Four years ago, Hugh Grant told me that he preferred “playing golf in Scotland to acting,” and that he was planning to quit his craft and move into politics. But he didn’t keep his word, continuing to show up in movies nearly every year since then and even vying for accolades. This year, he has garnered a Golden Globe nomination for his role opposite Meryl Streep in Stephen Frears’ recent biopic of eponymous Florence Frances Jenkins.
He still claims though that acting is not his true calling; he just couldn’t resist the offer to work with the legendary Streep and the illustrious Frears. “And it had a complex adult role for me,” he told me in this TV interview I did recently for the BBC.
He plays a washed-up British actor, St. Clair Bayfield, who marries an eccentric millionaire, Jenkins, 20 years his senior, who dreams to be a singer.
“I certainly relate to his plight,” the 56-year-old actor remarks. “I meet quite a lot of people like him, who love acting but they never managed to find a career. It’s a sad position to be in, until he meets this woman, and she makes him her manager.”
Bayfield encourages Jenkins to pursue her dream, knowing that she lacked the talent of singing and attracted only mockery and derision from the audience when she performed in public. But Hugh insists that Bayfield was genuine in his concern for and support of her. “He initially marries her for her money, but later he falls in love with her,” The Four Wedding and Funeral star notes.
Like the rest of the roles Grant has played over the course of his career, this one is also comedic, but he explains that he prefers comedy mixed with drama. “I like both; there is comedy but there is a lot of sadness in this movie as well.”
Grant is still involved in the hacking scandal and campaigning to keep an eye on the British tabloid. “I thought it would be 5 days, but ended up taking 5 years. It’s like acting; I meant to do it for one year and ended up doing it for 35,” he chuckles. But politics has turned out to be more challenging than acting, where he just delivers the words and ideas of somebody else’s. This summer he struggled to make up his mind about the British exit from the European Union.
“I am cursed to see the logic in both sides of the argument,” he quips. But he eventually voted against Brexit. “I still sympathise with the Brexiters,” he chuckles.