- Hugh John Mungo Grant
September 09, 1960 (age 60)
- Actor, Film Producer
- Elizabeth Hurley
- Finvola Grant, James Grant
Hugh John Mungo Grant (born 9 September 1960) is an English actor and film producer. He has received a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and an Honorary César. His films have earned more than US$2.4 billion from 25 theatrical releases worldwide. Grant achieved international success after appearing in the Richard Curtis-scripted Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). He used this breakthrough role as a frequent cinematic persona during the 1990s, delivering comic performances in mainstream films like Mickey Blue Eyes (1999) and Notting Hill (1999). By the turn of the 21st century, he had established himself as a leading man skilled with a satirical comic talent. Grant has expanded his oeuvre with critically acclaimed turns as a cad in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), About a Boy (2002), and American Dreamz (2006). He later played against type with multiple cameo roles in the epic sci-fi drama film Cloud Atlas (2012).
Within the film industry, Grant is cited as an anti-film star who approaches his roles like a character actor, and attempts to make his acting appear spontaneous. 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 an actor. He has been outspoken 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.
Early life and ancestry
Grant was born at Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith, London, the second son of Fynvola Susan MacLean (b. Wickham, Hampshire, 11 October 1933; d. Hounslow, London, July 2001) and Captain James Murray Grant (b. 1929). Genealogist Antony Adolph has described Grant's family history as "a colourful Anglo-Scottish tapestry of warriors, empire-builders and aristocracy," including William Drummond, 4th Viscount Strathallan and Dr. James Stewart. John Murray, 1st Marquess of Atholl, Heneage Finch, 1st Earl of Nottingham, Rt. Hon. Sir Evan Nepean, and a sister of former British Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, are a few of his notable maternal ancestors. Grant's grandfather, Major James Murray Grant, DSO was decorated for bravery and leadership at Saint-Valery-en-Caux during World War II.
Grant's father was trained at Sandhurst, Berkshire and served with the Seaforth Highlanders for eight years in Malaya, Germany and Scotland. He ran a carpet firm, pursued hobbies such as golf and painting watercolours, and raised his family in Chiswick, west London, where the Grants lived next to Arlington Park Mansions on Sutton Lane. In September 2006, a collection of Capt. Grant's paintings was hosted by the John Martin Gallery in a charity exhibition, organised by his famous son, called "James Grant: 30 Years of Watercolours." His mother worked as a schoolteacher and taught Latin, French and music for more than 30 years in the state schools of west London. She died at the age of 65, 18 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Grant's accent is an inheritance from his mother; and, on Inside the Actors Studio in 2002, he credited her with "any acting genes that [he] might have." Both his parents were children of military families, but, despite his parents' backgrounds, Grant has stated that his family was not always affluent while he was growing up. Grant spent his childhood summers shooting and hunting with his grandfather in Scotland. Grant's elder brother, James "Jamie" Grant, is a successful banker as managing director, Head of Healthcare, Consumer, & Retail Investment Banking Coverage, at JPMorgan Chase in New York.
Grant started his education at Hogarth Primary School in Chiswick but then moved to St Peter's Primary School in Hammersmith, Grant was educated at Wetherby School . From 1969 to 1978, he attended the independent Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith on a scholarship and played 1st XV rugby, cricket and football for the school. He also represented Latymer on the popular quiz show, Top of the Form, an academic competition between two teams of four secondary school students each.
In 1979, Grant won the Galsworthy scholarship to New College, Oxford where he starred in his first film, Privileged, produced by the Oxford University Film Foundation, OUFF. He studied English literature and graduated with 2:1 honours. Actress Anna Chancellor, who met Grant while she was still at school, has recalled, "I first met Hugh at a party at Oxford. There was something magical about him. He was a star even then, without having done anything. Grant joined the exclusive Piers Gaveston Society at Oxford, a group with a reputation for debauchery and decadence."
Grant received an offer from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London to pursue a PhD in the history of art, but decided not to take the offer because he failed to secure a grant. Viewing acting as nothing more than a creative outlet, he joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society and starred in a successful touring production of Twelfth Night.
