Hugh Grant

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Hugh Grant Pencil Portrait
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In 2010, after turning 50, Hugh Grant declared he “should settle down”, adding that “I don’t want to be 70 and alone. I want children to look after me.”
He clearly wasn’t joking as his subsequent exertions – three children in as many years by two women – amply testify. Passing comment on the behaviour of others inevitably raises accusations of bias, hypocrisy, and proselytization and in any event, he’s busy antagonising legions of female commentators anyway, so I certainly shall not bother.

Nevertheless, whilst giving evidence in 2011 at Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into press standards and ethics in London, the actor admitted that he had no good name to protect – a clear reference to his infamous liaison with a prostitute in the 90’s – thus ostensibly deflecting any accusation of self vested interest from his campaign motives.

But it’s really not as simple as that, and with the responsibility of financially providing for three children under the terms of The Children Act 1989, schedule 1, the actor is probably just now coming to the realisation that, whilst women do think a lot about sex, their thought process is invariably focussed on what the act will achieve for them. Here’s to waking up…

Recommended viewing

Four weddings and a funeral (1994)

There must have been something about Carrie (Andie MacDowell) that left bachelor Charles (Hugh Grant) so smitten after their one night stand, but God only knows what it was. We certainly never find out, thanks in no small part to the shortcomings of Richard Curtis’s screenplay and director Mike Newell’s obsessive play on never ending twists and turns.

Of course, I laughed along with everyone else when I first saw it but somehow the main protagonists’ cavalier attitude towards sexual interludes and their bumbling predilection to trampling on the feelings of others wears progressively thin with repeated viewings. Much of the on-screen fault must lie with MacDowell who miserably fails to carry off the part of the havoc-wreaking femme-fatale. Perhaps she should have maintained her L’Oreal contract instead?

Charles remains enchanted throughout by a woman who looks at him with expressions that alternate between bored and blase. When Carrie arrives at Wedding Number Two childishly brandishing her wealthy, doddering fiance, Hamish, like a new toy, I finally snapped. Why the hell didn’t Charles simply ignore her? Instead we see a frazzled lead character whimpering like a wounded puppy. While Newell gets some laughs out of rather predictable run-ins with Charles’ ex-girlfriends, this whole interlude of petty jealousies, social faux pas, and missed connections again skirts the question of just why Charles is so infatuated with an American woman whose sole calling in life seems to be traipsing around England looking good in big hats and picking up wealthy octogenerian boyfriends.

Immensely popular at the box office, it turned Grant into a genuine bona-fide movie star; a pity therefore that the project would ultimately prove so underwhelming.

Extreme Measures (1996)

Ditching the foppish mannerisms, and pitched head to head on moral issues with Gene Hackman, Grant benefits from a literate and intelligent script that elevates this medical thriller.

Michael Apted’s taut direction charts Grant’s descent into conspiratorial waters, as the young doctor in the A&E department of a New York teaching hospital, becomes increasingly intrigued by the perplexing symptoms of a fatally disturbed mystery patient. The disappearance of the body spurs him to dig deeper into the case; the resultant trail bringing him to the attention of the eminent surgeon Dr Lawrence Myrick (Gene Hackman). Before long, he finds himself in danger from shadowy figures who want the hospital’s secret to remain undiscovered. With nurse Jessica Parker (pre ‘Sex in the city’) on hand to lend support and romantic involvement, Grant\‘s odyssey leads to his arrest for the wrongful possession of narcotics, the loss of his medical license and spinal immobilisation, but all is not what it seems.

There’s more than a hint of ‘Coma’(1978) in the film’s treatise on medical ethics, and the finer points are somewhat laboured, but Hackman’s involving performance, as the researcher bending the rules in the treatment of spinal injuries, never leaves the arguments cut and dried. An effective mainstream movie, Grant is believable as the resolute and opinionated junior doctor, in the first release from his jointly owned production company.

A Very English Scandal (BBC Tv 3 Part Drama) 2018

Bravo Mr Grant – taking time out from fathering children – he managed to find sufficient time to put a faltering career back on track. Yes, “A Very English Scandal” takes some liberties with the truth but it’s funny, playing out to its natural conclusion and Thorpe’s High Court acquittal, with verve and aplomb.

In the final episode, his second wife assures him that she’s a woman of the world and over cod in parsley sauce they talk frankly, or rather, as frankly as repressed upper class stereotypes ever can. Before marrying, he dabbled with men, he tells her. “To relieve myself,” he says, glancing down towards his dabbling area. it’s one of many highlights in this riveting three part drama.

Relieving himself would preclude Thorpe cutting a deal with Heath to form a coalition Government in February 1974. An historic cavalier attitude towards illicit and illegal sex would usher in a startling five year fall from grace. Having lost his political seat in 1979, the once charismatic Liberal leader would be cast to the political wilderness. It beggars belief that any politician would stand for election whilst on bail for conspiracy to murder but Thorpe did. Plain bravado, or merely a longstanding contempt for the lower classes? You decide.

The tone throughout is just right and the trial recreation just leaves the viewer reeling, seething and laughing in equal measure. Yes – scandalous and very English.