To celebrate Hugh Grant's 60th birthday on Sept. 9, 2020, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at the British actor's biggest moments on — and off — the big screen in photos. Keep reading to take a trip down memory lane…
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Hugh John Mungo Grant was born in London's Hammersmith district on Sept. 9, 1960. His father, Captain James Grant, was an officer in the British Army and ran a carpet firm while his mother, Fynvola, was a school teacher. Hugh has an older brother, James "Jamie" Grant, who's a New York-based investment banker. As a kid, the future star played rugby, cricket and football for his London school.
Hugh Grant attended the University of Oxford, where he studied English and graduated with honors. While there, he joined Oxford's Dramatic Society as a hobby. He starred in his first film in 1982, the drama "Privileged," which was produced by Oxford's Film Foundation. After college, Hugh started working in regional theater to get experience before landing a series of roles on British television, like in the 1986 movie "Shades of Darkness: The Demon Lover" (seen here).
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The first leading role for Hugh Grant came in the 1987 Merchant-Ivory drama "Maurice." The Edwardian-era gay romance earned universal praise upon its release and won the rising star a best actor trophy at the Venice Film Festival. "Maurice" became the launchpad for Hugh's impending success as a household name.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the actor became known for his work in numerous British period dramas. It just wasn't a Hugh Grant movie if you didn't see him in a good wig or costume — the evidence can be seen in projects like 1989's "The Lady and the Highwayman" (pictured with co-star Lysette Anthony), 1988's "The Dawning" and "The Lair of the White Worm," 1991's "Impromptu," 1992's "Bitter Moon" and 1993's "The Remains of the Day."
After meeting on the set of the 1988 Spanish production "Remando Al Viento," Hugh Grant and actress Elizabeth Hurley moved their on-screen romance to their real lives. The pair started dating while filming and quickly became the subject of much media scrutiny. Hugh and Liz went on to become one of the defining Hollywood "it" couple of the 1990s, sending flashbulbs into a frenzy with every red carpet appearance. They're seen here at the premiere for his movie "The Remains of the Day" in 1993.
Hugh Grant has said he was on the brink of giving up acting at 32 before he landed his major breakthrough role as Charles in the 1994 hit romantic comedy "Four Weddings and a Funeral." He later recalled his joy at receiving the script to Variety, saying, "If you read as many bad scripts as I did, you'd know how grateful you are when you come across one where the guy actually is funny."
"Four Weddings and a Funeral" was a massive hit upon its release. It became the highest grossing British film in history at the time, was nominated for two Academy Awards and won Hugh Grant both a 1995 Golden Globe (pictured) and a BAFTA Award. The film would propel the actor into international stardom, especially in the United States, and make him one of Hollywood's favorite romantic leads.
Best actor winner Hugh Grant is seen here with his "Four Weddings and a Funeral" screenwriter Richard Curtis, co-stars Kristin Scott Thomas and John Hannah and producer Duncan Kenworthy — and their prizes — at the British Academy Film Awards in London in April 1995.
A scandal almost ruined everything for Hugh Grant after he was arrested in Los Angeles in June 1995 following a sexual encounter in a public place with a prostitute named Divine Brown. The actor pleaded no contest and was fined $1,180, placed on two years of summary probation and ordered to complete an AIDS education program. The incident garnered major media attention, with Hugh's mug shot still circulating to this day, and nearly derailed the release of his film "Nine Months" only a few weeks later.
The same week Hugh was arrested, he was scheduled to be on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and to everyone's surprise, he still made the appearance. The interview became one of the biggest water cooler moments in late night history, with Jay famously asking, "What the hell were you thinking?" Ever the charmer, the star didn't hold back, telling the talk show host, "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." Fessing up to the crime might have kept Hugh from quickly becoming a has-been, although he did take a break from acting to let everything blow over.
Just a few weeks after his arrest, Hugh Grant's comedy "Nine Months" co-starring Julianne Moore opened in theaters. "Nine Months" was the actor's first American film, and expectations were high. The movie went on to gross nearly $140 million worldwide but was panned by critics. Hugh looked back poorly at the project in a 2016 interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, saying, "I really ruined it, and it was entirely my fault. I panicked. It was such a big jump up from what I'd been paid before to what they were offering me. And the scale was inhuman to my standards … and I just tried much too hard."
He quickly got back in the good graces of critics: Hugh Grant's next major movie appearance came in the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," which starred (and was written by) Emma Thompson, as well as a pre-"Titanic" Kate Winslet. The period drama became a big hit, grossing more than $135 million worldwide, earning golden reviews and getting nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture.
