Hugh Grant delivers a masterclass in awkward at the Oscars
He’s best known for playing bumbling, floppy-haired, chino-wearing upper class underdogs – book shop owners in coffee stained shirts who A-list actresses inexplicably fall in love with or romantically-challenged semi-professional wedding guests.
But last night, Hugh Grant couldn’t have been further from the chaotically charming Englishman he so often embodies on screen.
He gave nothing but eye rolls and snippy two-word answers during in an interview with supermodel Ashley Graham at the Oscars – on a presumably now very grubby gold carpet.
Grant, 62, has in the past admitted his “bad attitude” lead to roles drying up – and his interaction with Graham was the perfect illustration.
Graham, 34, began their conversation by asking: “What was it like to be in Glass Onion? How fun is it to shoot something like that?”
But her enthusiasm was shot down as Grant snapped “’Well I’m barely in it, I was in it for about three seconds.”
Graham soldiered on despite Grant wearing his discomfort was all over his face – his jaw was tense and he repeatedly looked ‘off camera’ as if for help. At one point Graham asked: ‘What are you wearing?’ to which Grant responded: “My suit”.
Twitter is fuming – there is a general feeling that Grant delivered a low blow with some Tweeters even saying it rivalled the infamous moment from last year’s awards which saw Will Smith smacked Chris Rock on stage. However, other users pointed out that Grant was clearly responding to questions he found vapid with one user writing: “hugh grant (sic) wants no part of this dumb s**t”.
At one point Grant referenced Vanity Fair, the 1848 novel by William Makepeace Thackeray which satirises the lives of high society but Graham appeared to miss the point and instead thought Grant was talking about a glossy magazine party.
Poor Graham was obviously agog at his responses but managed to hold her tongue when in all likelihood every fibre of her being wanted to ask him why he was insisting on answering in grunts like a teenager being hauled away from a seven-hour YouTube binge to be grilled on what subjects they are taking next year by a much-hated family friend.
It is impossible to know what Grant was thinking but surely he knew that by being difficult and ungenerous to Graham – who was doing a brilliant job despite not being a professionally-trained interviewer – made him look like a chump, not her.
And he really did appear every inch the arrogant bore most A-listers are at pains to prove they are not.
It is important to point out – as commentators such as David Baddiel have – that Grant’s behaviour was however demonstrating authenticity (something Hollywood is often accused of having in short supply). He knew he was on camera and he happily went ahead and did his very worst. There is something to respect in that.
However, if he finds the Oscars and showbiz and step-and-repeats and vivacious models with enormous smiles breathlessly asking if he is having fun and hysteria about clothes and parties all a little hollow, why bother going? It’s not like after, what, 40-odd years in the industry this sort of gushing, glossy set up is a surprise.
He chose to be at the Oscars. He put on his suit by his nameless tailor and he walked the golden carpet and he picked up his microphone and he agreed to talk to Graham who was there in a professional capacity to draw excitement out of her interviewees and provide some uplifting behind-the-scenes texture to the evening.
He was being deliberately obtuse giving major ‘this is beneath me’ energy. Maybe it is, but the solution in future might be for him to stay at home, away from all the cameras and bubbleheads and ‘dumb s**t’ he so clearly has no time for, reading Vanity Fair in peace.