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’s the surprising true story of Britain’s blue-eyed leading man.
Hugh Grant Facts
1. He Has Surprising Roots
Hugh John Mungo—Mungo!—Grant took his first breaths on September 9, 1960. He was born in Hammersmith, London to a fairly upperclass English family. His father and grandfather were both military men, while his mother was a teacher. And yet, despite his family’s well-to-do background, things weren’t always easy in the Grant household.
2. His Childhood Wasn’t Easy
Grant has admitted that his family went through some troubled times. Despite his posh accent, his family were not always financially stable when he was a child. Even so, Grant’s parents tried their best to give their son a good upbringing and education. When Grant was a young child, they sent him to an all-boys school where his acting career began to take off—with an odd twist.
3. His First Roles Were Strange
During his early stage roles at his all-boys school, Grant flipped the script. Since he had a reputation for being a “pretty boy,” Grant would almost always play female roles. Looking back, he has said that one of his favorite roles was Brigita Von Trapp.
4. He’s Not What He Seems
Grant is one smart cookie. He went to Oxford University on a competitive scholarship and appeared on the United Kingdom’s version of Jeopardy!, where he competed alongside fellow nerds. Grant even planned on doing a PhD in art history, and (inevitably) becoming the hot professor all the students swooned over. Of course, in the end, Grant became an actor instead—but his path to fame was anything but smooth.
5. His Motivations Were Far From Pure
During his late teens and early twenties, Grant began to break into showbiz with a series of…not very dignified gigs. He worked as a teenage heartthrob model and appeared in some cringey photoshoots. Grant also played a minor role in a tiny film called Priviledged (1982). And he didn’t perform because of some noble love of the theater. As Grant says, he just wanted to romance one of his co-stars and figured that being on set would be a convenient way to put the moves on her. Once a cad, always a cad.
6. His Brother Made Him Famous
After becoming a modestly successful sketch comedian (really) and appearing in some low budget films, Hugh Grant was starting to become disillusioned with showbiz. He took a job writing radio commercials and had almost given up on acting when his brother gave him some “encouragement.” Tired of paying Grant’s bills, his brother forced him to audition for a period drama called Maurice. Little did he know, that audition would change everything.
7. He Made Mistakes
With Maurice, Grant finally landed his first major role. He played a closeted gay man in the acclaimed film version of E.M. Forster’s controversial novel. Critics were quick to notice Grant’s good looks and on-screen talent, however fame and fortune weren’t hot on Grant’s heels. As he admitted, he “squandered” the buzz around his work in Maurice by doing movies that weren’t good “unless you were on a lot of drugs.” And things would get worse before they got better.
8. He Behaved Badly
Before Hugh Grant broke into film roles, he met a director who had some prophetic words for the young actor. As Grant recalls, the director looked him deep in the eyes and said, “You’re very good looking but you’re very badly behaved.” Oh, how right he was…
9. A Movie Changed His Life
Shortly after Maurice, Grant signed up for a production that would change his life: a quirky Italian movie about Lord Byron, co-starring future actress and model, Elizabeth Hurley. The duo immediately hit it off on set and began to date. As Hurley later recalled, Grant was her best on-screen kiss and filming the movie was “very romantic.” She didn’t know, at the time, that their love story was doomed to a WILD end.
10. He Almost Quit
For the next few years, Grant’s personal life was going great. He and Liz Hurley were young, hot, and deeply in love. But professionally, things were pretty bad. Grant’s career floundered as he popped up in random movies and made appearances in a few TV shows. By the time he was 32, Grant was seriously considering quitting acting for good—until one special script made its way to him.
11. He Thought It Was A Mistake
When Hugh Grant got the script for Four Weddings And A Funeral, Grant genuinely couldn’t believe it. He immediately called his agent and said, “You must have made a mistake, you’ve sent me a good script.” Thankfully, it wasn’t a mistake—Grant auditioned for the role and won the part over 70 other actors. Everyone at the studio loved Grant’s charming portrayal of unlucky-in-love Charles…well, everyone except for one person.
