The King of the Rom-Com is back to reclaim his crown as Hugh Grant stars in THE REWRITE, available on digital platforms from 2 February, 2015 and on Blu-ray and DVD from 9 February, 2015, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Here, we take a look at 10 of his best performances to date…
THE REWRITE (2014)
In THE REWRITE Grant plays washed-up, once successful screenwriter Keith Michaels, who finds himself divorced, broke, approaching 50 and without a film credit to his name in years. Keith resorts to teaching a screenwriting course at a university in the quiet town of Binghamton. Hoping to give minimal attention to his duties and focus on writing a new script, his attitude slowly begins to change when he meets Holly (Marisa Tomei), a single mum working two jobs to earn her degree with her own lessons to teach about second chances. With a heavyweight supporting cast that includes Allison Janney, JK Simmons and Bella Heathcote, THE REWRITE is Grant’s first rom-com in five years and arguably one of his best ever. The film also successfully re-teams Grant with director Marc Lawrence, who previously collaborated on Music and Lyrics, Two Weeks Notice and Did You Hear About the Morgans? ( read review here)
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Four Weddings and a Funeral was Hugh Grant’s breakthrough performance that established his reputation as The King of romantic comedies. The film was also Grant’s first of many collaborations with screenwriter Richard Curtis. In Four Weddings Grant plays Charles, the unlucky-in-love young bachelor who longs for the beautiful American Carrie (Andie MacDowell), whilst failing to notice the attention of his dear friend Fiona (Kristen Scott Thomas) right beneath his nose, who has loved him from the beginning. As well as romance and tragedy, comedy is assured by Charles’ endearing and witty group of friends, including James Fleet as Charles’ deaf brother, Tom, the booming Simon Callow (Gareth), John Hannah (Matthew) and Charlotte Coleman as the lovable and ditsy Scarlett.
Notting Hill (1999)
Grant followed suit in 1999 playing a similar role in Richard Curtis’ second blockbuster, Notting Hill. The similarly helpless and tragic bookshop-owner William Thacker falls for the infamous American film-star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts). Anna is charmed by William’s bumbling uselessness and falls for him, but is shamed by paparazzi when William’s idiotic flatmate Spike, played by the hilarious Rhys Ifans, tells the tabloids of their relationship. It is up to William’s friends, the brilliant supporting cast of Tim McInnery, Hugh Bonneville, Emma Chambers, Gina McKee and Dylan Moran, to convince him to chase after Anna and win her back. After all, she is just a girl… standing in front of a boy… asking him to love her…
Bridget Jones Diary (2001)
In 2001 Grant featured in Bridget Jones’ Diary, arguably the funniest film on this list, adapted from Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel of the same name, a reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The film stars Renee Zellweger who portrays the hilariously embarrassing and entertaining life of Bridget Jones. Grant plays Daniel Cleaver whose long-standing feud with Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy is reignited as the pair butt-heads to win Bridget’s heart. Whilst Mark Darcy is gentlemanly in every sense of the word, Cleaver is Bridget’s seedy boss who exchanges inappropriate emails with her at work. The pair’s feud comes to a thoroughly entertaining head at Bridget’s birthday party in a street brawl that spills over into a neighbouring restaurant.
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Grant’s first collaboration with Marc Lawrence came in 2002 in Two Weeks Notice. Harvard educated lawyer Lucy Kelson (Sandra Bullock) is driven to the edge by her needy and eccentric billionaire boss, George Wade (Grant). Lucy feels she can no longer tolerate being George’s primary confidante and advisor at all hours of the day and night, mostly about issues she considers frivolous, and decides to quit. However, in her two weeks of notice Lucy realises that she is jealous of her replacement and is in fact in love with George. Bullock steals the show as the brilliant but neurotic attorney Lucy, whilst Grant nails the charming, irresponsible and ridiculously self-absorbed boss.
Music and Lyrics (2007)
Grant joined forces with Marc Lawrence again five years later in Music and Lyrics. In the film, Grant plays washed-up 80’s pop-star Alex Fletcher from the band Pop, who is given one last shot at fame and a chance to re-launch his career on television contest ‘Battle of the ’80s Has-Beens’. All he needs to do is write a chart-topping hit for pop sensation Cora Corman by the end of the week. Whilst he struggles to put lyrics to his music he stumbles across Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), who temporarily waters his plants and proves to be a witty lyricist who could write the words to his song. Alex does all he can to convince Sophie to help him, whilst also helping her overcome her emotional problems, and inevitably they fall for each other in the song-writing process.
The Remains of the Day (1993)
Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were charged with portraying the strained and repressed relationship between English butler Stevens and housekeeper Miss Kenton in the Merchant Ivory adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Booker Prize winning novel The Remains of the Day. Hopkins received a BAFTA for Best Actor and the film was nominated in total for eight Oscars. In Remains, set in the interwar years, Stephens sacrifices his body and soul to serve his anti-Semitic aristocrat master Lord Darlington and suppresses all personal relations and romantic feelings towards Miss Kenton. Agonisingly, Stephens realises too late how misguided his loyalty has been and how he has wasted his life and love. Grant plays the naïve and youthful Reginald Cardinal, who is one of the few characters to criticise the passivity amongst the politicians that visit Darlington’s Hall and is wary of the sympathies expressed towards the Nazis at Lord Darlington’s conferences. A breakthrough role for Grant in an exceptionally moving drama about blind loyalty, wasted love and regret.
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Hugh Grant rejoined Emma Thompson in 1995 with a central role in the period drama Sense and Sensibility, an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel also starring Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet. Grant plays the wealthy Edward Ferrars who attracts the attention of Elinor (Thompson) one of the three Dashwood sisters who are left penniless following their father’s death and forced to take a step down in society. The Dashwood family’s lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne (Winslet); Edward’s family disapproves and separates him from Elinor whilst Marianne falls for the dashing and fiery John Willoughby (Greg Wise) over the rich and suitable Colonel Brandon (Rickman). Both relationships are put to the test.
About A Boy (2002)
Arguably one of Grant’s most amusing performances comes in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s About A Boy. Who could forget that rendition of ‘Killing Me Softly’, Nicolas Holt’s terrible hair-cut and that poor, poor duck… Grant plays Will Freeman, the well-dressed, 30-something bachelor who lives off his father’s royalties. He has absolutely zero responsibilities and his only concerns in life are women, good looks and women. Hilarity and public embarrassment ensue when he strikes up an unlikely friendship with extremely uncool 12-year-old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the loner who is bullied at school and lives at home with his suicidal mother (Toni Collette). The pair bond over Countdown, girlfriends and an infamous school rock concert in this heart-warming rom-com.
Love Actually (2003)
In Love Actually Richard Curtis boasts one of the best ensemble casts in British rom-com history, including Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Martin Freeman, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Grant plays the British Prime Minister who finds himself falling for his Downing Street tea-lady Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). The Prime Minister is forced to let Natalie go when he sees the President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton) seducing her during an international visit. He later uses this in an inspiring press conference speech as a metaphor for America bullying Britain and taking what they like from whomever they like. Grant’s character wins back Natalie on Christmas Eve, revealed kissing behind the curtain of a school nativity play.
The King of the Rom-Com is back to reclaim his crown as Hugh Grant stars in THE REWRITE, available on digital platforms now on Blu-ray and DVD from 9 February, 2015, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.