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Trash Talker?

Between his roles in mostly romantic comedies, the witty, urbane British actor Hugh Grant loves a testy game of golf.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Hugh Grant, November/December 2009

(continued from page 6)

Grant says, "I would enjoy directing, but I only want to do something I've written." He has a story he'd like to do based on his grandfather's World War II experience involving an escape from a POW camp but his father has forbidden him, so far.

"My father is very much against it," Grant says. "To him, any film equals Hollywood equals a sort of sellout. It would debase what was for him a very sensitive episode involving a regiment of which his family is incredibly proud. There's a beauty to the old regimental system and that's why I want to make the film. It must be in my genes; I've got so many soldiers as forebears."

So for Grant, there's work, there's golf—and then there are women. A bachelor most famously involved at various points with model Elizabeth Hurley and British socialite Jemima Khan, Grant says, "I'm the first to admit that I'm not good at staying in relationships. Every man struggles with that; every woman, too. I'm not sure how natural relationships are."

He professes to want children but has no immediate prospects, in terms of a long-term connection or possible marriage. He allows that he sometimes succumbs to "the terror of being a sad, lonely old man with no children."

"I've spent an awful lot of my adult life in relationships," he says, "probably two-thirds. I think, after a year or two, that a relationship needs children. Otherwise, it can be quite perilous. That's always going to be a factor. If you choose not to be in a relationship, there's a certain freedom and exhilaration but also lonely moments."

When he's not working, Grant shuns the spotlight, though not always successfully. A 1995 foray with a Los Angeles prostitute named Divine Brown led to his arrest. He's also had run-ins with paparazzi and was arrested in London in 2007 in an incident for which charges were later dropped. It's part of the life that goes with having a famous face, he says.

"People on the whole are very circumspect and nice and leave you alone," he says. "After about 11 p.m., after people have had a few drinks, then the phone cameras come out and life becomes more difficult. I detect a greater sense today among people who feel they own the people they write about. Plus there's such a massive volume of TV, Web sites and magazines. It wasn't that way 14 years ago."

As his 50th birthday approaches (he'll hit the half-century mark next September), Grant brings the same ambivalence to his leisure time that he does to his work: "I feel guilty about all my pleasures," he says. "You don't feel that when you work hard. Because I do so little when I'm between films, I do feel guilty, about my drinking and my golf."

Grant obviously can't get enough golf and still has goals for his game. When he started playing, he longed for a handicap in single figures. He's brought it down to 8, but would like to get to 5 or lower.

"You know you're a sad case when you spend your spare time reading Dave Pelz's putting bible," he says. "I like to go on YouTube when I'm drunk and watch slow-motion golf swings. I'll get out of bed in the middle of the night and practice my swing in front of a mirror, if I think of something.

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