Culture

Hugh Grant Is Angry And I Love Him

Hugh Grant has never been hotter than when he’s telling Tories to go and get fucked.

Hugh Grant

Celebrity endorsements are not the be-all and end-all of modern politics. We all lived through 2016; no one needs another Lena Dunham situation. We can all at least agree on that.

But as I watch British ‘90s heartthrob Hugh Grant get fired up about this week’s UK election, I’m not thinking about the worth or the harm of celebrity. I’m not thinking about all those think-pieces on Taylor Swift and Kanye West.

I’m thinking about smothering myself in Hugh Grant’s hair as he tweets about tactical voting.

I’m thinking that Hugh Grant, actually, has never been hotter than when he’s telling Tories to go and get fucked.

A Very English Scandal

Don’t know what I’m talking about? This is going to be a wild ride!

Rom-com royalty and stammering enthusiast Hugh Grant has emerged as one of the most lively figures of the UK general election (which is happening this week).

The actor has been extremely active on Twitter over the past few months, and has also hit the campaign trail with members of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and independents. The message: bring down the Conservative Party.

Grant says he’s been propelled into action by the ineptitude of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the “catastrophic” threat of Brexit, and the ongoing threat to the National Health Service. He’s pleading that people vote tactically — meaning they vote for the candidate who has the best chance of beating the Tories in each constituency, rather than the one each voter likes the most.

The actor has had a hell of an impact. People endorsing these tactics have been referred to as “Hugh Grant voters”; as the other political parties predictably haven’t been so keen to endorse this system, it’s fallen to the media and advocates to spread the message.

Grant also went viral this week for mocking Boris Johnson on the BBC, after the PM released a very weird Love Actually spoof (which was in fact a rip-off of a version from a Labour MP).

The result of all this: Tory trolls are saying he’s “triggered”, he’s being ridiculed by Sky News presenters, Janet Albrechtsen is threatening to boycott Love Actually in The Australian, and I somehow love him more than I did at after watching Paddington 2 (which is saying something).

About A Boy…

The thing you need to know about Hugh Grant is that, despite what you might think, he’s always been this way. He’s tough and rude and principled.

I don’t mean principled in the meek ‘I’m actually a little cross at the president for hitting on my staff member who I am also hitting on’ way. He’s principled in the ‘yeah I solicited the services of a sex worker 24 years ago, so what? I’ve never been implicated in the violation of people’s civil liberties or supported a government which is going to decimate people’s lives’ way.

Hugh Grant is that rare kind of celebrity whose most famous on-screen personas seem diametrically opposed to his real life.

Today, stars come with their off-screen baggage: their social media and “personal brand”, which are often deftly woven in to pandering roles. In the 1990s, Hugh Grant accidentally crafted his brand (bumbling ball of British charm) on screen and has always seemed to regret it. His success as Scruffy English Idiot in Four Weddings and a Funeral rolled in to his casting in the same role in Sense and Sensibility, Notting Hill, Nine Months and many more.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this year, Grant said that “every decision I ever made was possibly wrong”.

“I should’ve made interesting decisions and done different stuff. Instead, I repeated myself almost identically about 17 times in a row.”

Things definitely got a bit more interesting in the early 2000s. After the rom com good guy famously cheated on his long-term girlfriend Liz Hurley with a sex worker in LA, tabloid drama ensured, and suddenly he was cast as the playboy and the cynical cad (roles he’s said were much closer to his off-screen persona).

That tabloid attention then turned to phone-hacking by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), which led to Grant’s widely publicised subterfuge of a former News of the World exec, which contributed to the paper being shut down, which led to his ongoing mission to expose the wrongdoing of the Murdoch media empire.

He won damages from MGN last year and donated them to Hacked Off, a group that campaigns for a “free and accountable press” through independent media regulation. Grant is a board member and regularly calls out media bullshit through his Twitter @HackedOffHugh.

He’s still as posh as ever, of course. That part was always true both on- and off-screen. But he’s finally making those big decisions, taking those “interesting” roles, and he’s using his legacy as the poster boy of British charm and politeness to tell a dangerously inept prime minister to get fucked.

I don’t know if it will make a difference at the polls tomorrow; I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation to put on it. But it’s great to watch. With deep and sincere apologies to my ‘90s rom com boyfriend, I have to say: this is truly the best era of Hugh Grant.


Meg Watson is a Melbourne-based writer, and a former editor of Junkee. She tweets at @msmegwatson.