Hugh John Mungo Grant (born 9 September 1960) is an English actor best known for his long association with writer Richard Curtis in a string of wildly successful Rom Coms, including Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually. His standard role in these films was as a bumbling but well-meaning quintessentially British Upper-Class Twit, who had to overcome his British Stuffiness and repression to win the heart of a (usually American) female love interest. In the late 1990s, he began taking roles that had him actively Playing Against Type, often as a jaded English cad, such as Daniel Cleaver (an Expy of Pride and Prejudice's George Wickham) in Bridget Jones' Diary, and About a Boy, while occasionally blending the two types together (such as in Music and Lyrics). In another big instance of Playing Against Type, he played (among other characters) a slave-trading reverend, a Jerkass and vindictive husband who sends his brother in a retirement home against his will, and the chief of a Cannibal Tribe in Cloud Atlas. He also did Did You Hear About the Morgans?.
Recently, Grant's acting career has gone on the back burner due to his involvement in the campaign for tighter restrictions on the British media (including giving evidence for the Leveson Inquiry). This, however, hasn't prevented him from appearing in a few recent films, such as the polarizing 2012 film Cloud Atlas, Alexander Waverley in the film remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) (which was not exactly well received), as well as in the 2014 rom-com The Rewrite (which while not being groundbreaking, speaks well for his performance). Better-received both financially and critically would be his turn as the well-meaning St Clair Bayfield in Florence Foster Jenkins (in a critically-appreciated combo performance with Meryl Streep, which they've clearly mutually enjoyed), as well as his memorable turn as Large Ham Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2 and critically-acclaimed portrayal of Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal.
Tropes associated with his work:
- Adam Westing: In Paddington 2, he plays a washed-up actor whose Glory Days are long behind him.
- Awesome, Dear Boy: He considered himself retired from films in The New '10s, but he did Florence Foster Jenkins just to work with Meryl Streep.
- Career Resurrection: Both Florence Foster Jenkins and Paddington 2 helped bring him back into the limelight after a career downturn in the 2010s.
- Casting Gag: He plays Emma Thompson's love interest in Sense and Sensibility, and her brother in Love Actually.
- Creator Backlash:
- Doing It for the Art: He learned sign language for scenes with David Bower (who is deaf) in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
- Fake American: In the Made-for-TV Movie Our Sons and Cloud Atlas.
- Hostility on the Set: Mildly between him and Julia Roberts while making Notting Hill (he famously complained about having to kiss her because of her "large mouth"). She has since forgiven him and said she'd be willing to work with him again.
- No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: His arrest right before the release of Nine Months seems to have helped the movie's Box Office, despite the dreadful critical reviews.
- Old Shame: He's referred to Nine Months as a mistake.
- Playing Against Type:
- Bridget Jones as the Handsome Lech Daniel Cleaver. He's joked that it's the role closest to his own personality.
- About a Boy he plays a disaffected and unsympathetic loner who pretends to be a single father to pick up girls.
- Cloud Atlas is quite different too from his romcom fare, playing multiple roles across the years in a sci-fi epic.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Mike Newell admitted to thinking Hugh was completely wrong for Four Weddings and a Funeral because he was "too handsome" (the haircut he was given was an attempt to make him look less attractive). The Jane Austen Society likewise complained that he was too good looking to play Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility.
- Star-Making Role: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bitter Moon and Sirens all came out around the same time, and turned him into a star in America.
- Throw It In!: About a Boy has a shot where Will is reflected in the mirror looking depressed. This was between takes where Hugh happened to be looking a little tired - so they got the shot without him knowing.
- Typecasting: In romantic comedies as the bumbling British gentleman who usually finds love with an American girl.
- Unbuilt Casting Type: Before his typecasting as that charmingly desirable English gentleman wooing an American love interest, he starred in Sirens. There he plays a well-meaning but poor husband whose marriage lacks passion because of his idolization of his repressed wife. He in fact has to learn how to put passion back into their marriage.