Hugh Grant is without doubt one of the most charming celebrities that has conquered hearts and fame thanks to his talent. Now that he has turned 56 the goals and priorities have changed and a new perspective presents itself.
Although some things remain the same. The famous English actor is still uncomfortable with the media. Grant, a movie star since "Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1992), is indeed back at work. He's now playing something akin to his younger self, an aspiring actor from England who's married to an older woman famous for being an enthusiastic patron of the arts as well as a terrible opera singer in "Florence Foster Jenkins" - the real life character played by Meryl Streep. He has also recently stared in the third long-awaited chapter of "The Bridget Jones Diaries".
Is Grant back at work?
"About time, isn't?" he says charmingly – “I now have a numerous family to provide for: daddy has got to work!"
Why where you away from the screens for such a long time, despite the fact that you're so talented, admired and sought after?
I'm not sure about the talent, but thank you. As always I'm terribly insecure; my whole career I always feared my last film could be, that is, the last film! I was always the black sheep in the family: my older brother for example is a broker, a finance expert, makes a lot of money with... money, and I was the usual dumb Hugh, talented, cute and all but so lazy and a total idiot in regard to money and a social status. Well, things have changed indeed! [laughs]
So, after your huge success you almost retired…?
Not true, I never retired. I slowed down a bit, said no to offers many times, sure. But see, years ago a discovered politics and some form of engagement in the public discourse. It's not just that I'd rather do nothing.
I'm very much interested in the relation between media and individual, media and power, and the overpowering force of the fourth estate in England.
You're still mad at the British media?
Margaret Thatcher used to say: "I can't win an election and survive politically without bending over to the power of the press." Well, look what's happening now: the "leave" Brexit campaign has been a media maniac affair. Media is an occult power in our so called civilized, enlightened society.
What's your take on the Brexit vote?
I think that in the end everything will be modified and calmed down. It's a moment of craziness destined to wise up. I know for a fact that the British artistic community voted for "remain" almost unanimously, at least according to my ex, and actually best friend, Elizabeth [Hurley]. She's very informed, she knows everything about the world, and I consult with her and relay what she says! [laughs]
Can you tell us about your lawsuit in favor of individual right to privacy in U.K.?
I appealed to the U.K. Supreme Court and to the Press Complaints Commission, in the effort to curb threats to our human rights, as guaranteed by the Protection from Harassment Act. I meant to speak on behalf of everybody, not just by me or other privileged celebrity. I speak on behalf of everybody, famous or not famous. I'm convinced privacy is sacred, as human and civil rights.
Is acting more difficult than politics?
Politics is stressful, it's scary, tiresome. Acting is like a breath of fresh air. They're both fictional kind of creativity: politicians are bad actors.
Are you now ready to be an actor one more time full time?
Oh yes. I'm a father of four, I've a fiancée, various exes, and have to provide to everybody. I've got to work! Yet I confess that acting today is like a vacation. I try not to complicate things. I learn my lines, show up on the set on time, hit the marks, and go home to change diapers.
You had four children relatively late in your life: did they change your point of view?
Totally. I used to say about my friends or siblings' children: "I love children, as long as I can kiss them goodnight and return them to their legitimate owners", the parents, that is. Here I am now. I was a nice person then, I'm even nicer now! [laughs]
Do you have any regrets?
All the time. I have so many regrets I wouldn't know where to start. I wish I was more creative, more pro-active, and mainly I should've written more roles for myself. And yet I always found fantastic excuses not to do it. I'm a great excuser... will always be.