Son of a carpet sales man, who was also an artist, and a teacher of Scottish Ancestry, Hugh Grant is one of Britain’s best known faces who has been equally entertaining on-screen and off despite that he had a later start in the business. He had enough sense of humor to survive a few media frenzies about his on again and off again relationship with supermodel Elizabeth Hurley with whom Grant’s commitment phobia was an obvious tabloid target.
Grant’s breakthrough came with the leading role as Charles in the hilarious comedy, Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994, opposite Andy MacDowell, a role that won him a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Film Award for Best Actor. The role of Charles was perfectly reflecting Grant’s real life persona, which is a wandering contradiction between funny witticisms honest to a fault and a grumpish disconnectedness when bombarded with too many irritating questions. But, the winning formula in Grant’s case is his inevitable charm, which is present in either case. A boyish, yet gentleman-like quality with a never ending mischievous smile on his face granting him the ultimate â€œItâ€ personality, which topped with extraordinary talent makes a rock solid A-list movie star engraved in entertainment history forever. He is bound to have the last laugh no matter what, especially as his new movie Did You Hear About the Morgans? lives up to the standards of a successful Grant comedy yet again.
He loves writer-director Marc Lawrence, â€œ His stuff makes me laugh and I find that touching, â€œ he says, expressing how much he loves the team spirit on the set, and the idea of seeing the Wild West for the first time while shooting the film.
â€œThe West looks exactly like in Cowboy films. And, it is really beautiful in the morning and the evening. Especially if you have had two Margaritas.â€ Yes, that is what he means, a Margarita in the morning as well as in the evening.
His quirky sense of humor flows naturally as we touch on his comments about being tired of comedies and wanting to do something more serious.
â€œ A comedy is usually about a boy meets a girl. But this film is about a marriage. In a way I thought this suits me better. I am too old for a boy meets girl. But couples falling apart suites me quite wellâ€
Another interesting subject with him is about the question of acting itself.
â€œI am not so much tired of making movies as a certain part of acting. I like making films. I like script development, casting, editing, – I get very involved. And, I quite like acting. But, I hate close-ups. I have a sort of phobia about close-ups. On my previous film, Music and Lyrics, I got these panic attacks, which made me slightly reluctant. After I finished that film I wondered whether I would want to put myself through that again in case I got any of these panic attacks.â€
I cannot help but ask about what happens during these attacks just to make sure he is not pulling my leg. Hugh Grant, the super comedian, never seemed to be the nervous type to me.
â€œ It is absurd,â€ he says, â€œwhen it is me by myself in front of the camera, especially my head, I do not like it. I cannot breathe, I cannot think. I saw a man in London and he explained to me how to breathe during these episodes and luckily it was quite successful.â€
While he never comes across as stiff or self-conscious on screen, he says he had this most of his career. â€œ I spent most of that film [Music and Lyrics] taking tranquilizers. But, I was playing a pop star, so it was perfect…It has to do with nerves,â€ he continues, â€œI am very nervous on the set and my terror is that the nerves will prevent me from doing the good things I can otherwise do in rehearsal to make the things funny. â€œ
AP: So, you are actually not funny during the shoot.
HG: Very much not. I am the gloomiest on the set. Ask others.
In his new opposite Sarah Jessica Parker, there is a pretty hairy, but funny scene with him and a live bear.
â€œThe bear was right next to me and I was terrified to be honest. But, after half an hour of working with this bear, he was more interested in acting than I was. It was very keen on looking lovely. It liked to be brushed carefully before each take, and it preferred to get his right side of his muzzle on camera. Frankly, by lunchtime we were sitting around talking about theater.â€
As we talk more about the film and his co-star Sarah Jessica Parker, it turns out that they shared lots of anxieties together over which they bonded quite nicely. â€˜She was very nervous at the beginning, so we were both speechless.â€
Grant is approaching 50 soon and feels it is time to do other parts than just romantic comedies. â€œ I am a bit of a short-termist. I would not want to be 65 sitting here giving interviews about romantic comedies.â€
In his view, he is not at all as funny in real life as he is on the screen but rather â€œhas a dark and unpleasant side to his personality that can get grumpy.â€ But, humor certainly helps through life’s bumpier chapters.
Grant’s long line of works and bonding friendship with director Marc Lawrence came out when Grant called him â€œthe worst dressed man in the worldâ€ in a suit that he had given him as a gift. â€œBut that is not just Lawrence,â€ he says, he thinks he dresses terribly himself. â€œI am not a good dresser. The British have not dressed well since 1939.â€
Without having any New Year’s resolution, for never having been able to really keep to any, Grant feels he has a pretty damn good outlook on life, which is really the only way to go for all of us.
Regarding the future, he is flirting with a couple of things, but does not feel the need for a production company on his own taken that he is interfering with every production so much as an actor, he technically wears a producer’s hat each time. Well done Hugh Grant, whether that is the secret to your continuous success or not, we want more of whatever you are doing!