Romantic comedies made Hugh Grant one of the most famous men in the world, but he has a few doubts about their premise.
“The big question is whether the whole idea of a man and a woman belonging together — and this being something we are all desperate for — is true, or a big fat lie,” Grant told reporters in Paris, where he was promoting his new film, fantasy blockbuster “Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Amongst Thieves”.
“And I have a feeling it might be a big fat lie — despite having made a whole career and fortune out of it.
“I mean, how many really happy relationships do you know? There’s not many,” he continued. “All those romantic comedies I made — it would be very interesting to have the sequel now, which would presumably start with the divorce lawyers.”
As usual, there was a large dollop of mischief in Grant’s comments.
But in a separate interview with AFP, the 62-year-old struck a more serious tone when asked if he had been ambitious during his earlier years.
“I wish I had been more ambitious. I wish I’d had sharper elbows,” he said, suddenly dropping his usual tongue-in-cheek delivery.
“Honestly, I think I’ve been too lackadaisical. I could have tried much harder when I was very bankable and popular in Hollywood,” he told AFP.
“I could have made any film I wanted… but really I just wanted to watch the football.”
– ‘Too old and ugly’ –
The self-doubt is nothing new — Grant has been somewhat ambivalent about his fame ever since “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Notting Hill” made him the world’s favourite bumbling Brit in the 1990s.
It at least partly explains his disastrously awkward interview at the Oscars this month, when he was unable to muster the fake excitement expected of stars on the red carpet.
But lately, he seems re-energised by more villainous and more satisfying roles, playing the bad guy in “Paddington 2”, HBO’s “The Undoing”, and now as a power-hungry criminal in “Dungeons and Dragons”.
“Slimy villains do suit me rather well,” he said with a chuckle.
“I have enjoyed myself a bit for the first time in the last six or seven years since I got too old and ugly to be the hero.
“Actually it’s how I began — doing characters and silly voices. And suddenly I got side-tracked into being a leading man, and I never thought I was particularly well-suited to that.
“It’s really difficult being the lead guy, the hero,” he added. “Well-paid, but hard.”
– ‘Maintain some mystery’ –
Not that he ever made a conscious decision to switch to bad guys: “These things just plop on to my doorstep,” he said.
Does he have any advice for stars who are breaking out today?
“Fame has changed so dramatically since it happened to me, due to social media,” he told AFP, before pausing to reflect.
“I always fantasised about being in the mould of those mysterious film stars of the 30s and 40s where you never got to know who the real person was, and you and the studio were allowed to lie about you as much as they liked.
“I’d go for that — try to maintain some mystery, don’t have an Instagram account.
“But that’s my advice to almost everyone in the world.” (AFP)