Charmed, I’m sure—by Hugh Grant! This always proper, sometimes abashed Englishman has made a career out of his sly wit, great hair and the fact that he looks pretty darn good in a romantic comedy. From the height of his boy-next-door status to the (juicy) low of his infamous scandal, here are 41 charming facts about Hugh Grant.
41. Silver Spoon
Hugh John Mungo—Mungo!—Grant was born on September 9, 1960 in Hammersmith, London to a fairly upperclass English family. His father, who trained at the prestigious Sandhurst, is Captain James Murray Grant, and his grandfather, Colonel James Murray Grant, is a decorated solider. Hugh is also related to an assortment of Viscounts, Marquesses, and Earls. One genealogist described Grant’s family as made up of a “tapestry of warriors, empire-builders and aristocracy.” Sounds about right to me.
Grant has always wanted to make a film about his grandfather’s life as a POW during World War II and his eventual escape from the POW camp.
39. Old Money, No Money
Despite his storied ancestry, Grant has admitted that his family went through some troubled times and were not always financially comfortable when he was a child.
38. Musical Aptitude
Grant’s mother Fyvola was a music and school teacher and when he was young Grant got to learn the piano from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mother.
37. A Mother’s Touch
To go along with his genealogy, Grant sports an ever-coveted upperclass English accent; he got it from his mother, whom he also credits with “any acting genes that [he] might have.”
36. An Early Goodbye
Unfortunately, Grant’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and just 18 months later, in 2001, she died at the age of 65.
35. Charm and Wit
Grant is one smart cookie: he attended Wetherby School, an independent prep school, and then got into Latymer Upper School on a scholarship. While at Latymer, Grant was on the quiz show Top of the Form where two teams of secondary school students compete against each other in an academic contest.
34. Oxford Man
Grant would later attend Oxford University (at New College) for English—again on scholarship.
33. Dr. Hugh
He then almost started a PhD at the University of London in Art History. Can you imagine Professor Grant? I can, and it involves a lot of charmingly askew glasses and tweed. He only turned down the offer to study at the University of London because this time he didn’t receive a grant.
32. Mais Oui
Grant can speak fluent French.
31. Secret Society
As a young man Grant was known to have some fun. While at Oxford he joined the Piers Gaveston Society, an extremely exclusive club that had a “reputation for debauchery and decadence.” I suddenly feel the urge to get in touch with Grant’s old school pals over drinks to hear some stories.
Grant’s first film was technically 1982’s Privileged, which was produced by the Oxford University Film Foundation and made just after he graduated school. In the film he is credited as “Hughie Grant.”
29. The Jockeys of Norfolk
Grant ground his way through the early 80s with a series of small acting parts and also worked in The Jockeys of Norfolk (a title taken from Shakespeare, natch), a comedy troupe he founded with some friends.
28. Literary Adaptation
His first real, leading film role was a in Maurice in 1987; fittingly for Grant’s background in English literature, the film was adapted from the E.M. Forster novel.
Grant’s career floundered a little at the beginning and he refers to many of his early films as “Europuddings” because, in his words, “you would have a French script, a Spanish director, and English actors. The script would usually be written by a foreigner, badly translated into English. And then they’d get English actors in, because they thought that was the way to sell it to America.”
26. Big Break
Before he had his breakthrough role in Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994, Grant was 32 and just about ready to give up on acting. It’s lucky for us all that he didn’t—when the film came out, Grant became an instant sensation.
25. Type Cast
Although Four Weddings and a Funeral snagged Grant a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, it wasn’t all roses from where he was sitting. He laments that, because of his character Charles in the film, he was often typecast in the succeeding years as a careless bachelor. Grant grumbled: “No one … bothered to rent all the other films I’d done.”
24. The Definition of Awkward
Grant wasn’t totally averse to the idea of a nude scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but he got cold feet and opted out when the makeup artist pondered whether or not he’d like definition painted on his body for the bare-all scene.
23. Monkey Business
Grant named his production company Simian Films because his then-girlfriend (and screen legend in her own right) Elizabeth Hurley used to say he looked like a monkey. He and Hurley dated from 1987 to 2000.
When James Caan worked with Grant in 1999’s Mickey Blue Eyes he dubbed the svelte English actor “Whippy” because of Grant’s nervous nature. As Caan said, Grant would fuss about like “the little whippet dogs that get nervous and you got to put a sweater on them when they’re cold.”
21. Confirmed Bachelor
Grant has never been married.
20 It’s All Connected
Grant and his Love Actually co-star Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays the adorable, smitten Sam in the feel-good romantic comedy, are actually second cousins once removed.
19. Brother, Actually
Love Actually’s cast and crew are connected in more ways than one. In 1995 Grant played the love interest of Emma Thompson’s character in the film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, while in Love Actually Grant plays her brother (who just happens to be Prime Minister of Great Britain).
