All About the Complicated Life of Hugh Grant


| LAST UPDATE 03/23/2023

By Malikah Mcintosh

His name and face are practically in every rom-com movie ever made, but everything not everything is as perfect as a rom-com. Here's everything to know about the scandals and the life of British actor Hugh Grant.

Before the Fame

Hugh Grant was born into a military family on September 9, 1960. They lived in London and would summer in Scotland. Before becoming famous, he was a regular boy who liked to fish with his grandpa.

Hugh Grant Scotland childhoodHugh Grant Scotland childhood

He had an older brother, James. Growing up, he was very into sports, and acting was not the focus of his interests. For Grant, it was just another hobby, and he had no real intention of becoming an actor. But life has a funny way of working itself out.

It Was a No at First

Grant said no to acting at first. We can hardly believe it! While attending Oxford, he played a role in the film Privileged, which the Oxford University Film Foundation produced. At a screening of the film, an agent approached Grant, asking him if he wanted to act and sign with him. Surprisingly, Grant actually declined! 

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Moviestore via Shutterstock

He meant to pursue a Ph.D. in art history and do other things with his life; in his view, this acting thing wasn't going to be his profession. But then he took a moment to reconsider: what if he did this for a year or so? That could be fun. So, he went back to the agent and said yes.

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From 'Bounty' to Union Block

Grant's acting abilities were immediately recognized. He was on track to be cast in The Bounty, alongside stars Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, but then Grant hit a bit of a roadblock. As the actor told Jenelle Riley in an interview, "In those days in England, if you weren't already a member of the union, Equity, you couldn't do a film."

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Rotten Tomatoes Trailers via YouTube

He continued explaining, "You had to go and earn your Equity card doing regional theater so they wouldn't let me do the film in the end. So I thought, 'Well, I'll go and get a bloody Equity card.' So I went off to Nottingham Playhouse." Grant spent the next year playing minor roles in local theater productions.

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The Big Break

After earning his Equity card, Grant started acting in television shows and films. He worked steadily for a few years when he received the script for a movie called Four Weddings and a Funeral. He accepted the role and became an overnight sensation; the whole world was entranced by the Brit with floppy hair and a winning smile. 

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Movieclips via YouTube

The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards, and Grant took home the Golden Globe and the BAFTA for his performance. In their original review, Variety wrote, "Grant's got just the combination of good looks, rueful self-disparagement, quickness and bespectacled nerdiness to carry off refined, sophisticated screen comedy."

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Under the Surface

The Brit had been catapulted into stardom. Everyone wanted a piece of Hugh Grant. He signed a production deal, and countless roles were thrown at him. From not being allowed to act in a film to now being one of the world's biggest stars, Grant had come a long way.

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AP Archive via YouTube

While the instant fame certainly had its perks for the London native, it also came with its downfalls. Just as his career was characterized by his many successes, it was also marked by scandals. But what pitfalls would the charming Hugh Grant have to deal with?

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Trouble on Sunset Boulevard

While he was still practically a nobody, Hugh Grant met actress Elizabeth Hurley on the set of Remando Al Viento. They instantly began dating in 1987, and Grant even appointed Hurley as the head of development of his production company. They were one of Hollywood's 'It' couples. 

Elizabeth Hurley Hugh GrantElizabeth Hurley Hugh Grant
American Photo Syndicate Aa via Shutterstock

Then, trouble came for the seemingly perfect couple. Hugh Grant was caught cheating on Hurley with a sex worker named Divine Brown while he was in Los Angeles promoting his new film, Nine Months. After the news came out, people had many questions for the actor...

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"I Did a Bad Thing"

Grant's schedule was already full of television appearances to promote his new movie, which he was still obliged to attend. And everyone had the same question: "What happened?!" When the Sense and Sensibility actor came onto The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Leno had no issues getting straight to it.

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AP Archive via YouTube

Leno asked Grant, "What the h*** were you thinking?" Grant responded with his signature hesitations and mumbles sprinkled throughout, "I think you know in life what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing, and I did a bad thing. And there you have it."

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Elizabeth Speaks Out

A day after the event, Grant released a statement saying, "Last night I did something completely insane. I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say." There was also someone else who had something to say, Grant's longtime girlfriend, Liz Hurley.

