From the mid-‘90s to the mid-aughts, Hugh Grant was the unofficial king of the rom-com. But after a string of huge box office hits, including “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Love Actually,” the British star abruptly stepped down from his leading-man throne.
According to the actor and father of five, it started with him falling out of love with his on-screen work — and then Tinseltown fell out of love with him.
“I developed a bad attitude from about 2005 onwards, shortly after ‘Music and Lyrics,’” he told the Los Angeles Times of the film in which he played a washed-up singer alongside budding songwriter Drew Barrymore. “I just had enough.”
Despite that “bad attitude,” he decided to tackle yet another rom-com in 2009, starring opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” However, unlike his previous efforts in the genre, that one proved to be a flop.
“At that point, it wasn’t me giving up Hollywood,” the 60-year-old noted. “Hollywood gave me up because I made such a massive turkey with that film with Sarah Jessica Parker. Whether I wanted to or not after that, the days of being a very well-paid leading man were suddenly gone overnight.”
So the veteran actor, who’d been working in film and television since he was just 22, found himself without work in the genre he was best known for, and he discovered that wasn’t too bad.
“It was slightly embarrassing but it left life free for other things,” Grant explained. “That’s when I started getting very political and had a fascinating few years as a rabid campaigner for reform of press regulations.”
It also freed him up to pursue other acting gigs, ones that don’t involve meet-cutes and comical flirtations, because, as he put it dryly in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year, "I've gotten too old and ugly and fat to do (rom-coms) anymore, so now I've done other things.”
Like his recent murderous miniseries with Nicole Kidman, HBO’s “The Undoing,” which couldn’t be further from a rom-com plot.
“There’s not a huge number of laughs in ‘The Undoing,’” Grant told The Times. "But I’m not sure that was why I did it. I did it because it was a very classy project and it was a script that made me turn the pages, which is very rare because normally I’m asleep by page six of most scripts I read.”
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