Despite all the public scrutiny surrounding Hugh Grant's prostitute scandal, his relationship with Elizabeth Hurley remained strong. Liz stood by her man through the entire ordeal and the two remained one of Hollywood's most discussed couples. In fact, the incident seemed to make them even more popular. Hugh and Liz are seen here meeting with Prince Charles in June 1999.
Hugh Grant made a much buzzed-about comeback with the romantic comedy "Notting Hill" in 1999 in which he starred alongside Julia Roberts, arguably the world's biggest celebrity at the time. The hit love story about a girl (who, coincidentally, is also the world's biggest movie star) standing in front of a boy (Hugh's common London bookstore owner) asking him to love her surpassed "Four Weddings and a Funeral" as the highest grossing British film of all time, raking in $364 million worldwide. It also became one of the most iconic rom-coms in film history, proving Hugh still had it as a reigning Hollywood heartthrob.
After spending 13 years as a couple, Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley called it quits in 2000, making their final public appearance together at the 2000 Golden Globe Awards, where the actor was nominated for his work in "Notting Hill." Despite the breakup, the pair have remained friends to this day. Liz discussed their split on a 2015 episode of "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen," telling Andy, "He remains my best friend to this day, but he used to really annoy me … I love him, but he's very annoying." Hugh is also the godfather to her son, Damian, who was born in 2002.
"Bridget Jones's Diary," which hit theaters in April 2001, continued Hugh Grant's trend of romantic comedy successes, with the film earning $281 million worldwide. The movie based on the hit book of the same name garnered rave reviews for the actor's portrayal of the manipulative, womanizing, sexy Daniel Cleaver as he tries to woo Renee Zellweger's Bridget away from Colin Firth's charming Mark Darcy. Renee received an Oscar nomination for her performance and "Bridget Jones" launched two sequels.
Hugh Grant brought parents James and Fynvola along as his dates to the "Bridget Jones's Diary" premiere afterparty at Mezzo in London in April 2001.
Hugh Grant's winning streak kept on chugging with "About a Boy" in 2002. The romantic comedy grossed more than $128 million worldwide and earned the actor some of the best reviews of his career, with many stating that his performance as a lonely 30-something who has to learn to grow up with the help of a kid was his best to date. Co-starring Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette and a young Nicholas Hoult, "About a Boy" also secured Hugh his third Golden Globe nomination.
That same year, 2002, Hugh Grant showed some fiery chemistry with Sandra Bullock in their rom-com "Two Weeks Notice." Although critics didn't react kindly to the film, it still managed to get people into theaters to the tune of $200 million. There was no disputing Hugh's star power at the box office and romantic comedies just didn't feel right without him.
It goes without saying, but you couldn't make the romantic comedy of ALL romantic comedies without Hugh Grant. 2003's "Love Actually" became an instant classic when it hit theaters, and the actor's portrayal of a British prime minister who can control his feelings for his employee (Martine McCutcheon) as much as he can keep himself from dancing got hearts around the world fluttering. The film, which grossed nearly $250 million worldwide, has become a Christmas staple for anyone who needs a little romance around the holiday season.
Marking the first sequel of his career, Hugh returned as Daniel Cleaver for the second Bridget Jones film, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," in 2004. The love triangle between Hugh, Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth's characters continued for another round, and although reviews weren't as excited by the do-over, the comedy still went on to gross more than $265 million. A third Bridget Jones film was eventually released in 2016, but our favorite Brit did not join the cast to round out the trilogy.
By the mid-2000s, Hugh Grant was officially one of the biggest British actors in Hollywood, and easily one of the most bankable romantic comedy stars. His films have collectively grossed more than $2.4 billion worldwide, and he's made as many headlines for his big-screen roles as he has for his off-screen antics — the signs of a true A-list celebrity. So well-regarded was Hugh that in 2005, he got the opportunity to greet Queen Elizabeth II during a banquet at the Italian Ambassador's residence.
A few years after his split from Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant started seeing British journalist-turned-TV and film producer Jemima Goldsmith, who was then better known as Jemima Khan. She'd just divorced famed former cricketer Imran Khan, who in 2018 became Pakistan's prime minister. But it wasn't meant to be for Jemima and Hugh either, and they split in February 2007 after three years together. They're seen here at the New York City premiere of his film "Music and Lyrics" days before their breakup was announced.
