If there’s one downside to reaching cinematic mega stardom by appearing in one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time, it’s typography We imagine the career crossroads at which Hugh Grant came face to face after starring alongside Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, the 1994 romantic comedy that featured every reason to fall in love with the then little-known male role: There was the loose hair, the charming caddy, the handsome prep school demeanor, the chic British accent and the pungent, biting humor that suggested he could help your grandma with her groceries while laughing at a dirty joke The audience immediately wanted more cinematic dates with Grant, and the threat of romantic comedy purgatory loomed
By the time Four Weddings and a Funeral ‘introduced’ Grant to the world, he had already distinguished himself as a serious actor in films such as Maurice’s Merchant Ivory production in 1987 and in the drama Bitter Moon. by Roman Polanski in 1992 He also already mastered his comic book technique by founding a small sketch-comedy group in London.And yet, even for those of us barely aware in the 1990s, it was impossible to escape the tabloid coverage of Hugh Grant, the Heartthrob (and his then-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley) The actor went on to perform hit romantic comedies with successful romantic co-stars including Julia Roberts in Notting Hill in 1999, Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001 and Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks Notice from 2002 By the age of 40, Grant had become the ultimate fantasy for most women in the movie world. Fortunately, he was not devoured
In recent years, the actor, now 60, has shown a radically different side to his acting prowess, creating a fascinating and rigorous resume as he takes on a range of difficult, complicated and morally compromised characters. that you might rather see walking past a bus than setting off at sunset.In 2018, he played murderous parliamentarian and locked up Jeremy Thorpe in the A Very English Scandal miniseries (for which Grant was nominated for a Emmy and a Golden Globe) Earlier this year he chewed up the scenery – then spat it out – like a dubious private investigator in Guy Ritchie’s heist set, The Gentlemen.This fall, he tackles the role of the dashing oncologist husband, perhaps homicide, of Nicole Kidman’s Upper East Side therapist in HBO’s murder mystery series The Undoing Set against the backdrop of New York City, Grant juggles charisma and coldness with dexterity, making him the perfect suspect in a thriller that works on the unreliability of pretty appearances
In real life, Grant has been outspoken in an industry that prefers its players to be submissive, if not silent; he recently clashed with the British tabloid press, Brexit and the Conservative government that currently presides over the UK He even toyed with the idea of getting into politics But after he called last August with the great Donald Sutherland, his co- featured in The Undoing, for a heated conversation between ‘fannies’ and ‘berks’, that might not be possible anymore — CHRISTOPHER BOLLEN
SUTHERLAND: I can’t answer that I haven’t seen it HBO told me it would be better if I started the interview by saying something nice
GRANT: Oh I see Well that was a really good opening I saw it and you’re awesome I’m just fat
SUTHERLAND: I’m so nervous to do this You sting! I hate interviews, but you too Anyway, do you have a piece of paper?
SUTHERLAND: Ok Write: « The true spirit is nature to the advantage, which has often been thought of but not so well expressed » I think these words represent you perfectly
SUTHERLAND: Alexandre Pope wrote this at the beginning of the 18th century I think you are a wonderful actor, but I read that you don’t like to act Is it true?
GRANT: Well, I’ve liked it a little more recently Over the past six years I’ve almost loved my job, and I’ve always liked the little bit after If you do something that works and that people are entertained and tell you beautiful things, so it’s just heaven That’s what we’re here for
SUTHERLAND: But you were a performing actor at the Nottingham Playhouse To rep you have to love to act
GRANT: There’s a part of me that always liked it, but I didn’t really want to rehearse When I left college, I was cast for a movie, The Bounty with Mel Gibson , and I was very excited I said to myself: « Hooray, it’s a lot of money, it’s Tahiti, it’s glamorous » And as we were about to get on the plane to go to Tahiti, they said, “By the way, is it true that you don’t have an Equity card?” And I said, “I didn’t know about that” And they said, “Well, so you can’t come « I was so disappointed I started getting one, and the way to do it then was to get into repertory theater and play a lot of little roles in one season
SUTHERLAND: He was turned down for a voiceless role in a movie I was in, where he was to play my son, by the director, who was a shit
SUTHERLAND: No, seriously The movie was Max Dugan Returns, whoever that director was He’s dead now Did you act in college?
SUTHERLAND: Now, would it have been the labia minora, or majora, or the clitoral hood?
GRANT: No, no, no, Donald You can’t make those jokes, shhh My best part was Brigitta von Trapp, who I believe is the third oldest daughter of the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music
GRANT: She said: « I’m Brigitta, I’m 14, and all I want is to have a good time » He made people laugh
GRANT: And then I went to college and did some serious Shakespeare plays In particular, I did Hamlet in Star Trek costumes, which we took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and performed in front of a audience of two to four people
GRANT: I thought I was pretty good at the time, but nobody told me you had to think so So I just recited the poetry rather gently, but I don’t think I moved anyone. you played Hamlet?
