The Tangled Life Of Hugh Grant

The following article includes brief references to alleged homophobia.

In the '90s, Hugh Grant charmed his way into the hearts of America via his quintessential English gent roles. Starring in films such as "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones's Diary," his onscreen persona was aptly described by "Family Guy" as one of being "so charmingly befuddled." Grant's appeal seemingly lay in replicating the aristocratic archetype of an England that existed only in the past, and in the minds of writers such as E.M. Forster (Grant himself appeared in the screen adaptation of "Maurice"). It appears this shtick eventually wore thin, however.

Whereas British actors have now become ubiquitous in Hollywood, dashing Brits were sparse in Grant's heyday, illustrating the timely and ephemeral nature of his appeal. While he arguably paved the way for the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston, both of whom, incidentally, have names that sound like characters Grant would have played back in the day, the actor's own stardom has since waned. Truth be told, some critics feel his work has become something of a self-parody in recent years, from his pantomime-esque villain in "The Undoing" to his stint as, well, an actual panto villain in "Paddington 2."

In many ways, however, Grant's decline in popularity has been welcome, as he's no longer reduced to a one-dimensional, self-deprecating Brit stereotype on and off camera. Subsequently, this shift in public opinion has opened up a slew of new career challenges for the acting vet, who has played everyone from a murderous politician to a dodgy cockney to varying degrees of success. Let's explore the tangled (and oh-so-befuddled) life of Hugh Grant.

Hugh Grant cheated on Elizabeth Hurley

In one of the most infamous scandals of the '90s, Hugh Grant cheated on his long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Hurley, with sex worker Divine Brown in 1995. Unfortunately for all involved, this late-night rendezvous ended up becoming front page tabloid fodder after cops caught Grant in his car with his pants down. "He sounded a bit like Prince Charles but tried to cover up his accent," Brown later told the Daily Mail of her first impressions of the thespian. In the throes of passion, Grant reportedly kept tapping his foot on the car brake, leading to the police finding the pair. Subsequently, the actor was arrested and fined $1,800, while Brown faced far harsher repercussions and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

Although the tryst was treated as a joke in the media, its effect on Hurley was no laughing matter. When the "Bedazzled" star found out about her beau's infidelity, she was distraught. "For many years I have turned to Hugh for help during difficult times and so now ... I am very much alone," Hurley told the British Press Association (via CNN). "This is all very painful for me." 

In a now legendary appearance on "The Tonight Show," Grant profusely apologized for his actions. "I did a bad thing," he told Jay Leno, praising Hurley for supporting him throughout the ordeal. The couple stayed together for five more years before calling it quits in 2000, illustrating Grant's ability to bounce back from even the harshest public and personal censure.

The Notting Hill actor shaded co-star Julia Roberts

For many fans, Hugh Grant will always be William Thacker, the skittish bookstore owner in "Notting Hill." In the iconic flick, which put the gentrified West London area on the map, Grant's heart is stolen by Hollywood actor Anna Scott, played with gleeful charm by Julia Roberts. Although their on-screen rapport seemed sincere and wholesome, Grant went on to shade his co-star.

In an E! News interview at the time of the film's release, he admitted to being intimidated by his superstar colleague. "I was entirely terrified of her," he said, "still am to a certain extent, but strangely enough after a day or two of rehearsal, I realized that we would click in some way." Although he said that he ultimately came to admire Roberts — bar the odd fruit fight — he changed his tune just a few years later.

Appearing on "Oprah" (via Digital Spy) in 2004, Grant recalled having to kiss Roberts for the role. "Very big-mouthed!" he said of his first impressions. "Literally, physically, she has a very big mouth. When I was kissing her I was aware of a faint echo." That's certainly not a statement we expected from the well-bred Brit. "She's one of the nicest people I ever met," Oprah interjected, to which Grant replied, "I wouldn't go that far." Yikes.

Is Hugh Grant prone to on-set tantrums?

Many A-listers are known for acting like total prima donnas on set. Few can forget, for instance, Christian Bale's infamous expletive-laden rant on the set of "Terminator Salvation" in 2009 (the words "good for you" will never quite be the same after that). Although Hugh Grant is able to poke fun at himself at the best of times, he also isn't immune to occasionally engaging in some unpleasant diva-like behavior. By his own admission, he has been guilty of exacting a Christian Bale moment of his own.

In a 2023 interview with Total Film (via Yahoo! Entertainment), Grant confessed to behaving in a manner not quite befitting an English gent when making "Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves." "I lost my temper with a woman in my eyeline on day one," he admitted. "I assumed she was some executive from the studio who should have known better. Then it turns out that she's an extremely nice local woman who was the chaperone of the young girl. Terrible. ... I did a Christian Bale." 

