Remember when we knew Hugh Grant as that sweet, awkward English gent who was almost too good to get the girl? With films like Bridget Jones's Diary, About a Boy and Two Weeks Notice (opening tomorrow), it seems he wants to strike that guy from moviegoers' memories. Forget those fops from Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill he's playing arrogant, rich womanizers now. Why? Hey, it's more fun!
"Anything devilish actors tend to like," he explains. "It's always more fun than being Mr. Goody Two Shoes, which I've done my fair share of. And let me tell you, that stuff's hard."
In case you haven't noticed, he's also rid himself of the trademark Hugh Grant stammer. "I haven't done it for years and years," he insists, "but I bet you 50 percent of critics will say I still do."
Looking back on his previous on-screen persona, Grant laughs at critics who pegged him as a copycat of classic leading men. "When Four Weddings happened, people started asking, 'Do you model yourself on Cary Grant?' I used to say, 'Oh, a little bit.' The fact is that I'd never seen a Cary Grant film. I'm crap with black and white films. They come on the TV and I switch over I'd rather watch the football."
We've caught Grant in another bluff, too: Didn't he say he was done with acting? While his Two Weeks co-star Sandra Bullock seems serious about taking a break, Grant has mentioned early retirement so often, we ain't buyin' it any more.
"I'm sorry!" the 42-year-old chuckles. "I'm truly schizophrenic about that. I have days, or mornings, where I go, 'This is a good job. I like it.' And then there are others where I think, 'This is demeaning and ghastly.'"