Elizabeth Hurley Hugh GrantElizabeth Hurley Hugh Grant
AP Archive via YouTube

She said, "I am still bewildered and saddened by recent events… This is all very painful for me and if members of the press could find it in their hearts to give me some time I would be very grateful." The couple stayed together amidst what was one of the big cheating scandals of the '90s.

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A Hiatus

Grant took a three-year break from acting around 1996. Nine Months and Sense and Sensibility came out in 1995, both of which received excellent performance reviews. Yet, he decided a hiatus was necessary. It would take old friends to get Grant back in the game, and when he did, he was better than ever. 

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Movieclips via YouTube

In 1999, the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Richard Curtis, had another film he wrote. This one was about a boy and a girl who fall in love, except the girl happens to be the world's biggest movie star. Hugh Grant signed for the role opposite Julia Roberts and came back better than ever with Notting Hill.

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Split for Good

Things were looking good in Grant's career at this point - but as for his personal life? Unfortunately, not so much. After 13 years of dating, Hurley and Grant decided to call it quits on their relationship. They had their fair share of struggles and ultimately agreed that things weren't working for them.

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@elizabethhurley1 via Instagram

When Hurley went on Watch What Happens Live in 2015, she told Andy Cohen, "He used to really annoy me, actually. I mean, I love him, but, um, he's very annoying. My friends used to call him Grumpelstiltskin." Grant guessed on WWHL that they split because "the sex bit probably fizzled out..." Today, the pair remain good friends.

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Hollywood Heartthrob

While his personal life may have been on the rocky side, his career was blasting off. Hugh Grant was seemingly everywhere. He starred as a charming womanizer in Bridget Jones's Diary and then as another womanizer in About a Boy. Both films were instant successes.

Hugh Grant Emma ThompsonHugh Grant Emma Thompson
Universal Pictures All-Access via YouTube

He went on to star in Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock. Then in 2003, he teamed up with writer Richard Curtis yet another time for the now-holiday classic Love, Actually. There practically wasn't a romantic comedy made without Hugh Grant starring in it. We wouldn't want it any other way. 

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Paparazzi Problems

With all of the success came extra attention towards the Hollywood star. Everyone wanted to know what he was doing and who he was hanging out with. The paparazzi followed him everywhere he went, and Grant was fed up. In 2007, he was arrested on allegations of assault by a paparazzi.

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Conan O'Brien via YouTube

Pap Ian Whittaker claimed that the About a Boy star had thrown a can of beans at him, abused him, and kicked him. The incident happened near the star's home, as Reuters reports. However, the charges were dropped. But that wasn't the only trouble the enchanting actor was facing...

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'Music & Not Getting Along'

While he was at the height of his rom-com era, Hugh Grant starred in Music and Lyrics, opposite Drew Barrymore. But while fans loved their on-screen chemistry, apparently things weren't all fun and games behind the scenes. Grant said on The Jess Cagle Show in 2018, "Drew, I think, did hate me a bit."

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Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers via YouTube

He continued, "But I admired her. We were just very different human beings. She was very LA, and I was a grumpy old Londoner." Grant even remarked that there was tension on the set, but in the end, Barrymore saw past his grumpiness, and the two became friends.

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Unwanted Exposure

Due to his star status, Hugh Grant was frequently targeted by the press. They were relentless in trying to find out the inner details of his life, and then would then release them to the public. The media was rather intrusive when it came to getting the inside scoop on the Notting Hill star's life. 

Hugh Grant Press MediaHugh Grant Press Media
AP Archive via YouTube

The result? Unexpected details of involving the actor were revealed. The news outlet News of the World was hacking the phones of various celebrities, politicians and newsworthy figures. They stopped at nothing to get the information they wanted. But the good news is, Grant got his revenge.

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Tabloid Takedown

Grant learned that he was a victim of the phone hacking scandal, and he needed to know more. He ran into whistleblower Paul McMullan, who released the shocking information. So, Grant decided to befriend him and understand what happened behind closed doors. Without McMullan's knowledge, the actor recorded the journalist.

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CBS Sunday Morning via YouTube

In that conversation, McMullan revealed they'd hacked many individuals' phones for information and that the police were accepting bribes in exchange for information. The evidence was overwhelming and forced the news outlet out of business. So, things should have gotten better between Grant and the press, right? One would think...

