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Hugh Grant (1960)

Hugh John Mungo Grant

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  Summary  

Hugh John Mungo Grant is an English actor and film producer. He has received a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA, and an Honorary César. His films have earned more than $2.4 billion from 25 theatrical releases worldwide. Grant achieved international stardom after appearing in Richard Curtis's sleeper hit Four Weddings and a Funeral . He used this breakthrough role as a frequent cinematic persona during the 1990s to deliver comic performances in mainstream films like Mickey Blue Eyes and Notting Hill . By the turn of the 21st century, he had established himself as a leading man skilled with a satirical comic talent. Since the 2000s, Grant has expanded his oeuvre with critically acclaimed turns as a cad in Bridget Jones's Diary , About A Boy , Love Actually , and American Dreamz .

Within the film industry, Grant is cited as an anti-film star who approaches his roles like a character actor, with the ability to make acting look effortless. Hallmarks of his comic skills include a nonchalant touch of irony/sarcasm and studied physical mannerisms as well as his precisely-timed dialogue delivery and facial expressions. The entertainment media's coverage of Grant's life off the big screen has often overshadowed his work as a thespian. He has been vocal about his disrespect for the profession of acting, and in his disdain towards the culture of celebrity and hostility towards the media. In a career spanning 30 years, Grant has repeatedly claimed that acting is not a true calling but just a job he fell into.

  Biography  

 career
Grant's first leading role came in Merchant-Ivory's 1987 Edwardian drama, Maurice, adapted from E.M. Forster's novel of the same name. He and co-star James Wilby shared the Volpi Cup for best actor at the Venice Film Festival for their portrayals of Cantabrigian collegians Clive Durham and Maurice Hall, respectively. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Grant balanced small roles on television with rare film work, which included a supporting role in The Dawning , opposite Anthony Hopkins and a turn as Lord Byron in a Goya Award-winning Spanish production called Remando al viento . He also portrayed some other real life figures during in his early career such as Charles Heidsieck in Champagne Charlie and as Hugh Cholmondeley in BAFTA Award-nominated White Mischief.

In 1990, he made a cameo appearance in the sport/crime drama The Big Man, opposite Liam Neeson, and in which Grant assumed a Scottish accent. The film explores the life of a Scottish miner who becomes unemployed during a union strike. In 1991, he played Julie Andrews' gay son in the ABC made-for-television film Our Sons.

In 1992, he appeared in Roman Polanski's film Bitter Moon, portraying a fastidious and proper British tourist who is married, but finds himself enticed by the sexual hedonism of a seductive French woman and her embittered, paraplegic American husband. The film was called an "anti-romantic opus of sexual obsession and cruelty" by the Washington Post. His other work in period pieces such as Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm , award-winning Merchant-Ivory drama The Remains of the Day and (as Frédéric Chopin in) Impromptu went largely unnoticed. He later called this phase of his career "hilarious," referring to his early films as "Europuddings, where 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."

At 32, Grant claimed to be on the brink of giving up the acting profession but was surprised by the script of Four Weddings and a Funeral . "If you read as many bad scripts as I did, you'd know how grateful you are when you come across one where the guy actually is funny," he later recalled. Released in 1994, FWAAF became the highest-grossing British film to date with a worldwide box office in excess of $244 million, making Grant an overnight international star. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, and among numerous awards won by its cast and crew, it earned Grant his first and only Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical Or Comedy and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. It also temporarily typecast him as the lead character, Charles, a bohemian and debonair bachelor. Grant and Curtis saw it as an inside joke that the star, due to the parts he played, was assumed to have the personality of the screenwriter, who is known for writing about himself and his own life. Grant later expressed:

Although I owe whatever success I've had to 'Four Weddings and a Funeral,' it did become frustrating after a bit that people made two assumptions: One was that I was that character – when in fact nothing could be further from the truth, as I'm sure Richard would tell you – and the other frustrating thing was that they thought that's all I could do. I suppose, because those films happened to be successful, no one, perhaps understandably, ... bothered to rent all the other films I'd done.

In July 1994, Grant signed a two-year production deal with Castle Rock Entertainment and by October, he became founder and director of the UK-based Simian Films Limited. He appointed his then-girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley, as the head of development to look for prospective projects. Simian Films produced two Grant vehicles in the 1990s and lost a bid to produce About a Boy to Robert De Niro's TriBeCa Productions. The company closed its U.S. office in 2002 and Grant resigned as director in December 2005.

1995 saw the release of Grant's first studio-financed Hollywood project, Chris Columbus's comedy Nine Months. Though a hit at the box office, it was almost universally panned by critics. The Washington Post called it a "grotesquely pandering caper" and singled out Grant's performance, as a child psychiatrist reacting unfavourably to his girlfriend's unexpected pregnancy, for his "insufferable muggings." The same year, he played leading roles as Emma Thompson's suitor in Ang Lee’s Academy Award-winning adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and as a cartographer in 1917 Wales in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. In the same year he performed in the Academy Award-winning Restoration.

