Joan Washington death: Jessica Chastain and Dawn French lead tributes to Richard E Grant’s ‘phenomenal’ wife

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Chastain (left) worked with Washington on eight films (Getty/Shutterstock)
Chastain (left) worked with Washington on eight films (Getty/Shutterstock)

Jessica Chastain and Dawn French have led tributes to Richard E Grant’s wife, vocal coach Joan Washington, who has died.

In a tweet shared on Friday (3 September), the Withnail and I star wrote that Washington had died the previous night, with no cause of death given.

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

With nearly 40 years of experience as voice and dialect coach in the film industry, Washington was widely commemorated by those who had worked with her.

Chastain, who worked with Washington on projects including The Debt, Poirot, Coriolanus and Miss Julie, shared a photo of the pair together to Twitter.

“My heart is broken,” she wrote. Joan Washington had such a profound impact on me, yes as an artist, but mostly as a woman. I’ve looked toward her. Her strive towards excellence made her the celebrated dialect coach she was.

“Every day I was excited to go to work and giggle with Joan. She was a barometer of truth with a wicked sense of humour. I loved her very much. The way she celebrated her family has been very meaningful to see over the years. My heart goes to her beloved Richard and Oilly. You were always her North Star.”

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Dawn French wrote: “Joan Washington will ALWAYS be remembered by those of us who knew her & were taught by her, as a PHENOMENAL WOMAN. So much love to @RichardEGrant & all the family.”

Comedian Chris Addison remembered his own time working with Washington, writing: “What a huge loss to the world. The wonderful Joan Washington has left us. She lit up many a film set and many a life. Urbane, funny, unflappable, deeply knowledgeable and wildly talented. The secret sauce in a million performances. Go well, JW.”

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Jason Watkins tweeted: “​​The incomparable #JoanWashington has died. Joan taught me dialects and accents when I trained at @Rada and beyond. I have made my career using accents and dialects. I owe her everything. Such a terrible loss to @RichardEGrant and us all. Rest in Peace.”

Washington and Grant married in 1986 and shared a daughter, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom, from Washington’s previous relationship.

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