Although he stated that he apologized repeatedly to the woman in question, we can't help but wonder if said tantrum would have been acceptable if Grant had indeed been chatting to an exec. With more and more stories coming out about on-set bullying, the idea of a powerful man like Grant yelling at a woman undoubtedly leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.

Hugh Grant's messy baby mama drama

At 51, Hugh Grant became a father for the very first time in 2011. No one was more surprised than Grant himself, who was having a casual affair with Tinglan Hong, nearly 20 years his junior. "While this was not planned, Hugh could not be happier or more supportive," a spokesperson told The Times. After that, he seemingly became intent on putting "making babies" on his résumé, welcoming four more children. 

A year after his first child was born, he impregnated Anna Eberstein, who gave birth to Grant's second child and first son in 2012. Things just got messier from that point onwards, with Grant having another baby with Hong just two months later, resulting in a conception mystery that the likes of Sherlock would have trouble solving. Grant reportedly bought both his baby mamas multimillion-dollar homes around the time of their respective pregnancies.

Confused yet? Well, in 2015, he had yet another baby with Eberstein, then one more three years later. Phew. We're starting to think Grant must feel as befuddled as his aforementioned "Family Guy" parody. He ended up marrying Eberstein in 2018, but this, too, proved controversial when he was accused of getting married for passport reasons. Replying to a claim made on this very site, Grant tweeted, "No I didn't, @Internet. I married her because I love her." But far from fake news, Grant himself had told USA Today that this was why he wed Eberstein, though he also noted, "But when you've got three children, it's a nice thing to do."

The actor drew the ire of the press

Hugh Grant was relentlessly targeted by the British press. Subsequently, he was revealed as a key victim of the News of the World phone hacking scandal of 2011. That year, the actor wrote a piece for the New Statesman, in which he detailed his horror at discovering that his phone was being tapped by journalists. He recalled bumping into News of the World whistleblower Paul McMullan entirely by chance, striking up a faux friendship with him in order to gain his trust enough that he might spill the tea on what really went down at the now-disgraced newspaper.

Recorded by Grant without his knowledge, McMullan ended up implicating numerous high-profile individuals in phone hacking, including then-British Prime Minister David Cameron, whom he alleged was close pals with the paper's editor, Rebekah Brooks. He also claimed the police were accepting bribes in exchange for releasing sensitive material. McMullan reasoned that, due to the A-lister's immense wealth, it was acceptable to hack Grant's phone, to which the actor then questioned why it was justifiable for the paper to have hacked the phone of murder victims, such as 13-year-old Milly Dowler.

The News of the World went defunct amid the scandal. Thereafter, however, Grant's relationship with the press grew increasingly sour. He was also heavily criticized for his assertion that he helped save the press from police spying, with The Guardian pointing out that it was in fact the collective work of editors that enabled such legislation.

Hugh Grant attacked the paps

Years before the phone hacking scandal, Hugh Grant exhibited an admittedly foul temper when dealing with the media. And on some occasions, this anger allegedly turned violent. In 2007, Grant was arrested after attacking paparazzo Ian Whittaker with tupperware containing baked beans. "I said 'Give us a smile please' and he looked really angry. ... He kicked me hard three or four times then kneed me in the groin," Whittaker claimed, per Evening Standard.

During an appearance on "Chatty Man," Grant, who was charged with assault, gave his own recollection of events. "[I] twice lost my temper very badly — and twice got arrested," he said. "And not even in a very cool way because, of course, one time I attacked one and his friend was lurking around the corner and got pictures." He reasoned that he didn't punch the pap in a particularly vicious manner, likening it to his fight with Colin Firth in "Bridget Jones's Diary." Thereafter, he was confronted by the photographer's pal: "I was feeling very manly and I said, 'You want some?' And to my horror he said, 'Yeah, I do!'" Accordingly, Grant used the tub of baked beans as a weapon.

The pap attacks didn't stop there. In 2009, he reportedly kicked a photographer in the groin while in New York City, per TMZ. Then, in 2019, Grant generated controversy when he was reportedly filmed grabbing a woman's phone in Rome, erroneously believing that she was a photographer. It turned out that the woman was actually head of Rome's municipal waste company.

The actor trolled the UK government

Ever since he discovered that the UK's Conservative government may have been complicit in phone hacking, Hugh Grant has rallied against the establishment. He may have played a bumbling prime minister in "Love Actually," but he wasn't too pleased when one Boris Johnson went on to lead the country. Back in 2019, he furiously slammed Johnson on Twitter, declaring, "F*** off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and your little gang of masturbatory prefects."

After myriad controversies, from breaching the coronavirus lockdown rules that he implemented to making light of alleged sexual assaults, Johnson was finally ousted from Number 10 in 2022. This was welcome news for Grant, who gleefully celebrated the PM's downfall. Accordingly, he concocted a shady (and thoroughly British) plan to troll the press following Johnson's resignation.

