The decade is nearly done and Hugh Grant is about to come out with his eighth romantic comedy of the 2000s.
In the midst of the madness-inducing monotony of a studio-driven media junket in London, Grant sat down with MTV News to discuss what strokes his ego, his occasionally self-conscious feelings about his famously floppy 'do and why Sarah Jessica is kinda freakish.
MTV: You must enjoy talking endlessly in a room like this for hours on end. How can I make this more enjoyable for you?
Hugh Grant: Leave! No, it's absolutely fine. It's nice of you to interview me.
MTV: You have a reputation as someone that's choosy about his roles. Do you think you're more choosy than you used to be? Is it harder to get you to commit to a film today?
Grant: I've only been choosy since I've had a choice. I spent at least half my acting career having no choice at all. I'd take any old rubbish that came my way. Since "Four Weddings and a Funeral," I've been quite picky. But it's more because I'm a very limited actor. There's very little I can do, and so the scripts that I can do or be good at come around very rarely.
MTV: What are the criteria? What are you looking for?
Grant: I've got to be able to play it. That's rare. It's got to make me laugh. I've got to want to turn the pages without wanting to go and have a cup of coffee. I'm too vain to make a failure. I really don't like that. I've taken a few risks in my time and they've, on the whole, failed.
MTV: When you see yourself onscreen, are you critical of your performance or can you enjoy it?
Grant: I can occasionally enjoy it if it's a good film and there's a big audience there who are laughing — I get an ego trip if they're liking it. But you put me in a room alone with a film, I'm in hell.
MTV: So flipping on the television past "Notting Hill," do you stop and watch?
Grant: If I was feeling masochistic, the same impulse that comes around twice a year where you Google yourself and read all the spiteful things that people have to say about you — that same impulse can make you watch 10 minutes of a film you're in that comes on the TV. I just think, "Ugh, bad haircut!"
MTV: Was there a time you thought you had more range as an actor?
Grant: There was a time. I did a film with Sarah Jessica Parker 13 years ago [called "Extreme Measures"]. People said, "You should do something different." So I produced this thriller. Actually it's not a terrible film. But 11 people around the world went to see it. It's not that I love romantic comedies. In many ways, I hate them. But it's something I feel, "I can do this."
MTV: What is it you hate about romantic comedies?
Grant: Well, a bad romantic comedy is a terrible thing. There are two things you need to make a good one. One, is it's got to be properly funny, the writer has to actually have talent. The other thing is the romantic element has to be real and not phony. Often these things are cooked up in a Hollywood oven and it doesn't work unless the person who wrote it actually means it.
MTV: You mentioned you worked with Sarah Jessica Parker. That was pre-"Sex and the City." Has all that success gone to her head?
Grant: Yes, she's become a monster. No, I liked her in "Extreme Measures," but I really love her now. We bonded incredibly well on this film, mainly because we're both so nervous, especially at the beginning. We were united in fear. I find her funny and eccentric. She has strange appetites. I've never seen anyone eat like that. You can put anything in front of her and it's gone in four seconds. She's half-woman, half-locust. And she's tiny. It's freakish.
MTV: Were you a big "Sex and the City" fan?
Grant: To be honest, I slightly feared the show. I don't like to think that's the way girls talk when men aren't around. It makes me frightened of women. I watched the film when we decided we'd cast Sarah Jessica. I was embarrassed by how much I loved it.
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