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The Battle Continues

Despite gaining more information and even writing an article of his own, Hugh Grant's relationship with the press didn't improve. In fact, it seemed to worsen after the whole scandal. Grant claimed that he helped to save the media from police spying.

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People via YouTube

Journalists and editors were quick to respond, asserting that their collective effort to unite and work together brought an end to this scandal. While it could have been a moment of understanding, Hugh Grant and the press were destined never to get along, and this wasn't the only rocky relationship in his life.

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On and Off

Hugh Grant's love life was also on shaky grounds. He had an on-and-off relationship with Tinglan Hong. According to Us Weekly, the couple welcomed their first child together in one of their "off" periods. At this point, Grant was already in his 50s when he became a father.

Hugh Grant Graham NortonHugh Grant Graham Norton
BBC via YouTube

They had a baby girl in September 2011, and gave her the English name Tabitha. The couple also gave her a Chinese name, Jing Xi, which translates to happy sunrise. Over a year later, when they were together again, the couple welcomed their second son, Felix. But what happened while they were "off"?

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A Love Triangle

The king of romantic comedies found himself in a love triangle of his own. During one of his off periods from Tinglan Hong, Grant became acquainted with television producer Anna Eberstein. In 2012, he welcomed a baby boy with Eberstein. And only a few months later, his second son, and third child, was born to Hong.

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TODAY via YouTube

Instead of Grant vying for Renée Zellweger's or Julia Roberts's attention, he was the one in the middle of two women! He went from forever bachelor to being smack dab in the center of a love triangle. While many women would have loved to have been in their shoes, a few wouldn't touch Grant with a ten-foot pole.

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The Worst Guest

As it turns out, one person who has no desire to be near Hugh Grant again is television talk show host Jon Stewart. When Stewart was still working on The Daily Show, Stewart had the infamously grumpy Brit on his show and said he was his least favorite guest, noting, "and we've had dictators on the show."

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Alan Carr: Chatty Man via YouTube

Stewart said of Grant's behavior, "He's giving everyone s* the whole time, and he's a big pain in the a*." The late-night host said he'd never have him back as a guest. Grant wrote on Twitter, "Turns out my inner crab for the better of me with TV producer in 09. Unforgivable. J Stewart correct to give me kicking." Ouch.

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Not the Only One

Apparently, Stewart wasn't the only one who had problems with Grant's on-set behavior. His one-time co-star, Robert Downey Jr., also had issues with the Bridget Jones's Diary star. The two movie stars were in a film called Restoration together in 1995, and things on set weren't all roses and daisies.

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Omaze via YouTube

Per The Guardian, Downey called his co-star "a jerk," "an a**hole," and a "self-important, boring flash-in-the-pan Brit." Meanwhile, Grant told PEOPLE, "He hated me. He took one look at me and wanted to kill me." Since then, the Iron Man star has asked his former co-star to "break bread together" on Twitter. 

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The Next Stages

As Grant moved on to the next phase of life, he also worked on the next stage of his career. In 2016, he took a role that Variety called the "best work of his career." He starred opposite Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins. He continued to take on roles that defied the rom-com typecast of his earlier career.

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BBC via YouTube

He was the villain in the family flick Paddington 2. He was nominated for a BAFTA for his performance! He also impressed audiences with his return to the silver screen in the miniseries A Very English Scandal. His career wasn't the only thing progressing. His personal life was also in the midst of a significant change. 

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Father to Five

Grant and Eberstein reconnected and rekindled their romance. This time it seemed like they were in it for the long haul. They had one of their first public appearances as a couple at the 2015 French Open in Paris. They were seen laughing, talking, and watching the famous tennis tournament.

Hugh Grant With KidsHugh Grant With Kids
Andrew Fosker/BPI via Shutterstock

They also had two more children together, and both of them were girls. Now they had a blended family together. While it may not be the conventional family setup, it worked for them. Did Hugh Grant finally find the one? Was this romantic comedy star going to get his kiss in the rain and declaration of love?

