Cancer, Clare and me: actor Greg Wise on the death of his sister

Kate Kallaway in The Guardian:

GregIt is more than a year since Clare Wise, sister of the actor Greg Wise, died of cancer. She lived just down the street from the West Hampstead house her brother shares with his wife, Emma Thompson, and their daughter, Gaia. As Greg opens his front door and leads the way into his kitchen, one can see, within minutes, why he was such an indispensable carer to his sister during the last weeks of her life. Today, he has organised elevenses with good coffee and patisserie. As an actor, he is routinely cast as a reprobate (Mountbatten in The Crown a debatable exception). In life, he could not be nicer if he tried. And that’s precisely it: he does not appear to be trying – the charm is not fake. When I ask him how he is feeling about Clare’s death now, his eyes fill. “I’ve had very few days when I’ve not been actively doing something about Clare, be it probate, sorting out her flat, moving furniture – or just the book.” The book is Not That Kind of Love and is a shared effort, written by Clare and Greg. It is fuelled by wisdom and wisecracks, a story of brotherly, and sisterly, love. Clare was 18 months Greg’s senior (he is 51) and worked for the UK Film Council and as vice president of Universal Pictures. She started a blog in 2013 (although the first lump in her breast was found in 2007) and her take on illness drew a crowd – 96,000 hits (by 2015). No wonder: her style is gallant, funny, self-deprecating. It was not until June 2015 that cancer made its terrible comeback into her bones and Greg moved into her flat to take care of her and Grably (her attention-seeking cat). He also took over the blog when she became too sick to write.

Clare’s devotion to her brother (she described him as her “best friend”) is the book’s brightest thread. She relies on him to come with her to hospital appointments knowing he will charm the nurses, tell the right jokes, keep her going. And as to taking on the blog, Greg explains this was a practical decision to protect them from “endless phone calls, emails and texts” and Facebook messages. “It was our way of saying: ‘Please, please, leave us alone. This is what’s happening. Don’t panic.’”

…The big thing death teaches is, he believes, that life is unpredictable. The night before Clare died, Greg had no idea her death was imminent. He quotes from William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade – a “spectacular” book, published 30 years ago: “Goldman said the most important thing to know in the film business is that no one knows anything. We forget that. We never know what is going to happen.”

More here.