12. The Writer Hated Him
The film’s writer, Richard Curtis, admitted that he hated Grant and that he did everything he could think of to keep Grant away from the project. To the joy of women everywhere, he failed—and in retrospect, he has admitted that Grant was perfect for the part. When the movie came out, it was a runaway hit. Virtually overnight, Hugh Grant went from an unknown actor to an instant sensation.
13. His Pay Check Was Pitiful
While filming Four Weddings And A Funeral, most of the cast didn’t have high hopes for the movie. When they all gathered to watch some of the footage from the movie, the actors felt like nothing was coming alive on screen and pretty much accepted that the film would flop. Because of this, Hugh Grant decided to take a flat fee for his performance, instead of a percentage of the movie’s profits.
This was a big mistake. Grant’s on-screen love interest, Andie MacDowell, had faith in the movie and ended up pocketing two million dollars—way, way more than Grant, who has said he made just $30,000 for his role.
14. He Felt Ignored
Although Four Weddings and a Funeral snagged Grant a Golden Globe and a BAFTA, it wasn’t all roses from where Grant was sitting. He lamented 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.” Heads up, reader: You’ll soon learn that this man can be grumpy about literally anything.
15. He Got Shaded
Oh, and the indignity of Grant’s breakout role wasn’t done yet. During filming, Grant wasn’t totally averse to the idea of a nude scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but he got cold feet when the movie’s makeup artist made a shady dig at Grant’s physique. She pitifully looked down at Grant’s untoned stomach and asked if he’d like her to paint some abs on him (ha!). After that, he passed on the love scene.
16. He Made Bad Choices
After Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hugh Grant felt like the world was his oyster. He was offered dozens of leading man roles—only to, in his own words, make all the “wrong decisions.” Instead of taking risky, interesting parts, Grant “repeated myself almost identically about 17 times in a row. I took everything. The worse it was, the quicker I took it.” Unfortunately, he wasn’t exaggerating. The next few years of his career were rocky at best.
17. He Clashed With A Co-Star
One of Grant’s very first roles after Four Weddings proved some of his words right. While the Jane Austen adaptation Sense and Sensibility was a critical and commercial hit, it was also the beginning of Grant getting type-cast as a bumbling Englishman. Perhaps knowing that this wasn’t the best career move, Grant admits that he was miserable during the shoot and that he clashed with his co-star Emma Thompson. Years later, though they’re now friends, he called her “not remotely sane” and “mad as a chair.”
18. He Wasn’t The Popular Choice
Grant wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sure about whether he should play the male lead in Sense and Sensibility. The Jane Ausen Society put together a campaign to complain about Grant’s casting. They said that he was too handsome to play the nebbish character of Edward Ferrars. Everyone’s a critic—even when they’re complimenting you for being hot!
19. His Leading Lady Loathed Him
After Sense and Sensibility, Grant chose his next project: shocker, it was yet another romantic comedy. Grant starred in Nine Months with Julianne Moore. Over the years, he’s been pretty candid about his…interesting experiences while making the movie. According to Grant, he and his leading lady did not get along. He claims that Moore “loathes” him to this day. And that’s not all.
20. He Ruined A Movie
According to Grant, Moore is right to hate him. He admits that he “ruined” the movie and it was “entirely” his fault. Grant recently revealed that he’d never worked on such an expensive, high-profile production and the entire experience made him incredibly insecure. Instead of playing his role naturally, he “pulled faces and overacted”—transforming the movie into a dud. And then the real scandal hit.
21. His Big Debut Got Derailed
Nine Months was supposed to be Hugh Grant’s big introduction to American film audiences. Instead the movie’s buzz got hijacked by Grant’s real-life bad boy behavior. On June 27, 1995—right smack dab in the middle of Hugh Grant’s promotional tour for Nine Months—the actor was caught on the side of the road in a “compromising position.”
22. They Caught Him In The Act
The authorities noticed Grant’s vehicle when they saw that the brake lights kept turning on and off. They went up to investigate the car, only to find a famous actor getting busy with a local sex worker named Divine Brown. After catching Grant in the act, the authorities hauled him and Brown off to the station, where Grant posed for a now-notorious mug shot.