Asking a favor from anti-Tory activist Steve Bray, he tweeted, "Morning @snb19692 Glad you have your speakers back. Do you by any chance have the Benny Hill music to hand?" Often parodied, "The Benny Hill Show" theme, "Yakety Sax," is a comical tune that was accompanied by absurdist events when featured on the slapstick comedy series. Bray, who had previously played a parody song entitled "Bye, Bye Boris" during Johnson's resignation speech, obliged and blasted the theme outside Parliament. "Just for @HackedOffHugh as requested here today at the media circus... The Benny Hill theme tune," Bray proudly wrote. Subsequently, the song played during news reports covering Johnson's resignation.

Hugh Grant keeps getting into feuds with other stars

Hugh Grant has been known to feud with his co-stars from time to time. According to The Guardian, Robert Downey Jr. couldn't stand Grant when the pair made the film "Restoration" in 1995, reportedly calling the "Four Weddings and a Funeral" star "a jerk ... an a**hole ... a self-important, boring flash-in-the-pan Brit." Speaking with People in 2018, Grant admitted that he did indeed have a feud with Downey, but suggested that it was entirely one-sided. "He hated me," Grant said. "He took one look at me and wanted to kill me."

Following the latter interview, Downey took to Twitter to publicly address the contretemps with Grant. "A lot has happened over two decades!" he wrote. "I respect how Mr. Grant has matured as an artist & voice against violations of privacy. Let's break bread together soon @HackedOffHugh!"

The "Iron Man" star wasn't the only person who disliked Grant, however. In 2012, Jon Stewart appeared at a fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival (via Third Beat) and slammed the actor as the worst guest he had ever welcomed onto "The Daily Show." Stewart claimed that Grant was rude and entitled, and objected to a clip that was played from his movie "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" "He's giving everyone s*** the whole time, and he's a big pain in the a**," Stewart said. On Twitter, Grant acknowledged that he behaved like a jerk to Stewart, apologized, and conceded that the former "Daily Show" host was right to call him out.

He faced backlash over alleged homophobia

Having played LGBTQ+ characters on both the big and small screens, homophobia isn't quite what we expect from Hugh Grant. But the actor has made some remarks that many considered to be homophobic.

In 2011, rugby fan Hugh was interviewed during England's game against Scotland for the Six Nations Championship. "I discovered it hurt less if you tackled hard than if you tackled like a queen," he said in reference to his boyhood rugby games, per Metro. The star was swiftly called out. "England scrapes a win. Hugh Grant throws in a casual bit of homophobia," tweeted one viewer. The BBC, who aired the interview, subsequently apologized. Cosmopolitan argued that remarks like those made by Grant contribute to the widespread homophobia in British sport and, in turn, the reluctance of LGBTQ+ athletes to come out. Notably, over a decade since Grant's interview, only two English Premiership Rugby players have come out as LGBTQ+: Jack Dunne and Nick McCarthy.

The following year, Grant again made jibes that were perceived as homophobic. In an interview with CBS News to promote "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" he lamented that he did not look as sexy as he had anticipated when donning cowboy attire for the role. "I've seen the film and I look ridiculous. I look like some old lesbian," he said. Blogger Hot Femme in the City criticized the actor for rehashing outmoded stereotypes that gay women have long been subjected to.

At the Oscars, Hugh Grant was not so enthusiastic

During Oscars red carpet interviews, Hollywood's elite know the drill: gush platitudes, express astonishment and awe, and don't forget to name-drop the designer you're donning. Despite having attended awards ceremonies over the past four decades, Hugh Grant behaved in a manner unexpected from a star of his standing at the 2023 Academy Awards.

In an interview with supermodel Ashley Graham, he gave bizarre, curt responses. When Graham asked Grant who he was rooting for, he simply said, "No one in particular." Asked what he was wearing, he replied, "Just my suit." Graham probed a little further, asking who made said suit. "My tailor," he quipped. Preserving her composure and professionalism, she continued with the routine line of questioning, praising the vet's role in "Glass Onion." But Grant was not biting, and reminded Graham that he was barely in the film. "But still ... you had fun, right?" she enthused, to which Grant shrugged, "Er, almost."

On Twitter, users either came to Grant's defense or slammed the actor for his seemingly rude and entitled behavior. Podcaster Jamie B. Golden suggested that Graham herself deserved an Oscar for having to deal with Grant. "Don't walk the carpet if you don't walk to talk about THE ACTUAL OSCARS," Golden wrote. Meanwhile, TV host Trevor Scott tweeted, "Why agree to an interview if you have no interest in participating??" Chatting to TMZ, Graham addressed the controversy in typically charming style, quipping, "You know what? My mama told me to kill people with kindness, so there you go."