Grant then reunited with the director of FWAAF, Mike Newell, for the tragicomedy An Awfully Big Adventure that was labelled a "determinedly offbeat film" by The New York Times. Grant portrayed a bitchy, supercilious director of a repertory company in post-World War II Liverpool. Critic Roger Ebert wrote, "It shows that he has range as an actor," but the San Francisco Chronicle disapproved on grounds that the film "plays like a vanity production for Grant." Janet Maslin, praising Grant as "superb" and "a dashing cad under any circumstances," commented, "For him this film represents the road not taken. Made before Four Weddings and a Funeral was released, it captures Mr. Grant as the clever, versatile character actor he was then becoming, rather than the international dreamboat he is today." Grant made his debut as a film producer with the 1996 thriller Extreme Measures, a commercial and critical failure.

After a three year hiatus, in 1999 he paired with Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, which was brought to theatres by much of the same team that was responsible for FWAAF. This new Working Title production displaced FWAAF as the biggest British hit in the history of cinema, with earnings equalling $363 million worldwide. As it became exemplary of modern romantic comedies in mainstream culture, the film was also received well by critics. CNN reviewer Paul Clinton said, "Notting Hill stands alone as another funny and heartwarming story about love against all odds." Reactions to Grant's Golden Globe-nominated performance were varied, with Salon.com's Stephanie Zacharek criticising that, "Grant's performance stands as an emblem of what's wrong with Notting Hill. What's maddening about Grant is that he just never cuts the crap. He's become one of those actors who's all shambling self-caricature, from his twinkly crow's feet to the time-lapsed half century it takes him to actually get one of his lines out." The film provided both its stars a chance to satirise the woes of international notoriety, most noted of which was Grant's turn as a faux-journalist who sits through a dull press junket with, what the New York Times called, "a delightfully funny deadpan." Grant also released his second production output, a fish-out-of-water mob comedy Mickey Blue Eyes, that year. It was dismissed by critics, performed modestly at the box office, and garnered its actor-producer mixed reviews for his starring role. Roger Ebert thought, "Hugh Grant is wrong for the role strikes one wrong note and then another," whereas Kenneth Turan, writing in the Los Angeles Times, said, "If he'd been on the Titanic, fewer lives would have been lost. If he'd accompanied Robert Scott to the South Pole, the explorer would have lived to be 100. That's how good Hugh Grant is at rescuing doomed ventures."

While promoting Woody Allen’s Small Time Crooks on NBC’s The Today Show in 2000, Grant told host Matt Lauer, “It's my millennium of bastards.” In 2000, Grant also joined the Supervisory Board of IM Internationalmedia AG, the powerful Munich-based film and media company.
Small Time Crooks starred Grant, in the words of film critic Andrew Sarris, as "a petty, petulant, faux-Pygmalion art dealer, David, is one of the sleaziest and most unsympathetic characters Mr. Allen has ever created." In a role devoid of his comic attributes, the New York Times wrote: "Mr. Grant deftly imbues his character with exactly a perfect blend of charm and nasty calculation." A year later, his turn as a charming but womanising book publisher Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones's Diary was proclaimed by Variety to be "as sly an overthrow of a star's polished posh – and nice – poster image as any comic turn in memory." The film, adapted from Helen Fielding's novel of the same name, was an international hit, earning $281 million worldwide. Grant was, according to the Washington Post, fitting as "a cruel, manipulative cad, hiding behind the male god's countenance that he knows all too well."

Grant's "immaculate comic performance" as the trust-funded womaniser, Will Freeman, in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's best-selling novel About a Boy received raves from critics. Almost universally praised, with an Academy Award-nominated screenplay, About a Boy was determined by the Washington Post to be "that rare romantic comedy that dares to choose messiness over closure, prickly independence over fetishised coupledom, and honesty over typical Hollywood endings." Rolling Stone wrote, "The acid comedy of Grant's performance carries the film gives this pleasing heartbreaker the touch of gravity it needs," while Roger Ebert observed that "the Cary Grant department is understaffed, and Hugh Grant shows here that he is more than a star, he is a resource." Released a day after the blockbuster Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, About a Boy was a more modest box office grosser than other successful Grant films, making all of $129 million globally. The film earned Grant his third Golden-Globe nomination, while the London Film Critics Circle named Grant its Best British Actor and GQ honoured him as one of the magazine's men of the year 2002. "His performance can only be described as revelatory," wrote critic Ann Hornaday, adding that "Grant lends the shoals layer upon layer of desire, terror, ambivalence and self-awareness." The New York Observer concluded: " gets most of its laughs from the evolved expertise of Hugh Grant in playing characters that audiences enjoy seeing taken down a peg or two as a punishment for philandering and womanising and simply being too handsome for words-and with an English accent besides. In the end, the film comes over as a messy delight, thanks to the skill, generosity and good-sport, punching-bag panache of Mr. Grant's performance." About a Boy also marked a notable change in Grant's boyish look. Gone were the floppy locks that had become his trademark, with Grant now sporting a cropped haircut. He has retained this look since.