Hugh Grant starred in "Music and Lyrics" opposite Drew Barrymore in early 2007. The consummate professional learned to sing, play the piano and dance a few steps and studied the mannerisms of prominent musicians to prepare for his role as a has-been pop singer. That said, the two stars famously did not get along, with Hugh telling People magazine in 2018, "Drew, I think, did hate me a bit, but I admired her. We just were very different human beings. The funny thing is, although it was fractionally tense on the set of that film, I think the chemistry is rather good between us." Audiences certainly fell for their on-screen chemistry as the comedy received positive reviews and earned $145 million at the box office.
Sadly, not every film can be a hit, and Hugh Grant's turn in 2009's "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" was his first romantic comedy in years to gross less than $100 million. He and co-star Sarah Jessica Parker played a New York couple forced to live in the country upon entering the Witness Protection Program after seeing a murder. Critics ripped the film apart — Sarah was even nominated for a Razzie Award.
An athlete since he was kid, Hugh Grant has always taken sports seriously. For example, golf is more than just a personal hobby for the star. He told CNN in 2006 that he's "a proper sad golfer. Your life is gone. So too, your personality and your interest in life. Nothing but golf interests me now." Hugh has played in numerous tournaments around this world, including this one in China in 2010. "If there's a new gadget for sale, I'll buy it. I've never not bought anything that's been offered, and there's now a whole room in my house dedicated to golf equipment," he told CNN.
Hugh Grant's next movie was the 2012 sci-fi epic "Cloud Atlas" co-starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. This was no easy undertaking, with the actor taking on no less than six roles for the high-budget film. It received a mixed reaction, which a frustrated Hugh explained in a 2014 interview with IndieWire, saying "I thought ["Cloud Atlas"] was amazing … Every time I've done something outside the genre of light comedy, the film fails to find an audience at the box office. And, sadly, 'Cloud Atlas' never really found the audience it deserved."
Never one to stay down for long, Hugh Grant reached new heights with his performance in "Florence Foster Jenkins" in 2016. The actor played the partner of the title character, memorably portrayed by Meryl Streep, with numerous reviews hailing it as a defining performance in his career. Hugh received numerous award nominations for his work including nods for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA Award, a Critics' Choice Award and his first solo SAG Award. For the first time, the star couldn't escape the momentum of "Oscar talk," although he was sadly snubbed on nomination day.
Hugh Grant's next career pivot was a starring role in 2017's "Paddington 2" as the villainous Phoenix Buchanan. The family film became his biggest moneymaker since the "Bridget Jones" movies and earned Hugh more glowing reviews for his scene-stealing work. He even went on to win the London Film Critics' Circle Award for supporting actor of the year.
Hugh Grant pivoted to television in 2018 and delivered a critically acclaimed performance in the BBC One and Amazon miniseries "A Very English Scandal" — which told the story of how British politician Jeremy Thorpe was tried and acquitted of conspiring to murder his alleged former lover, Norman Scott — alongside Ben Whishaw. "I thought, television? I don't think I do television because I'm old fashioned like that and then I read [the scripts]. They were completely brilliant," Hugh told ScreenDaily. The move paid off: He was nominated for Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards for his performance.
Like many of his characters before him, Hugh Grant finally gave up a life of seemingly eternal bachelordom when he got hitched to Swedish businesswoman Anna Eberstein in 2018. (They're seen here at the 2019 Golden Globes). The director of sock company Ace&Me was linked to the actor for nearly six years before they married at a London registry office when Hugh was 57. He told "Today" in 2018 that he wishes he hadn't taken so long to get married, saying, "I should have done it before. I'm just lucky. I've got a great wife. I love her." The notoriously private pair welcomed a son in 2012, a daughter in 2015 and a third child in 2018 shortly before their nuptials. Hugh also has two children from a previous casual relationship with Tinglan Hong, whose second pregnancy overlapped with Anna's first. He gushed about being a dad to People magazine in 2018, saying, "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."
Hugh Grant has remained as busy as ever since becoming a first-time husband and father for the fifth time. He was most recently seen in Guy Ritchie's "The Gentleman" in 2020 alongside an all-star cast that included Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery and Colin Farrell. The film marked another against-type role for the actor, and despite the project's mixed reception, Hugh still received praise. The action flick raked in $115 million and as of early September was the sixth highest grossing film of the year.
Next up for Hugh Grant is the HBO miniseries "The Undoing" co-starring Nicole Kidman. Fans of the actor's romantic comedies will have to remain patient, as the show is a dark drama based on the bestselling book "You Should Have Known." The awards contender premieres in October 2020.