Hugh Grant became a household name largely thanks to roles in romantic comedies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill. While those roles helped propel him into a long-lasting career as an actor, they also led to some criticisms that were a bit hard for him to bear. The actor recently acknowledged that one piece of feedback, in particular, made him especially frustrated.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Hugh Grant starred in several hugely popular films by writer-director Richard Curtis. In each, he played a romantic lead that was often bumbling-but-charming. One example of this is his character in Love Actually -- a young and overwhelmed Prime Minister who falls for a member of his staff.
While those films marked a breakthrough for him in terms of visibility, they also lead to a feeling for some that he was being typecast. The LA Times recently noted that many cinephiles came away from his performances in those films thinking that he was playing a variation of himself. That opinion, Hugh Grant said, never sat well with him:
That always made me grind my teeth a bit. Because that character in the Richard Curtis films was a bit repetitious. But it wasn’t me. It’s really kind of Richard.
Hugh Grant told The LA Times that despite the repetitive nature of some of the roles he played, he worked hard to try to bring the method of character acting into the romantic comedy genre:
I did try. Whatever it might be, Four Weddings and a Funeral or Two Weeks Notice, my process was always the same as it is now. I do a ridiculous amount of homework and granular analysis of every moment in the film. I build up these vast biographies of the character. Hiding behind the mask of someone else seems to loosen me up and make me better. And in the end, one thing I have discovered over the years is all you really want in film acting is to be loose.
At some point, he admitted, he grew tired of doing romantic comedies. In the last few years, his career has taken a different turn as he’s branched out into different genres. He took on the role of the villain in the beloved Paddington 2, ensuring that future generations will know him not as the fumbling bachelor but as a menacing antagonist.
Now, he’s starring in a much more dramatic role in HBO’s miniseries The Undoing, in which he plays an apparent murderer. It's definitely a far cry from his days as a romantic leading man -- but a challenge he seems more than happy to take on.
Do you think Hugh Grant got typecast early in his career? What is your favorite movie he’s done so far? Let us know in the comments!