18. Drop Out
Hugh Grant was all set to play Gilderoy Lockhart in the Harry Potter films, but dropped out because of scheduling. Ah, what could have been!
17. Best and Worst
Grant has some pronounced opinions on his career. Though Four Weddings and a Funeral kick-started his stardom, and Love Actually remains one of his most re-watched films, Grant himself has some other ideas. He has said that The Remains of the Day, which came out in 1993, is the best film he’s ever made. His worst? Night Train to Venice, which actually premiered the same year as The Remains of the Day.
16. Woman on Top
Grant’s co-star in the smash-hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, Andie MacDowell, ended up making $1.9 million more on the film than Grant did. Why is that? Well, it’s not because Hollywood briefly fixed up its equal pay problem, it’s because MacDowell had some faith in the film. Instead of taking a fee on the movie, she opted for percentage earnings. Since the film was a resounding success, she ended up making $2 million on the back end deal, while Grant received a stable fee of $100,000.
Grant has said that his favorite female actresses to work with have been Renée Zellweger and Sandra Bullock.
David Thomson, a film critic, is perhaps not Grant’s greatest fan, or at least he wasn’t in 2010 when he wrote that while Grant, with his “quaff of hair” and “dithery manner,” looked like a “refugee from Thirties theatre,” he also might equally resemble “an incipient sneeze looking for a vacant nose.” Um, thanks, I guess?
13. Let’s Still Be Friends
Although Grant and Elizabeth Hurley are not together anymore they remain on good terms: he is Godfather to her son Damian and she is Godmother to his daughter Tabitha.
12. Grandpa Daddy
Grant has four children in total, two with ex-girlfriend Tinglan Hong, and two with ex-girlfriend Anna Eberstein. Grant first became a father in his 50s.
11. Fling or No Fling
His publicist notoriously described Grant and Hong’s relationship after the announcement of his first child with her as a “fleeting affair.” Of course, he then went and had a second child with her, so something was off about that assessment.
10. Missed Opportunity
Like most British actors, Grant was involved with the UK television show Doctor Who. He played the Doctor in Comic Relief: Doctor Who – Curse of the Fatal Death in 1999, and was actually asked to reprise a version of the role in the 2005 revival of the show. However, Grant turned the role down—he didn’t think the series would be popular. Boy, was he wrong!
9. Who Run the World?
The actor has said that two of his favorite sports to watch are women’s tennis and women’s golf!
8. Pulling Punches
When speaking of his (in)famous, very British fight scenes with Colin Firth in the Bridget Jones’ Diary series, Grant has maintained that the two actors wanted “to make sure it was just as crap as we wanted it to be.” In order to achieve the pathetic punches and limp tackles, Grant says they prevented a stunt coordinator from overtaking the scenes. As he put it, “We just wanted it to be two pathetic Englishmen scared of each other, throwing their handbags at each other, basically.”
7. Cover Boy
Grant appeared on the cover of GQ three times between the years 1994-2002.
6. Art Collector
Grant, true to his background as an-almost PhD student in art history, is also an art collector. He purchased an original Andy Warhol of Elizabeth Taylor in 2001 for a little less than $4 million. He later sold the painting in 2007 for $23.5 million. A nice little return on investment!
5. Grumpy Grant
The British rags frequently refer to Grant as “grumpy,” and the feeling is mutual—he doesn’t like the media very much, and has sued magazines and newspapers for libel several times over the years.
4. Sting Operation
In 2011, Grant wrote a well-received and much-talked-about article for New Statesman, “The Bugger, Bugged,” which exposed journalists’ habits of phone tapping celebrities. Grant received the information by himself bugging former paprazzo Paul McMcullan, who claimed that editors at the Daily Mail and News of the World were running these phone tapping projects with the tacit understanding of British politicians.
3. Everybody Dance Now
Grant was famously reluctant about shooting his dancing scene in Love Actually—he felt that it would take away from the gravitas of his character who was, after all, the Prime Minister, while director Richard Curtis wanted a more lighthearted portrayal. It obviously ended up working out; it’s one of the most memorable scenes from the film.
Another reason for Grant’s reluctance during the scene? Although the final cut of Love Actually has him dancing to “Jump (For My Love),” Grant really wanted to get a Jackson 5 song for the dance number. When the production failed to snag the rights, Grant was “hugely unhappy about it.”
1. Divine Brown
In 1995, Grant caused an enormous tabloid scandal when police discovered him in a public place just off Sunset Boulevard in LA receiving oral sex from Divine Brown, a Hollywood sex worker. Grant was fined $1,180, given two years probation and had to enroll in an AIDS education program. The kicker of all of this though? He was dating Elizabeth Hurley at the time and continued to after.
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