In between the high-profile weddings of last week, Britain’s favourite bachelor Hugh Grant, 57, quietly got married to his Swedish producer-girlfriend Anna Eberstein in a private ceremony in London. And, with that, the poster boy of rom-coms proved he was not exactly afraid of committing his ‘relatively inexperienced heart’ to another. This is the first marriage for the actor who had once vowed to remain the eternal bachelor.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) May 26, 2018
Hugh Grant, with his floppy mop of hair and disarming smile, built his career on playing the bumbling, hopelessly-in-love guy-next-door in rom-coms until Judd Apatow killed the genre altogether. It was only recently that Grant announced his romancing days are over as he has got “older and uglier”. Off-screen, he is far from the good-natured Charlie from Four Weddings and A Funeral or the awkward but adorable William Thacker from Notting Hill. He is somewhere in between the inappropriate Prime Minister in Love Actually and the commitment-phobic Daniel Cleaver from Bridget Jones Diary. He had once famously said, “Do I think human beings are meant to be in 40-year-long monogamous, faithful relationships? No, no, no. Whoever said they were? Only the Bible or something. No one ever said that was a good idea,” adding, “I think there’s something unromantic about marriage.”
He’s probably clicking the delete button on that statement. Not that Grant did not open his heart to others. He’s been in high-profile relationships with Elizabeth Hurley and Jemima Khan, and was embroiled in a scandal in 1995 when he was arrested for engaging in “lewd conduct” in a public space with a sex worker. He might have been caught in an emotional tug-of-war with love in his personal life, but that hardly showed on screen, where he found love over and over again.
Think of Four Weddings and A Funeral; they don’t make rom-coms like that anymore. It’s witty, sentimental, and has a brilliant ensemble cast – the film couldn’t have been more British. It was one of the initial Richard Curtis and Hugh Grant collaborations, and they went on to work in Love Actually, Notting Hill, and the Bridget Jones series. It’s the classic story of how opposites attract. British Charles, who is afraid to get involved, and American Carrie, who keeps falling in love. The film is rightly sappy, hilarious and peppered with these moments that made it a great watch. It’s a screwball comedy, where the characters are deeply flawed, confused yet relatable and endearing. Where will you get such unadulterated irreverence when Rowan Atkinson as the novice priest while performing a wedding ceremony says, “I call upon those persons here present to witness… that I, Bernard… Delainey…take thee Lydia Jane Herbert… to be my awful wedded wife… May Almighty God bless you all in the name of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spigot… *Spirit*.”
Watch the scene:
The British-American affair continued in Notting Hill as well, where Hugh Grant as the luckless simpleton falls for a Hollywood star, played by Julia Roberts. The iconic scene where Julia Roberts says, “And don’t forget… I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” can even break a cynic. Hugh Grant proved here that not only can he pull off a pink shirt, but also made self-deprecating humour, halting speech and selling books look extremely attractive.
When not the bumbling guy-next-door, Grant found love playing the quintessential man-child who mends his way after finding his one true love – About A Boy, Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, Nine Months and so many more. In fact, he laid the foundation for the dry-witted man-child that has become a common feature in most rom-coms, something that became a trademark for Saif Ali Khan and now, Ranbir Kapoor.
In these various onscreen excursions, he gave hope to a whole lot of people that even if you age like fine wine, you can still be giddily flush in love, and behave likewise. He was the common man on the big screen, the one who was never an action star, but the man next door who would say hello and break into an inconsequential speech after he inadvertently emptied a cup of orange juice on you.
It’s true that Colin Firth stole Bridget Jones’ heart as the proper, honurable Mr Darcy, but there couldn’t have been a better Daniel Cleaver than the one portrayed by Hugh Grant. He perfected the “emotional fuckwittage” that made the character oh-so-delicious, unattainable and a complete jerk.
Richard Curtis’ Love Actually has become a cult classic as one of the most-watched holiday films. Though many of its fans are now realising some of the misogynistic plotlines in the film. For example: Hugh Grant as the lovelorn British Prime Minister who is highly inappropriate when he starts making passes at one of the junior members of the household staff. However, he gets his moment, when his character gets to tell the US President to basically sod off.
But Hugh Grant has moved on to more diverse and, let’s say, age-appropriate projects such as A Very English Scandal and Paddington 2. He’s also finally decided to settle down with someone who may or may not be his soulmate, a concept around which he made a living.
Now, there’s a more important task on hand. Finding the next person to revive the now-dead genre of rom-com, smile goofily and become its poster child. Don’t say Judd Apatow, please.