Grant was also paired with Sandra Bullock in Warner Bros.'s Two Weeks Notice, which made $199 million internationally but was judged poorly by professional reviewers. The Village Voice concluded that Grant's creation of a spoiled billionaire fronting a real estate business was "little more than a Britishism machine."

Two Weeks Notice was followed by the 2003 ensemble comedy, Love Actually, headlined by Grant as the British Prime Minister. A Christmas release by Working Title Films, the film was promoted as "the ultimate romantic comedy" and accumulated $246 million at the international box office. It marked the directorial debut of Richard Curtis, who told the New York Times that Grant adamantly tempered the characterisation of the role to make his character more authoritative and less haplessly charming than earlier Curtis incarnations. Roger Ebert claimed that "Grant has flowered into an absolutely splendid romantic comedian" and has "so much self-confidence that he plays the British prime minister as if he took the role to be a good sport." Film critic Rex Reed, on the contrary, called Grant's performance "an oversexed bachelor spin on Tony Blair" as the star "flirted with himself in the paroxysm of self-love that has become his acting style."

A speech delivered by Grant in Love Actually – where he extols the virtues of Great Britain and refuses to cave to the pressure of its longstanding ally, the United States – was etched in the transatlantic memory as a satirical, wishful statement on the concurrent Bush-Blair relationship. Blair responded by saying, "I know there's a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in Love Actually and tell America where to get off. But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there's the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause."

In 2004, Grant reprised his role as Daniel Cleaver for a small part in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which, like its predecessor, made more than $262 million commercially. Gone from the screen for two years, Grant next reteamed with Paul Weitz for the black comedy American Dreamz . Grant starred as the acerbic host of an American Idol-like reality show where, according to Caryn James of the New York Times, "nothing is real ... except the black hole at the centre of the host's heart, as Mr. Grant takes Mr. Cowell's villainous act to its limit." American Dreamz failed financially but Grant was generously praised. He played his self-aggrandising character, an amalgam of Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, with smarmy self-loathing. The Boston Globe proposed that this "just may be the great comic role that has always eluded Hugh Grant," and critic Carina Chocano said, "He is twice as enjoyable as the preening bad guy as he was as the bumbling good guy."

In 2007, Grant starred opposite Drew Barrymore in a parody of pop culture and the music industry called Music and Lyrics. The Associated Press described it as "a weird little hybrid of a romantic comedy that's simultaneously too fluffy and not whimsical enough." Though he neither listens to music nor owns any CDs, Grant learned to sing, play the piano, dance and studied the mannerisms of prominent musicians to prepare for his role as a has-been pop singer, based loosely on Andrew Ridgeley. The Star-Ledger dismissed the performance, writing that "paper dolls have more depth." The film, with its revenues totalling $145 million, allowed Grant to mock disposable pop stardom and fleeting celebrity through its washed-up lead character. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Grant strikes precisely the right note with regard to Alex's career: He's too intelligent not to be a little embarrassed, but he's far too brazen to feel anything like shame." In 2009, Grant starred opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in the romantic comedy Did You Hear About the Morgans?, which was a commercial as well as a critical failure.

In 2011, Grant reportedly turned down the starring role in Chuck Lorre's Two and a Half Men reboot, replacing Charlie Sheen's vacated role. He turned down the role due to creative differences.

 personal life
In 1987, while playing Lord Byron in a Spanish production called Remando Al Viento , Grant met actress Elizabeth Hurley, who was cast in a supporting role as Byron's former lover Claire Clairmont. Grant started dating the aspiring model while shooting and their relationship was subsequently the subject of much media attention. After 13 years together, the two made "a mutual and amicable decision" to split in May 2000. In 2004, he began dating Jemima Khan under the intense scrutiny of British tabloids. Three years later, in February 2007, Grant's publicist announced that the couple had "decided to split amicably." The spokesman added, "Hugh has nothing but positive things to say about Jemima."

In November 2011, it was announced that Grant had become a father to a baby girl earlier that autumn. The identity of the mother, with whom Grant had had a "fleeting affair" according to his publicist, was not at first announced; however, it was later revealed to be a Chinese woman, Tinglan Hong. The publicist went on to say that "while this was not planned, Hugh could not be happier or more supportive. He and the mother have discussed everything and are on very friendly terms."

A famous "golfing addict", Grant is a scratch golfer and is a regular at pro-am tournaments with membership at the Sunningdale Golf Club. He is also frequently pictured by the paparazzi at the famed Scottish golf courses in St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. Highly competitive, he reportedly plays with a lot of money at stake. As a young boy, he played rugby union on his school's first XV team at centre and played football as an avid fan of Fulham F.C.. He is also a fan of Scottish side Rangers F.C. thanks to his grandfather who was Scottish. He continued to play in a Sunday-morning football league in south-west London after college and remains an "impassioned Fulham supporter." Grant's other interests include snooker and tennis.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Hugh Grant", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.