

But initially, and amusingly, Joan found him “annoying”.

She said: “I used to take a class of about 20 people and I actually used to find him quite annoying because he’d get the giggles at quite the wrong moment and I was a strict teacher.”


Giggling aside and getting to know Richard during private lessons, Joan quickly realised she was falling for him.

She previously described her then-marriage as “extremely bad at the time” and slowly found herself smitten with the handsome actor in her class.

Recalling the way she was feeling, Joan told The Independent that she soon realised she was “madly in love with him”, adding: “I do believe that there’s one person on the globe that’s meant for you.”

The pair became a couple a year later and their relationship went from strength-to-strength, even though their jobs often meant they spent great chunks of time apart.


Richard said he never believed in marriage until he met Joan.

“My parents were divorced when I was 11 and it made such a profound impression on my life that I suppose I thought that by not getting married, you could avoid your life being carved in two. But that changed,” he told The Independent.

Although they were often apart, Richard and Joan would speak on the phone regularly and write to each other daily.

Eventually, Richard decided it was time to make an honest woman of his girlfriend with a proposal that could have been straight out of a movie.

Arriving home to London for Christmas following six weeks’ away in Africa, he couldn’t wait any longer and popped the question at the airport.

Richard previously recalled: “So I came back and went on bended knee with my trolley at 6.30am at Heathrow Airport – and, luckily for me, she said yes.”

Richard and Joan married in 1986.


Following their marriage, the newlyweds were keen to start a family together. Sadly, their journey was a difficult one.

Joan suffered three miscarriages. They were then left heartbroken when their first child, a daughter called Tiffany, died very soon after she was born.

Richard later told YOU magazine: “Until that time I had no idea how common it is to lose babies and what it actually meant.”

Thankfully, the couple later welcomed their rainbow baby – a second daughter, who they named Olivia, in 1989.

Richard has since described Olivia as his and Joan’s “miracle baby”.

In 2019, the devoted father looked proud as punch as he walked the red carpet with Olivia on his arm at the Oscars.

Speaking to ABC, he said at the time: “My daughter, absolutely gorgeous, she’s 30 and she works in casting so I’m guaranteed a job for life, hopefully.”

Richard and Olivia run a unisex fragrance company together, called JACK.

Speaking about her life with her dad, Olivia added: “I’m just proud. It’s been the best ride to go on together.”


Unlike dozens of other Hollywood stars, Richard and Joan’s beautiful relationship lasted the distance and their love for one another was unbreakable.

Speaking to The Guardian in 2015, he described their marriage as “gold dust”.

Last year – and still as besotted as ever – Richard paid tribute to his wife on their 34th wedding anniversary.

Taking to Instagram, the actor shared a selection of pictures of himself and Joan and wrote: “Married @joandialect 34 years ago today & together for 37 years and counting! ❤️💍❤️🎂❤️🎩.”

Tragically, on Friday, Richard confirmed on Instagram that his wonderful wife had passed away.

Sharing an emotional video of himself dancing with Joan, Richard wrote: “Joan – Love of my Life, giver of Life to our daughter Olivia.

“Our hearts are broken with the loss of your Life last night. 35 years married and 38 together. To be truly known and seen by you, is your immeasurable gift. Do not forget us, sweet Monkee-mine.”

Tributes have since poured in from friends, showbiz stars and fans from around the globe.

Richard and Joan, pictured here in 1992, met in the eighties


Richard and Joan, pictured here in 1992, met in the eightiesCredit: Rex
Richard didn't believe in marriage until he met Joan


Richard didn’t believe in marriage until he met JoanCredit: Rex
The couple have one daughter together called Olivia


The couple have one daughter together called OliviaCredit: BackGrid
Joan Washington dead – Richard E Grant’s beloved wife of 35 years dies

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