The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual roundtable conversations are known for getting some of the biggest A-listers and most exciting up-and-coming actors, directors and writers in the same room for interviews that are revealing, candid, and oftentimes surprising. For the magazine’s latest installment in the famous series, THR invited Billy Porter, Stephan James, Diego Luna, Richard Madden, Sam Rockwell and Hugh Grant to participate in the Drama Actor Roundtable. At least, we think that’s who the magazine featured. If we’re being honest, Hugh Grant was the star and the rest of us were there to just enjoy the 58-year-old actor performing a self-imposed roast.
From his memories of ‘making it’ following his breakthrough film Four Weddings And A Funeral to watching his own gay sex scene with his elderly father, Grant took every opportunity to poke fun at himself and Hollywood. But mostly himself.
Here are Hugh Grant’s six drollest, most self-deprecating zingers from The Hollywood Reporter’s Drama Actor Roundtable discussion.
1. ON GETTING TO KNOW HOLLYWOOD
Grant said that he hasn’t spent much time in Los Angeles, but recalled one of his early trips to Hollywood when American jargon led to a hilarious encounter with a hotel clerk. We gotta say, we could have made this mistake.
“I remember the first time I arrived here, pre-Four Weddings, I came out to see a girlfriend, and I checked into the hotel, and the man behind the counter said (puts on an American accent), “OK, and how are you going to take care of your room?” That’s an American expression, we don’t say that in England. So I said, “Well, as well as I possibly can. As tidy as I can.”
2. ON ROLES HE’S GLAD TO LEAVE BEHIND
When asked which roles he’s done playing, Grant revealed that his flowing locks and delicate features resulted in early typecasting.
“I’m so happy that I don’t have to play women’s parts anymore. The school I went to was all boys, and I was a pretty boy and I just played girls for 11 years. And quite well, I have to say. I was a very good Brigitta Von Trapp in my white dress with a blue satin sash. But it’s nice to be playing men again.”
Hm, we can’t see it (yes, we can).
3. ON WHAT IT TAKES TO STAR IN ROM COMS
Grant says that he has now passed the point in his life where he wants to be known for rom coms, but not because of artistic principles.
“Well, yes [he was “just the guy from romantic comedies”], but less now because I’ve gotten too old and ugly and fat to do them anymore, so now I’ve done other things and I’ve got marginally less self-hatred.”
4. ON TAKING ‘BAD’ ROLES
During his years as a struggling actor, Grant admitted that he took any role that was offered to him, saying, “The worse it was, the quicker I took it.” Revealing that he knew when movies were bad, Grant recalled his time on the set of 1988’s Rowing With The Wind, a set that was marred by language barriers.
“You think, ‘Oh, well, this is nonsense, this film, it’s being made in Spain with English actors, with a director who doesn’t speak English and German money, it’s never going to see the light of day, so just go and have a nice time for three months, flirt with the actress playing Claire Claremont.’”
Narrator: and that actress turned out to be Grant’s girlfriend for the next 13 years, Elizabeth Hurley.
5. ON HIS HESITATION TO DO TV
As more movie stars continue to make the leap to TV, Grant reveals what made him say no to the small screen for so long in his brutal and hilariously honest answer.
“Well it wasn’t really a hesitation; it was just pure snobbery.”
6. ON WATCHING HIS SEX SCENE FROM ‘A VERY BRITISH SCANDAL’ WITH HIS FATHER
Sex scenes are never easy for an actor to watch with their parents and that’s still the case for Grant at age 58. The actor remembered watching A Very British Scandal with his elderly father, who we think did an admirable job of handling his naked son on screen.
“Oh yes, ex-military father, who I have dinner with on Sunday nights. To my horror, I went around when the show was just coming out on the BBC and he said, ‘Now wait a minute, isn’t your [gay] film on TV tonight? Let’s watch it.’ And I said, ‘No, no, it’s not up your alley, you wouldn’t like it, really.’ And he said, ‘No, nonsense, I’ve got a television upstairs, if you show me how to work it, we’ll watch it together.’ So I then had to sit there with my old dad and watch this [scene] where I bring Vaseline into the room and spread it on Ben Whishaw. And it was at that point that my father said, ‘Well, I think I might go to bed now.’”
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“No one wants to be the good guy.” Hugh Grant, Richard Madden, Billy Porter, Stephan James, Diego Luna and Sam Rockwell open up about why they’d rather play the villain, the upside of failure and being put in a box in the drama actor roundtable. Link in bio. Photo: @austinhargrave