Back in my golden age of frock flicks, being the late 1980s through mid 1990s, it seemed like Hugh Grant was always to be found in a high-starched collar or a cravat and top hat. He was the historical hottie, with his floppy hair and shy smile. Then he moved on to non-historical rom-coms and there was that scandal with a hooker, and more recently he was attacked by a phone-hacking ring in Britain, leading him to campaign for privacy rights. Hugh Grant is still acting but taking smaller, more unusual roles. Looking back on his work, he’s said:
“There’s a whole other character actor career I could have had, not me having to be a dishy leading man. Ask any actor: actually dishy leading man is quite a thankless task acting-wise. It can be lovely and well-paid, but no one wants to be Romeo: they want to be Tybalt or Mercutio.”
Well, he if he wants to throw on some tights for a quirky Shakespearean character onscreen, I’ll gladly watch!
Burlington in Honour, Profit & Pleasure (1985)
Crappy YouTube screencap is all ya get from this George Frideric Handel biopic. Though I do like what I can see of that 18th-c. lounging outfit on Hugh Grant.
Cherry Garrard in The Last Place on Earth (1985)
Another terrible screencap, Grant had a bit part in this TV movie about Scott & Amundsen’s race to the south pole in 1911-12.
William Hamilton / James in Lord Elgin and Some Stones of No Value (1986)
Tiny pic is all I can find, but dang, Hugh Grant looks cute in an 18th-c. wig! Pity the TV movie is about Lord Elgin stealing the Parthenon sculptures & making excuses for it.
Clive Durham in Maurice (1987)
Here’s where I started noticing Grant on film. He plays Maurice’s first lover at Cambridge, who later marries & spurns him. The film is based on E.M. Forster’s final book, which was only published after the author died. I adore this movie, though it can be hard to find these days. Read the book then!
This is a hilariously low-budget take on the Byron / Shelley meetup in Geneva where Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankenstein. It’s also how Hugh Grant met Elizabeth Hurley (she played Claire Clairmont), & they’d be together for 13 years.
Allan in The Bengali Night aka la Nuit Bengali (1988)
A French movie about an 1930s Indian romance, and it never aired theatrically in the U.S.
A very cheesy 17th-c. romance with surprisingly decent costumes & incredibly bad hair on Hugh Grant. Check out our Snark Week review.
Charles Heidsieck in Champagne Charlie (1989)
A TV movie about the guy who brought Champagne sales to the U.S. around the time of the Civil War. I mean, sure, I’m glad that happened, but did he need such a dorky ‘stache?
Bruno de Lancel in Till We Meet Again (1989)
One of those epic TV miniseries following characters through the changing world from 1913-1956. Guess they needed a British accent & Grant fit the bill.
Frederic Chopin in Impromptu (1991)
Ahh, here’s another of my early Hugh Grant faves! Many lines in this film are part of my regular vocabulary. And he looks swoony in this hat & cravat.
Reginald Cardinal in The Remains of the Day (1993)
He has a small role as the godson who warns folks about the lord of the manor being a Nazi-sympathizing jerk. Nice white tie!
Anthony Campion in Sirens (1994)
A fluffy fun movie pairing Hugh Grant & Tara Fitzgerald as a priest & his wife who get slowly less uptight through the influence of a local artist & some models.
Meredith Potter in An Awfully Big Adventure (1995)
This picture makes me question WHY HAVEN’T I SEEN THIS FILM?!??! It’s got Hugh Grant & Alan Rickman in a post-WWII theatrical troupe. I don’t need much more.
Reginald Anson in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995)
Another great pairing of Grant & Fitzgerald, this time in 1917 Wales. Peak “quirky charming art-house” frock flick!
If you’ve seen no other historical movie with Hugh Grant, you’ve seen this one. Otherwise, why are you even reading our blog?
This film is chock full of great actors in small roles. Grant plays the king’s painter & something of a snitch. He looks good in wigs!
Rev. Giles Horrox in Cloud Atlas (2012)
I haven’t seen this flick, but Hugh Grant plays multiple roles including one set in 1849. Couldn’t find a picture of that, so here he is in a futuristic part from this strange movie.
Waverly in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
1960s, in Italy, sharp!
Playing Jenkins’ manager & live-in boyfriend, he has a really sweet relationship with Streep onscreen.
What’s your favorite of Hugh Grant’s frock flick roles?