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A Married Man

At long last, Hugh Grant was officially off the dating roster. The 57-year-old actor had tied the knot with Eberstein. According to PEOPLE, they made it official in London at the Chelsea Register Office on Friday, May 25, 2018, and celebrated with friends and family afterward. Love was all around them that day.

Hugh Grant Anna EbersteinHugh Grant Anna Eberstein
AP Archive via YouTube

Grant confessed on the Today show, "I should have done it before. I'm just lucky. I'm lucky. I've got a great wife. I love her." It wouldn't be Grant if there weren't a scandal, though. Rumors circulated the couple wed for a passport, but the actor quickly denied the rumors on Twitter. 

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Being a Dad

Hugh Grant loved his biggest role yet, being a father. The Brit told Jess Cagle, "It's just lovely to have all that love around. Suddenly you love someone more than yourself. It's unheard of in my case and they love you and it's all enchanting." Better late than never for the actor!

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People via YouTube

He also revealed recently on The View that when he hears the music of some of his most famous scenes, he'll dance - even if it's in public! While fans may enjoy that news, his kids have the opposite reaction. He said, "My children beg me to stop. 'Please Daddy, it's embarrassing.'"

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Sometimes Dad Needs a Break

Everyone needs a break sometimes, even famous dads. Grant was cast in The Undoing alongside Nicole Kidman. Filming took place in New York City, a long way from home for the British star. His co-star brought her family with her, but Grant's stayed at home.

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Omaze via YouTube

During an interview with Marie Claire, Grant said, "I thought, 'Oh, fantastic opportunity to get away from my screaming children.' I left everyone in London. And then as soon as I got to New York, each time I came out to film, I missed so much. It was, it was awful." It seems like Grant won't be making that mistake again. 

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Why He Stepped Away

Looking back at Hugh's career, there's a definitive line. His presence is noticeably missing from movie screens between 2009 and 2012. He was the rom-com king, and then one day, he "just had enough." The actor told the Los Angeles Times, "At that point, it wasn't me giving up Hollywood. Hollywood gave me up..."

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HBO via YouTube

He continued, "... the days of being a very well-paid leading man were suddenly gone overnight." As he put it quite frankly to The Hollywood Reporter, "I've gotten too old and ugly and fat to do [rom-coms] anymore, so now I've done other things." Like always, Hugh Grant kept it simple and honest.

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"I Lost My Temper"

As he's been exploring new career ventures and being a father, some old habits came to haunt the actor. While on the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves set, Grant found himself in another scandal. He told Total Film magazine, "I lost my temper with a woman in my eye line on day one."

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ABC News via YouTube

He continued, "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. A lot of groveling…" Major yikes! That wouldn't be the last time he made headlines recently.

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That Awkward Interview

Grant has recently been making the headlines for his extremely uncomfortable interview on the Oscars red carpet. Model Ashley Graham was interviewing the Brit, who left fans divided. She asked if he was excited by the prospect of any actors winning, and he responded, "No one in particular."

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Entertainment Tonight via YouTube

When she asked who he was wearing, he dryly said, "Just my suit." If that wasn't awkward enough, when she asked about his cameo in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Grant said, "Well, I'm barely in it. I'm in it for about three seconds." While some think he was being authentic, others think he was outright rude. 

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'Drunk, Actually'

While the actor has had his fair share of scandals and bad behavior, there are many times when he is just a regular guy. During a news special celebrating the 20th anniversary of Love, Actually, Hugh gave Diane Sawyer a glimpse into his daily life at home. 

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Daily Mail via YouTube

He said, "And I did drunkenly watch a bit of Love Actually a few months ago with my wife, and she was the one who said, 'Oh look, it's all about pain; it's all about suffering.'" The movie has been a staple in the genre, and although he may not be the leading rom-com many any longer, his legacy will surely last for years.

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All About Hugh

Over the years, Hugh Grant has charmed our hearts with his floppy hair and stammering British accent. While he has been embroiled in scandals, he continues to win us over time and time again. Perhaps his longtime collaborator Richard Curtis said it best.

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GQ via YouTube

He told Sawyer, "I don't know if I'd have a career without Hugh, so I'm very grateful he came along. His crankiness isn't just pretend. He's often cranky and often unhappy, but he's also the only person in the world who's never sent me a text that hasn't made me laugh." Cheers to Hugh!

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