23. He Cheated On His Girlfriend
The scandal made headlines all over the world—and not just because Grant was a rising star. At the time, Grant was not a single man. He was still in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley, who was then (and to be honest, still is) one of the most beautiful women in the world. The idea that he’d cheat on her made jaws drop everywhere.
24. He Owned Up To His Mistake
When it came time for Grant to release a statement about the scandal, his words shocked everyone. Instead of doing what many other actors would have done, Grant did not make any excuses for his behavior. Instead, he owned up to his mistake. He said, “Last night I did something completely insane. I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say.” But his apology, no matter how well-intentioned, couldn’t make his mistake disappear…
25. He Got Punished
Grant never denied what he had done, so when it came time to face judgment, he accepted his punishment. The actor pleaded no contest and paid a fine for nearly $1200. He also had to complete an AIDS education program and was sentenced to two years probation. But even after all that, Grant’s embarrassment still wasn’t completely over.
26. His Fling Shared Her Side Of The Story
Divine Brown, whose real name is Estella Marie Thompson, was also swept up into the media frenzy over Grant’s arrest. She gave a lurid interview to a tabloid where she revealed the story behind that fateful night—and the details were juicy. According to Thompson, Grant’s vehicle began to trail her as she walked down her usual street. At first, she thought that Grant must be a police officer looking to catch her for solicitation. When she approached him, however, she learned that this wasn’t the case—not by a long shot.
27. He Wanted A Good Time
Thompson says that after Grant followed her for a few blocks, she walked over and told him to stop stalking her. At that, Grant immediately apologized and made it clear that he wasn’t there to apprehend her. He wanted to hire her. Thompson claims that Grant used his signature charm to put the moves on her, saying, “I want you. You’re so beautiful. What’s a beautiful girl like you doing on the street?” Unfortunately for Grant, that’s far from the wildest thing he said that night.
28. He’s A Chatty Lover
According to Thompson, she learned a lot about Hugh Grant on her eventful encounter with the actor. In her words, “He kept complimenting me on my lips and my feet. I guess he has a foot fetish, too.” Grant also called her “Cherry Red” because of her red nails and under garments, and confessed that sleeping with a Black woman was his “fantasy.”
29. His Girlfriend Shocked Everyone
After getting caught cheating on his supermodel girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley, everyone expected the British power couple to split. Instead, they stunned everyone by staying together. Hurley even accompanied Grant to his next film premiere as his date. When asked why she did so, despite his betrayal, Hurley gently explained that she didn’t believe in “kicking someone when they’re down.” But later, she revealed her real thoughts on Grant’s dalliance.
30. She Revealed The Truth
Two long months after Hugh Grant posed for his infamous mug shot, Hurley gave her first interview about her boyfriend’s scandal. She admitted that when she learned that Grant had been caught cheating on her with a sex worker, she was devastated. Hurley “felt like I had been shot. I ran out. I think I was—I think I am in shock.” Poor Elizabeth.
31. He Did Something Unpredictable
Even though Hugh Grant was well-known for not believing in monogamy, the scandal with Divine Brown seemed to shake him to his core. Elizabeth Hurley later revealed that the marriage-averse Grant asked her to tie the knot in the aftermath of his betrayal. After seriously considering Grant’s offer, Hurley ultimately said no. As we’ll see, this was the right call.
32. A Co-Star Hated His Guts
Unfortunately, 1995 was shaping up to be a trainwreck of a year for Hugh Grant. He followed up his panned movie Nine Months with the period drama Restoration, where he immediately began a feud with another star. As Hugh Grant said, his co-star Robert Downey Jr. “took one look at me and wanted to kill me.” Why? Oh, RDJ spilled the tea soon enough.
33. He Had A Bad Reputation
According to Downey Jr., he didn’t like Grant for a simple reason: “I kinda think he’s a jerk. Don’t know, I just think he is. My personal experience with him is I think he’s this kind of self-important, kind of, like, boring flash-in-the-pan a—hole Brit.” As a sign of how much they didn’t get along, it took Grant and Downey Jr. over 20 years to finally make up.
