Jennifer Grant is the daughter of late Hollywood legend Cary Grant. She recently released her memoir called “Good Stuff: a Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jennifer about her father and her new memoir.
Mike Gencarelli: What made you decide to write your memoir?
Jennifer Grant: My whole life people have asked me to do something on my dad, since my father passed away actually. About five years ago people very close to me started recommending I do something and that is what got my attention. We were always a private family especially my father, so I never really considered the idea of doing anything. I brought the idea to my step-mother and she said it was a wonderful idea and that I must do it. I thought wow this is something that my dad may have actually welcomed and maybe it was just me that’s been sort of greedy with my memories. So I decided I should open up and speak.
MG: How long did the process take from the initial idea to completion?
JG: Once I had the idea I had to sit down alone and write in a notebook to see what I was doing. That took awhile and then it came to writing a book proposal and meeting with publishers. Once that I happened then I was into writing the book so from conception to having the book on the stands was about a five year process. There was probably two and a half years of writing and nine months of legalese and then another nine months waiting till press. My father left me a tremendous amount of archives about our personal history together including audio tapes that he made. He retired when I was born and I think that all of his time on movie sets was ingrained in him that he was used to recording life. He took slides, photos, super 8 videos and audio tapes. He kept every letter and card from me, so I had boxes and boxes of material to go through while I was writing. It was a wonderful, cumbersome and cathartic process all at once.
MG: The title of the book is “Good Stuff” can you tell us how you came up with that and the back ground behind it?
JG: It’s something my dad used to say when he was happy. It could have been the simplest day where we were sitting outside on the patio eating coffee cake and listening to classical music and my dad would look around and say “Good Stuff isn’t it.” It was his way of expressing happiness.
MG: What would you say was your most challenging part in the writing process?
JG: I think it was allowing me to commit to making things public. It is one thing to write stuff for yourself or to share with friends, which I hadn’t really done. I sort of closed this stuff off to myself because I had some repressed grief about it. Going through the archives was incredibly cathartic but then to really realize that I was going to share this with the world. My manager used to joke with me because when we had our initial meeting with my wonderful book agent Dan Strone I think I had twenty pages of writing to show him. I had it in manila envelope which was quite literally clutched to my chest. I think throughout our meeting I let go of the pages and that was very much what the process was like holding those things very dear to my heart and finally letting them go.
MG: Growing up for you was it spending time with Cary Grant or was it spending time with dad?
JG: It was very much spending time with dad. He retired when I was born, so I never saw dad on a movie set. Dad and I went to baseball games and he would wake me up in the morning and we would have breakfast together. We spent our time together. He would drive me to school and pick me up. He was really ready to be a dad because he had already reached iconic status with his acting career. I was very lucky.
MG: In today’s Hollywood who do you feel resembles his tremendous presence?
JG: I don’t think there is one person who embodies dad’s qualities. There are two people who come to mind that have aspects of dad. One is George Clooney as he has some of that charisma and he is a bit mysterious as dad was but his comedy is entirely different. George Clooney is very left of center with his comedy and dad was very mainstream in his comedy. Then there is also Hugh Jackman, but not the Wolverine side, that also reminds me of dad. There is something about the way he carries himself. He has this elegant side that is like dads.
MG: How do you feel when you watch your father’s films? And do you watch them often?
JG: Since writing the book it’s been easier for me to watch his films. I think I missed him more and now that I have been through this whole process. It’s not that I didn’t miss him…I just really indulged myself and gotten in there. Now the memories are a lot cooler, so to speak, so to watch his films are more of a pure viewing experience. I just enjoy them and I am awed by his talent as he was so unique. He worked with so many amazing people. The stars and directors he worked with were just phenomenal. I am just in awe of his talent and very proud of him.
MG: Do you have plans to do anymore writing in the future?