An Awfully Big Adventure is good, but has some challenging content.
It’s too bad because Alan Rickman as Captain Hook still takes my breath away.
“An Awfully Big Adventure” is a wonderful little art-house movie, and the trigger stuff is handled–“tastefully,” I think the word is. The theatrical troupe’s specialty is “Peter Pan” and so we are treated to both Rickman and Grant playing Captain Hook (although not at the same time). I don’t remember the costuming, but the general look and atmosphere felt right.
Oh yes, well put.
This. Absolutely THIS.
Has any of the Frock Flicks team done a review or TBT about Man from U.N.C.L.E.?
I’m not sure if it’s after your cutoff, but ‘A Very English Scandal’ with Grant and Ben Whishaw is worth a look.
Hugh Grant is no Leo G. Carroll!
Yes indeed. Just coming to mention that. Mr. Floopy hair has grown into an excellent character actor, particularly when they’re not so nice. Another good role is Fletcher in The Gentlemen.
I have ‘Maurice’ on VHS. That’s how long I’ve loved it.
Me too, sister! Me too, That night time scene with Rupert Graves and James Wilby was part of awakening as a woman ;)
(“I know sir! I know.”)
Florence Foster Jenkins was a surprisingly sweet movie, plus Howard from Big Bang Theory did all of his own piano playing. I should watch it again during my Christmas break!
Plus it had Nina Arianda (Ethel from Nicole Kidman’s recent Lucille Ball pic) in the role that should have made her “name on everyone’s lips” superstar. My god, she was a hoot in that!
My husband and I were mesmerized by “The Last Place on Earth” in the 1980’s. All the cast was excellent. The book also – although it and the author received a great deal of criticism at the time for how incompetent Scott was.
Grant’s character, Apsley Cherry-Garrard, was not part of the team making the last push to the pole, he lived until 1959 despite ill health after the expedition and wrote “The Worst Journey in the World,” which is still in print and worth reading.
The series also featured performances by Bill Nighy, Richard Morant (Bunter to Edward Petherbridge’s Lord Peter), Brian Dennehy, Max von Sydow, Sylvester McCoy! and Scandinavian actors playing Amundsen and crew. Warning — a total downer, not for the squeamish, have blankets to wrap up in as you will start to feel cold. On Free TV (I find Free TV through Amazon Prime).
Hear, hear! (Although I didn’t notice Grant as Cherry Garrard at the time and only read the book considerably later. The screencap is what you would expect someone looking like during/after the worst journey in the world.)
I feel terribly sorry for Cherry-Garrard. He was quite young, had no relevant training or background and frankly shouldn’t have been there all. The trauma of the expedition stayed with him for life.
To say that An Awfull Big Adventure has some trigger material is an extremely British level understatement especially as,it,is,marketed as,a,delightful romp of,mistakened identity But that you ❤ Impromptu shows we can be friends.
My favourites are Sense and Sensibility and Impromptu. And of course Love, Actually. I’d vote for him as PM.
Dear lord, but he was just the cutest, wasn’t he?
Oddly enough, I appear to have mentally merged Sirens and English Up the Hill (whatever) into the same movie. Realizing that they are two distinct films dispels my confusion about why there are so many hot naked Australians running around in Victorian Wales.
SarahV: Me too!!! I saw both movies WAY BACK WHEN and in my mind they became one and the same. But no, two delightful movies, twice as much Grant and Fitzgerald!
Let me give this Christmas gift to everyone: DO NOT WATCH CLOUD ATLAS!! Of course, there were many book readers who say that the book is a marvel but the movie is a travesty. I can’t add to that conversation, I can only say the movie is HORRIBLE. Watch anything else on this list instead.
Oh, Hugh…what a dream then AND now!!!! It’s impossible to choose a single fave FrockFlick role! But, I’ll go with a late one…Waverly in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I think the prerequisite for that movie was that ALL the men had to be fine!! Hugh Grant MCM is definitely MCM worthy–like maybe the most MCM-worthy of them all!!
Unpopular opinion – he’s the reason I don’t ship Elinor/Edward. But he’s delightfully floppy throughout the film. I really enjoy him in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill….
That’s a very popular opinion, actually. Even people who like that movie usually name him as the weak link. Personally, I think he’s one of many subpar choices in it, but YMMV. Dan Stevens is better.