34. His Company Flopped
Aaaand the failures kept coming. Even as Grant was raking in the dough as Hollywood’s newest romcom heartthrob, he went through some tough times too. He and Hurley started a doomed production company called Simian Films (because Elizabeth Hurley used to say Grant looked like a monkey). After two unsuccessful movies, Simian Films quickly closed its doors.
35. He Caught Them In A Lie
Grant was ready to face the music when he made a mistake—but he hates when tabloids publish out-and-out lies about him. When a British newspaper claimed that Grant had gone up to an extra on a film set and excoriated them with a “foul-mouthed tongue lashing,” Grant decided that enough was enough. He took the paper to court and won a significant payout when the writer had to admit that they’d made the whole thing up.
36. He Had A Hit
The mid to late 1990s saw some of Grant’s highest highs, but also his lowest lows—he’d been involved in a lawsuit, got caught with his trousers down, and starred in more than a few flops. By 1999, he needed another hit. Luckily, he received the script for Notting Hill just in time. His romantic comedy with Julia Roberts was a huge hit that solidified Grant’s status as a leading man. But on set, the movie wasn’t exactly drama-free.
37. He Felt Emasculated
Grant has always been the kind of guy who kisses and tells. On a chat show, he admitted that he was a bit afraid of Julia Roberts’s famously large mouth and even quipped, “I was aware of a faint echo as I was kissing her.” Roberts also seemed to threaten Grant’s masculinity. Grant admits that while on set, he complained that Roberts’s voice was lower than his and worried that he sounded like a girl in comparison. And off set, Hugh’s love life was even worse.
38. He Lost His Partner
In 2000, after 13 long years, Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley broke up. While they didn’t reveal exactly why they split at the time, they have since shared some key details. According to Grant, their intimate life “fizzled out.” However, Hurley seems to disagree. On a chat show, she rated Grant’s bedroom skills as 10/10. She said they broke up because he was “annoying.” Ha!
39. Her Friends Hated Him
Hurley provided one more legendary reason for her break-up with Hugh Grant. She revealed that her friends hated him, especially his eternally glum moods. They even called him “Grumpelstiltskin.”
40. He Played A New Role
In 2001, Hugh Grant stunned movie audiences by finally playing against type. In the smash hit romantic comedy Bridget Jones’s Diary, Grant didn’t portray one of his trademark sensitive charmers. Instead, he stayed a little closer to his real personality and played a smarmy bad boy. Filming the movie was a positive experience for Grant, even if he later joked that Renee Zellweger was “nuts.” Sadly, though, tragedy lay ahead.
41. He Endured A Tragedy
In 2001, Grant endured a heartbreaking tragedy when his mother sadly passed after an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer. As a sign of how deeply her loss impacted him, Grant supported Pancreatic Cancer Action and became a spokesman and fundraiser for the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity. The actor has continued his charitable work with these associations for years.
42. His Fight Scenes Are…Unique
When speaking of his very British fight scenes with Colin Firth in the Bridget Jones’ Diary series, Grant revealed that the two actors intentionally wanted them to be pathetic. To achieve the hilariously weak punches and limp tackles, Grant says he and Colin Firth banned a stunt coordinator from managing the scenes. Instead, he and Firth played the scene like two old ladies “throwing their handbags at each other.”
43. The Rumor Mill Went Into Overdrive
The year after Bridget Jones, Hugh Grant had yet another hit romcom on his hands. This time, it was the American romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock. Bullock and Grant became close while filming the movie and since both were single at the time, the papers wondered if they would couple up. Even Grant’s ex, Elizabeth Hurley, said they should get together. Instead, Grant’s love life went in a, shall we say, less desirable direction.
44. He Lost Major Roles
Hugh Grant has passed on two famous roles. He was set to play the vain Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Harry Potter film, but dropped out because of scheduling. Around the same time, he was offered the role of the Doctor in the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, only to say no because he thought the show wouldn’t be a hit. Oh, how wrong he was.
