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"Christ, it's such a relief"
Hugh Grant's early IMDb credits read like the hall of fame of romantic comedies: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love, Actually, Notting Hill... the list goes on. In the late '90s and early '00s, Grant's name was synonymous with the cheesy romance fantasies are made of.
In recent years, though, the actor has gravitated towards more morally gray -- if not downright evil -- roles, like a corrupt politician in A Very English Scandal or a maniacal actor willing to go to any length to revive his career in Paddington 2. Next up, Grant will play wealthy philanthropist Jonathan Fraser in HBO's The Undoing, opposite Nicole Kidman as his wife Grace and directed by The Night Manager's Susanne Bier. While Fraser appears to be of upstanding moral fiber, the six-episode limited series will reveal that nothing is as it seems with the character.
"First of all, hang on, you don't know from what you've seen whether I'm nasty. If you've seen two [episodes of the show], you know I'm not entirely as lovely a I seem in [Episode] 1, but you don't know if I'm evil or not," Grant told journalists at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday. "As for playing characters that are not delightful, I've done nothing else really for the past six years. I've been consistently vile. Watch the film, The Gentleman, that comes out next week. If you want to see me at my worst, that's it."
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When pressed about whether he finds the darker characters more enjoyable, Grant revealed that he feels much closer to the nastier characters he's played in recent years. In fact, the squeaky-clean nature of his romantic comedy roles delighted his frequent collaborator Richard Curtis because of how far from actual Grant they were.
"Christ, it's such a relief [to play bad guys]. I can't tell you. Richard Curtis, who wrote all of those romantic comedies did a lot of -- it always used to make him laugh that people thought I was that nice, public, Englishman, because he knew that exactly the reverse was true," Grant revealed. "It's very nice to be closer to home."
The Undoing, which is written by David E. Kelley, premieres on HBO in May and follows the downfall of the Frasers after a terrible murder begins to bring terrible secrets and revelations that threaten to destroy their seemingly perfect lives.