SUTHERLAND: It’s all too late for me You’re quoted as saying you’re a terrible actor That’s rubbish You know you’re brilliant
GRANT: I got better, but I committed some real abominations early in my career
SUTHERLAND: You would have been wonderful in Private Lives « Dancing is a bigger fear than having your teeth extracted »
GRANT: It’s true I had to express myself through movement in the movies, and I don’t know about you, but I must have been extremely drunk to do this When I had to do it at seven in the morning in front of a bored film crew, dreaded it I remember going to a dance rehearsal for a movie called Music and Lyrics, and they made me rehearse with choreographer Britney Spears We Are went to this big rehearsal room and he said, « Here’s what’s going to happen I’m going to put on some music and you’re going to express yourself » He put on the music, and I stood there, still, for a half hour I had no self to express I don’t think he ever tried to teach a middle aged Englishman to dance It was a very difficult experience
GRANT: Well, yes It happened about nine years ago I moan about the power of the tabloid press in Britain and its abuse of power, for years – the fact that they have effectively run the country and chose our government Everybody thought I was crazy or drinking too much, or being a conspiracy theorist And then it all started to emerge after that terrible episode of Milly Dowler, when one of Murdoch’s diaries hacked into the phone of a little girl who had been abducted, which gave false hope to her parents And all of a sudden all of Britain was outraged, and it became one thing.I was very involved in all of this, and still am, because we still haven’t won the war, even though we have won battles along the way
SUTHERLAND: Ok Talk about the difference between acting when the camera isn’t on and when it is GRANT: My torture for all these years has been for you to come in at the start of the day and say, » Let’s just do a mumble Let’s do some programming « And I’m wonderful in training There’s no camera And then you start shooting it You shoot it wide, and I’m still good enough at it Loose, relaxed, maybe even be fun I’m not bad in both shots, and great in your close-up, when I’m off camera And then towards the end of the day they say, « Hugh, we’re looking to you now for your close-up « And you know this will be the photo they use the most in the montage And the pressure builds as they turn on the lights, and an hour later you’re pushed past the camera Time is running out, we’re losing the light, someone comes in and adjusts your makeup, which is extremely irrelevant. itanting, or pulling your pants, dividing your bunch and making you scream And suddenly it’s « Action », and you find that under the gun, you have nothing of the blur, the colors, the textures, the humor you’ve had all day It’s been a torment my whole life at the movies Do you feel it?
SUTHERLAND: No But I did a movie with Vanessa Redgrave, and finally I had to say to the director: « Listen, shoot me last », because I would do my close-up, then she would do hers, and her close up had nothing to do with anything she had done before It was so precise and specific I’m nervous all the time For me the camera is either a voyeur or a lover If that’s your lover, he shares your soul, you give him your virginity over and over again, and he will kiss your heart If he’s a voyeur he’s a fucking paparazzi
GRANT: I know Anthony Hopkins is going to stroke the camera every morning and say « Hello » to her
GRANT: The filming process has gotten easier now that there is usually more than one camera around.And very often you can persuade directors to take two close-ups at the same time, which means you don’t can not understand your problem with Vanessa Redgrave
SUTHERLAND: That’s right. In Robin and Marian, Richard Lester shot with two or three cameras, with Sean [Connery] and Audrey Hepburn, and she used to be lit to make her look pretty, which you can’t do with two or three cameras
SUTHERLAND: I need all the help I can get You said, « Comedy is probably a way of dealing with anxiety, sometimes a way of dealing with pain »
GRANT: I don’t know all the bullshit I said God knows what I’m saying in interviews
GRANT: But I said all kinds of bullshit just to pass the half hour But I really think the best comedy is about the pain, that it deals with something mean and takes it down. the comedy that hits home I think it’s the most intense laugh you can have
GRANT: I’ll try to think of an example You know all those movies that I made with Richard Curtis, like Notting Hill and Love, Actually and Four Weddings and a Funeral? These are comedies, but I feel like they worked because they were dealing with a pretty painful love and it was real, because Richard Curtis, although he is a very funny guy, suffered more than most people I know, on the horns of terrible unrequited loves So for him these scripts were a way of dealing with pain
SUTHERLAND: Four weddings and one funeral grossed $ 363 million, and it’s deemed you own 10%
GRANT: Oh, well, that would have been so beautiful I had what is called sharp dots, which in the company are called « no » dots, because you never see them
GRANT: Out of the blue when I do a scene that’s not terribly difficult I’ll be overwhelmed with shocking nerves I’m starting to shed my armpits and makeup artists can’t bring in sponges fast enough to get the sweat off my face I can’t breathe, I can’t remember my lines, and it’s extremely embarrassing I went to a shrink, and he told me the answer was to leave and to do a lot of push-ups so that’s what I do I’m handling better now than me But you really cheered me up by telling me that you’re so nervous before the first day of a shoot that you’re throwing up Is- this true?