45. He Had Another High-Profile Romance
Grant didn’t date Sandra Bullock—but don’t think he stopped romancing eligible brunettes. He was with the billionaire Jemima Khan for three years between 2005-2007. When they broke up, Grant didn’t seem to handle it in the best way…
46. He Lost His temper
In 2007, Grant was fresh off a break-up and getting even snippier with the paparazzi than before. On one now-infamous occasion, Grant accosted a photographer with a very British weapon. The actor screamed “Do you know who I am? I’m a millionaire! Leave me alone!” while throwing a container of baked beans at the gossip hound. And then things got really messy.
47. He Went Too Far
After whipping a tupperware of beans at the photographer, Grant went even further over the line. He shouted that he wanted the man’s partner and kids to get cancer and die. Too far, Hugh. After that, the photographer called the authorities and had Grant taken away for assault. In the end, though, Grant was never charged with anything because there wasn’t enough evidence. However, the whole incident made Grant determined to lash out at the press in another, much more serious way.
48. He Hated Filming A Famous Scene
Grant was famously reluctant about shooting his dancing scene in Love Actually. He A) only wanted to do the scene if the film used a song by the Jackson 5 (the film did not) and B) felt that it would take away from the gravitas of his character who was, after all, the Prime Minister. The director, however, ignored Grant’s pleas and made him shoot the scene.
Despite Hugh’s reluctance, it’s now one of the most memorable parts of the film. But not all his films worked out so well…
49. He Made A Co-Star Cry
2007 saw Grant do more than fling legumes at photographers. It also saw him appear in the successful romantic comedy Music and Lyrics with Drew Barrymore. The movie is charming (and the soundtrack is great), but making the flick? That was a different story. Grant said that it was “tense” on the set and admitted that after Barrymore gave him suggestions for how he could act, he became so upset that he made her cry. In his blunt words, Barrymore “hates” him.
50. A Fan Nearly Kidnapped Him
The premiere of Music and Lyrics was also a complete disaster. While publicizing the movie, a deranged super-fan impersonated a journalist to get close to Grant. Once she had him in her clutches, she whipped out a pair of handcuffs and used them to link Grant and her together. Firefighters had to come separate the duo and escort the lady away from Grant. Yeesh.
51. His Career Went Downhill
In the late 2000s, Grant’s career began to enter a bit of a decline. He appeared in the critical and commercial flop, Did You Hear About the Morgans? in 2009 and around the same time, he made news for dating a fashion designer who was half his age. However, his worst press came after a particularly disastrous interview that made one talk show host ban Grant for ever returning to his studio.
52. He Wasn’t Popular
According to Jon Stewart, his absolute worst celebrity guest of all time was Hugh Grant. He says that Grant gave “everyone sh-t the whole time, and he’s a big pain in the a—. ” When Grant disliked the clip that Stewart played to promote Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Stewart quipped, “Well then, make a better movie.” Ouch.
53. He’s Honest
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 prefers The Remains of the Day and Paddington 2. His worst movie? Night Train to Venice, which holds a measly 2.2/10 on the Internet Movie Database.
54. He Can Seduce Anyone
2009 was a ROLLERCOASTER for Hugh Grant. After infamously not getting along with Drew Barrymore in Music and Lyrics, he was allegedly seen making out with her at a restaurant. Plot twist!
55. He Changed Gears
Apparently, the failure of Did You Hear About the Morgans? made Grant sit down and re-evaluate his career choices. He decided to stop making romantic comedies, saying he felt “too old, ugly, and fat” to keep going. Instead, Grant tried his hand at action (The Man From UNCLE, The Gentlemen), fantasy (Cloud Atlas, where the heartthrob played a terrifying cannibal), and thriller (The Undoing). He received glowing reviews, but even though his movies changed, his lifelong involvement with scandals certainly didn’t…
56. He’s A Real Life James Bond
In 2011, Grant went on a real-life James Bond mission. He was out to prove that the paparazzi were bugging his phones (and the phones of other citizens and celebrities). Grant secretly recorded a reporter admitting that the tabloids regularly listened in on private phone calls—and even more shocking, that the British government and law enforcement officers both knew about this and tacitly allowed it. Some even accepted bribes from media companies. Hugh freaking Grant had uncovered a conspiracy that went to the top of British politics.