After making his debut as Hughie Grant in the Oxford-financed Privileged (1982), Grant dabbled in a variety of jobs: he wrote book reviews, worked as assistant groundsman at Fulham Football Club, tried his hand at tutoring, wrote comedy sketches for TV shows, and was hired by Talkback Productions to write and produce radio commercials for products such as Mighty White bread and Red Stripe lager. To obtain his Equity card, he joined the Nottingham Playhouse, a regional theatre, and lived for a year at Park Terrace in The Park Estate, Nottingham. Bored with small acting parts, he created his own comedy revue called The Jockeys of Norfolk with friends Chris Lang and Andy Taylor. The group toured London's pub comedy circuit with stops at The George IV in Chiswick, Canal Cafe Theatre in Little Venice and The King's Head in Islington. Starting on a low note, The Jockeys of Norfolk eventually proved a hit at the Edinburgh Festival after their sketch on the Nativity, told as an Ealing comedy, gained them a spot on the BBC2 TV show called Edinburgh Nights. During this time, Grant also appeared in theatre productions of plays such as An Inspector Calls, Lady Windermere's Fan, and Coriolanus.
Grant's first leading film role came in Merchant-Ivory's Edwardian drama, Maurice (1987), adapted from E. M. Forster's novel. He and co-star James Wilby shared the Volpi Cup for best actor at the Venice Film Festival for their portrayals of lovers 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 (1988), opposite Anthony Hopkins and Jean Simmons and a turn as Lord Byron in a Goya Award-winning Spanish production called Remando al viento (1988). He also portrayed some other real life figures during 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 (Neeson) 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 horror film, The Lair of the White Worm (1988), award-winning Merchant-Ivory drama The Remains of the Day (1993) and (as Frédéric Chopin in) Impromptu (1991) 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 (FWAAF). "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 Actor - 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's first studio-financed Hollywood project was 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.
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 Four Weddings and a Funeral. This new Working Title production displaced Four Weddings and a Funeral 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 has expressed boredom with playing the celebrity in the press and is known in popular media for his guarded privacy. On probing of his personal life, he has remained incredibly steadfast in "offering a dead bat to any question he feels is not general enough." Grant has described himself as a reluctant actor, has called being a successful actor a mistake and has repeatedly talked of his hope that film stardom would just be "a phase" in his life, lasting no more than ten years.
A 2007 Vogue profile of Grant referred to him as a man with a "professionally misanthropic mystique." Grant has expressed distaste for focus groups, market research, and emphasis on opening weekend box-office numbers, saying: "It's so destructive to the filmmaking process. What was wrong with the way they used to release films, more slowly, let them build?" The director Mike Newell has said: "There is at least as much of Hugh that is charismatic, intellectual, and whose tongue is maybe too clever for its own good as there is of him that's gorgeous and kind of woolly and flubsy." Filmmaker Paul Weitz, said that Grant is funny and that "he perceives flaws in himself and other people, and then he cares about their humanity nonetheless." British newspapers regularly refer to him as grumpy.
Grant is a self-confessed "committed and passionate" perfectionist on a film set. The American film critic Dave Kehr has written that Grant "is known in the film industry as a meticulous performer who takes his time to prepare a role -- someone who works hard to make it look easy -- though that isn't a trait he admires in himself." Grant is noted by co-workers for demanding endless takes until he achieves the desired shot according to his own standard.
In 1987, while playing Lord Byron in the Spanish production Remando Al Viento (1988), Grant met actress Elizabeth Hurley, who was cast in a supporting role as Byron's former lover Claire Clairmont. Grant began dating Hurley during filming and their relationship was subsequently the subject of much media attention. After 13 years together, they separated amicably in May 2000. He is godfather to her son Damian, born in 2002. Grant subsequently began dating heiress Jemima Khan under the intense scrutiny of British tabloids. Three years later, in February 2007, Grant and Khan separated amicably.
In September 2011, Grant had a daughter, Tabitha, with Tinglan Hong, a receptionist at a Chinese restaurant in London. His daughter's Chinese name is Xiao Xi, meaning "happy surprise". Grant and Hong had a "fleeting affair", according to his publicist, and they reportedly briefly reunited in 2012. Their son, Felix, was born in February 2013. Grant has said that Hong has been "badly treated" by the media; the press intrusion prevented him from attending the birth of his daughter, with Hong obtaining an injunction to allow him to visit them in peace.
Grant has a third child born in September 2012 with Swedish television producer Anna Elisabet Eberstein.