Grant, Hugh


Grant, Hugh
▪ 2002

      Although in real life British film actor Hugh Grant could occasionally be a scoundrel—witness his 1995 arrest with a prostitute and his resultant “I did a bad thing” apology tour of American television talk shows—in “reel” life he was generally known to the public as the boyishly appealing leading man who finally got the girl. That was not the case in 2001, however, when in Bridget Jones's Diary he portrayed the womanizing boss and scheming sometime lover of the film's leading character. According to Grant, his character was closer to his off-screen personality than most of the roles he previously had played. In most people's minds, however, he was not a cad but rather an endearing, stammering, bumbling, and funny love interest—much like the one they had taken to in Grant's first big hit, Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).

      Hugh John Mungo Grant was born on Sept. 9, 1960, in London. It was not until his senior year at the University of Oxford, where he was studying English literature, that he became involved in acting. He appeared in a student film, Privileged (1982), and joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Following graduation (1982), Grant wrote and occasionally performed in radio commercials and attempted to write a novel before turning once again to acting. His stage debut came at the Nottingham (Eng.) Playhouse in 1985. He went from there to London, where he formed the Jockeys of Norfolk comedy troupe, for which he wrote, directed, and performed in revues. He began his professional film career with the James Ivory–Ismail Merchant film Maurice (1987), for which he won a best actor award at the Venice Film Festival, and added numerous films and television productions to his credits, including White Mischief (1988), Impromptu (1991), The Remains of the Day (1993), and Sirens (1994). It was his charming performance in Four Weddings and a Funeral, however, that brought him to the attention of the general public; he also won the Golden Globe best actor award and was named best actor by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Grant quickly followed up with An Awfully Big Adventure, The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain, Restoration, Nine Months, and Sense and Sensibility, all of which were released in 1995. He took on a more serious role in Extreme Measures (1996) but returned to romantic comedy in Notting Hill (1999), Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), and Small Time Crooks (2000).

      Given that one of Grant's most commented-upon physical attributes was his unruly mop of hair, audiences for his forthcoming film, About a Boy, were in for another surprise. In addition to playing another irresponsible womanizer—though this time one who wises up—he would be sporting a much shorter and more conventional haircut.

Barbara Whitney

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▪ British actor
in full  Hugh John Mungo Grant 
born Sept. 9, 1960, Hammersmith, London, Eng.

      British actor best known for his leading roles as the endearing and funny love interest in romantic comedies.

      It was not until Grant's senior year at the University of Oxford, where he was studying English literature, that he became involved in acting. He appeared in a student film, Privileged (1982), and joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Following graduation (1982), Grant wrote and occasionally performed in radio commercials and attempted to write a novel before turning once again to acting. His stage debut came at the Nottingham (Eng.) Playhouse in 1985. Moving to London, he formed the Jockeys of Norfolk comedy troupe, for which he wrote, directed, and performed in revues.

      Grant began his professional film career with the James Ivory–Ismail Merchant film Maurice (1987), for which he won a best actor award at the Venice Film Festival. It was his charming performance as a British bachelor in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), however, that brought him to the attention of the general public; he won a Golden Globe Award for best actor and was named best actor by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Grant quickly followed up with Nine Months and a film adaptation of Jane Austen (Austen, Jane)'s Sense and Sensibility, both of which were released in 1995. He took on a more serious role in Extreme Measures (1996), portraying an emergency room doctor, but he returned to romantic comedy with Notting Hill (1999), in which he starred as a bookstore owner who falls in love with a movie star (played by Julia Roberts (Roberts, Julia)).

      Stepping out of his trademark role as the boyishly appealing leading man who ultimately gets the girl, Grant portrayed the womanizing boss and scheming sometime lover of the title character (Renée Zellweger) in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001). His later films include About a Boy (2002), an adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel; Love Actually (2003); and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). In 2007 Grant starred opposite Drew Barrymore as an aging pop star in Music and Lyrics.

Barbara Whitney
 

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Universalium. 2010.

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