SUTHERLAND: The day before, I’m still vomiting I almost threw up before this interview
SUTHERLAND: What about the language? How do you deal with the cultural contrast between the American lexicon and English? What I mean is if you finger someone in the US it means you are surreptitiously reporting a criminal to the police. Does someone finger mean the same in UK?
GRANT: [Laughs] I remember having dinner with Demi Moore once, and she was complaining about the chair she was sitting on. She said her « pussy » was really sore, and j was very surprised she said such a thing. The first time I went to Los Angeles, I checked into the Mondrian hotel and they said, « How are you going to take care of your room? » And I said, « As good as I can I’ll try to keep it in order and everything » It’s harder than you think
SUTHERLAND: In America, when a man misbehaves, he is called an asshole In the UK, he is called a « yuck », right?
SUTHERLAND: Berk is Cockney’s rhyming slang for that beloved Middle English word « cunt » Right?
SUTHERLAND: Oh, really? Berk applies to men A « Berkeley Hunt » cat is male A « Granny Grunt » cat, sometimes called « fanny » or « jack and dandy », is female It is spoken with affection, and it relates specifically to this exquisite opening that leads to a woman’s reproductive organs This is an old English lesson
GRANT: I think the former is better There are some people who just don’t give you what they’re going to give on camera at all I won’t name names because I can’t be bothered through stress afterward, but that’s a surprising number who don’t really care to do it when they’re not on camera, and you don’t mind
GRANT: I feel like I’ve had too much synthetic life I used to say that when people asked me why I did all this political stuff with Murdoch, and more recently when I was making a huge effort to try to prevent this last British government from becoming the government, because I thought they were deadly, really, and I think I was right about that People ask me, « Why take worth doing that? » And I say, « Even though it’s stressful, it’s a nice relief, after decades of creating synthetic life, to face real life. » It has texture You bite into it, and people don’t. are not nice to you In our world too many people are nice to us And I have found that in the world of politics or the countryside it is brutal there, and it is quite stimulating
GRANT: Well, I certainly recognized in Thorpe what I had found in many, many politicians that I had dealt with, that the motive that drove them into politics was the vanity, and that anyone who said politics was showmanship because ugly was, in fact, correct These were people behaving exactly like spoiled Hollywood actors, just without the acting This is the compelling motive behind Trump and behind Boris Johnson Pure Vanity
GRANT: Oddly, he’s sitting right next to me My mother-in-law just gave him to me
SUTHERLAND: it’s a great book And the character? Does your character ever get the better of you?
GRANT: only one When I was in school I would make a very good impression of our chemistry teacher, Mr. Hammond He spoke with a slight Halifax accent It was very popular And I have found that since then, in the decades since, whenever I got stuck in a role and haven’t figured out how to do it yet. play, M Hammond comes out So yes he haunted me
SUTHERLAND: Every now and then my characters take off in the middle of the movie They don’t say what they’re supposed to say, they lead me through my nose
GRANT: Susanne Bier told me about a few times you did this on The Undoing, and they made me laugh and laugh and laugh
SUTHERLAND: Have you ever wanted to change the script? Like, for your character I change the text on every movie I write it in the final project, send a copy to the writer, they approve it, then we send it to the director I don’t interfere with the lines from someone else, but I’m trying to make the lines given to me match my mouth
GRANT: I fundamentally agree with you, but it’s a thorny business, because if you’re good at it it’s okay, but some actors aren’t good at it Or they’re selfish, and suddenly the new scene arrives for the other actors, and there are pages of dialogue for the person who rewrote it
SUTHERLAND: I’m not changing the intention of the scene, just the words in my mouth
GRANT: It depends on the movie, and there are movies where I added a lot And there are movies where I haven’t But there is a strange thing where if you force yourself to say the line as it is written, although it doesn’t feel quite comfortable it may actually stand out better The older I get the more I realize that
SUTHERLAND: I’m not talking about improvising, you understand I’m just talking about taking the exact same words the writer used, but matching them to my mouth
GRANT: Look, I’m so sorry, but I’m going to have to wrap it up, because I’m being dragged to dinner
World News – UK – Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland enjoy a perfectly horrific conversation
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