Not many actors in the world can carry such nonchalant charm as Hugh Grant. The legendary British actor has proved time and again, that he is one of the smoothest, effortless actors around. And don’t get me started on that flawless British accent. The naturally flirtatious and uncontrollably irresistible mannerism has earned him a firm place in the Hall of Fame of English cinema. Although he was known for these sort of roles during his earlier years, he hasn’t shed his typecasting past but has matured into a very versatile actor. And age too hasn’t been able to slow him down as he turns 58 this year.
Here’s revisiting the best performances of Hugh Grant:
10. Florence Forster Jenkins (2016)
Director: Stephen Frears
Meryl Streep was the star of the show for this one. It had Hugh Grant in a supporting role. And support he did. He completely justified his role as the benefactor of the delusional singer. There was a certain mix of treachery and love in his portrayal. On one hand, he is mingling with other mistresses on a daily basis. He has no inhibitions. His cheating habits seem to be completely normal for him. The way he schemes his way into the rich life is extraordinary.
But then again, when he calls Meryl “bunny rabbit,” you will find a certain love and sincerity in it. He is not completely devoid of affection. He truly cares for her and doesn’t just tag along for the ride. His acting brings out both the sides of the character. He is able to bring alive the real-life character. That is not an easy task to handle as it requires him to completely immerse into the role. And Grant did it marvellously.
9. Cloud Atlas (2012)
Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Cloud Atlas was one of the most bizarre and ambitious projects of 2012. It was a three-hour-long metaphysical hotchpotch. The movie presents us with different time periods and many different locations around the world. It explores concepts of rebirth and afterlife. Apart from that, it also provides quite a lot of social and philosophical commentary. Hugh Grant appears in this movie quite unexpectedly. He plays the role of a war-painted cannibal warrior. Now that is definitely not even close to his role in Four Weddings and A Funeral. And he executes it with a good amount of pizzazz. This role stands as a testament to his versatility. Apart from playing this amazingly unconventional role, he also played five other roles, ably mastering all six of them.
8. Music and Lyrics (2007)
Director: Marc Lawrence
Music and Lyrics sees Hugh Grant returning to his tried and tested formula of the clumsy charmer with a wit that touches the skies. The awesome portrayal of the washed-up musician suits the actor like peanut butter and chocolate. It is a combination that was destined by fate. His chemistry with Drew Barrymore is off the charts. When you see him on-screen, you positively want to root for him. He makes you remember all those forgotten musicians and artists that were once on the top of the world. They now lie dormant and forgotten.
The way he makes us sympathize with the character is quite unique. He never tries to invoke our sympathy though tragic acting. He always tries to smile even at the toughest of adversities. And this never-give-up attitude is what brings us closer to the character. The approach Grant adopted with the character is amazing and quite frankly, brilliant.
7. The Remains of The Day (1993)
Director: James Ivory
The movie dwells in a pre-war scenario as it narrates the tale of two servants caught in the dilemma of loyalty and justice. Without divulging much information about the plot, I shall move on to Grant’s small but memorable performance. He plays the role of a journalist who happens to be the godson of the lord of the manor. The lord is also a Nazi-sympathizing aristocrat. The few minutes that he is on screen become the most memorable part of the film. He, along with Hopkins do nothing but deliver a few dialogues. But that presentation is quite powerful in itself.
The way Grant expresses his concern for the lord is quite gratifying to see. The style with which he drops truth bombs on the loyal servant, knowing fully well that he is risking his own neck stands as a testament to the character’s ability to read people. And the way in which Hugh Grant has incorporated the 30s style of the character into his being is uncanny. Right down to the cigarette holding and the walking, all seem a bit different than his usual self. He effortlessly captures and makes any character his own.
6. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Director: Sharon Maguire
Undoubtedly, one of the funniest things Hugh Grant has ever starred in, Bridget Jones’s Diary is a love letter to the love of the vices. It is an amazingly comical and brilliantly romantic movie that is an absolute must watch. The role of the womanizing boss was absolutely made for Grant. And with this, he proved that he was not just a goody-two-shoes. This led to him getting many bad boy type roles for which he previously wouldn’t have been even considered. The sarcastic style of comedy hits all the right notes and has made Bridget Jones’s Diary a timeless classic.
5. Paddington 2 (2017)
Director: Paul King
Paddington 2 is an amazing movie in itself. One of the main reasons for its success is the villain, who is played by Hugh Grant. Yes, you heard that right. Hugh Grant plays the villain in this film. And this attempt is brilliant and hilarious at the same time. The way in which Grant takes up the role and shows his multiple personality traits is astounding. He himself seems to enjoy this portrayal much more than the usual roles he plays. The grandeur, albeit fake, is shown with extreme care. Never does it seem to be too extravagant or underwhelming. It is just the perfect blend of both.
4. Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Director: Ang Lee
An Oscar-winning adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel by the same name, Sense and Sensibility as well as Grant’s performance, are certified tearjerkers. The amazingly charming and controlled performance that the actor delivers is unbelievable. He was always a charmer but here he endears as the mature, restrained lover, emerging extraordinarily triumphant. The tears that I mentioned have a particular cause. And that is the moving performances of Grant as he is able to showcase true grit while maintaining a demeanour that is both firm and flexible.
3. Maurice (1987)
Director: James Ivory
In an era when other actors would shy away from playing a homosexual man onscreen, Hugh Grant and James Wilby stood up to the task and defied all expectations and orthodox boundaries. The sheer amount of courage needed to pick up a taboo subject, is in it itself applaudable. Grant delivers, what many consider the best performance of his career. He won a Golden Globe for this one. The tender expressions on his face coupled with the suffering yet prevailing aura help him achieve a state of near-trance when he is on screen. His performance is so believable that the sexual tension between the two leads never seems forced at all. It flows like poetry. This mechanism has been perfectly used and has been honed by both the cast and the studio.
2. Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994)
Director: Mike Newell
This was the film that pushed Hugh Grant to stardom. His role was so iconic that for many coming years and even today it’s hard to separate the actor and the character. Although that might be quite unpleasant for Grant, it is also the epitome of perfection that an actor can reach. The character itself is Grant personified. And no amount of his present-day antics to separate himself from that image can convince me otherwise. But coming back to his performance in the film, it was simply perfect. It’s hard to imagine him outdoing himself here. The careless, tactless, charming and cute guy portrayal is right on the money. No one could have done it better and no one ever will.
1. About A Boy (2002)
Director: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
About A Boy is one of the best movies Hugh Grant has starred in. Some say it is the best. The tender relationship and chemistry between him and the kid are so adorable and deep at the same time. The character development that is portrayed by him is also one of the best I have ever seen him perform. He completely transforms from an ungrateful jerk into a caring, less of a jerk. The transition is nuanced and subtle. This brings an organic feel to his character and allows him to expand on his acting arsenal as well. We get to see him in a new avatar as he tackles both life and a newfound, almost fatherly relationship with a child.
There it is! The best performances of Hugh Grant.
Those of you who are wondering why we didn’t include Notting Hill in the list, it’s because the character shares a lot of similarities with some of the others mentioned in the list. Grant himself went as far as to say that it is the exact same character that he portrayed before. Apart from that, most of his performances had subtle differences from one another.
But at the end of the day, you cannot help loving the man. His appeal and charm speak volumes. The laid back demeanour is a characteristic you cannot miss. What about you? What are your favourite films/performances of the actor?