57. His Love Life Got Nutty
Everyone praised Grant for his incredible work uncovering the conspiracy and bringing the whole sordid affair to light. However, that same year, he went from a noble whistleblower back to a messy playboy. In 2011, when Grant was 51 years old, he welcomed his first child, a daughter named Tabitha. It should have been a happy day, only for Grant’s controversial reaction to cast a bitter pall over everything.
58. He Released A Shady Statement
When Grant’s representatives issued a statement that confirmed the actor’s new daughter, they did so in an odd way. And by “odd,” I mean, they simultaneously celebrated young Tabitha’s birth while also shading her mother. The statement specified that Grant and the mother “had a fleeting affair” and that the pregnancy was “not planned.” Oh, and that wasn’t all. One day before the news about his daughter broke, Grant was spotted making out with a German burlesque performer who was 30 years younger than him. Classy.
59. No One Knows What Happened
Here’s one thing that Grant’s controversial statement didn’t come out and say: He wasn’t actually around when his daughter was born, which we can all agree is less than ideal. Some reports suggested that Grant simply chose not to attend the birth. Others claimed that the press was so aggressive that Grant feared being followed into the hospital. In this version of events, the mother of Grant’s child, Tinglan Hong, had to get a special injunction so that Grant could see his own baby daughter without being hounded by photographers.
60. He Surprised Everyone
Grant was well known for not loving the idea of settling down with children. But to his surprise—and the surprise of well, everyone—he loved being a dad. Grant joked, “Suddenly you love someone more than yourself, and that’s unheard of for me.” Considering what happened next, it’s probably a good thing that Grant liked fatherhood because wowy, dude was about to become father to more than a few babies.
61. His Personal Life Got Messy
Beware, because this is where the timeline gets messy. In September of 2012, Grant welcomed a baby boy with a different woman: a Swedish woman named Anna Eberstein. Then, just three months later, Grant had another baby, not with his current squeeze Eberstein, but with his old flame, Tinglan Hong (!). Even in his 50s, Grant upheld his playboy rep.
62. He Tied The Knot
The surprises just kept coming. Despite decades of playing the field and saying things like marriage only caused “mutual misery,” Hugh Grant tied the knot. In 2018, at 57 years old, he married his long-time girlfriend (and the mother of three of his children) Anna Eberstein. But don’t think Grant is now a teary-eyed romantic. In an interview, he claimed he only exchanged rings because of “passport reasons.” Swoon.
63. They’re Still Friends
Although Grant and Elizabeth Hurley are not together anymore, they remain on good terms. Grand is godfather to her Hurley’s child Damian and Hurley is godmother to Grant’s daughter Tabitha. The friendly exes say that they’re each other’s best friends. However, being such close buds also means that Hurley can get a little good-natured revenge at her ex.
64. She Got Her Revenge
On her TV show The Royals, Elizabeth Hurley’s character Queen Helena has a spicy scene where she hooks up with a male escort. Taking a jab at Grant’s torrid affair in 1995, the show-runners decided to give the escort a fitting name: “Huge Grant.”
65. He’s On The Rise
In recent years, Grant’s career has enjoyed a rebirth. His hit show The Undoing had viewers guessing until the end, but in my humble opinion, his best role was as Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2. According to Grant, the audition process for Paddington was a little rough. The director called him up and pitched the role with this incredible line: “We’ve written this narcissistic monster of a washed up actor and we thought of you.”
66. He Made Bank
Grant, true to his background as an-almost PhD student in art history, is also an art collector. He purchased an original Andy Warhol portrait of film star Elizabeth Taylor in 2001 for a little less than $4 million. Grant later sold the painting in 2007 for a whopping $23.5 million. That’s a nice little return on a wise investment!
67. He Kisses And Tells
No one is a better interview guest than Hugh Grant because, for better or for worse, he doesn’t shy away from the truth. During one interviewer, the host asked Grant if he ever had a crush on one of his co-stars. He squirmed in his seat a bit before admitting that he fancied all of his leading ladies, then asking why he’d bother doing a movie if he didn’t.