While he holds a firm place as a British national treasure and charmer of the highest order, Hugh Grant can also be a cantankerous old man when he wants to be.
This was realised by the masses earlier this year after a clip of Grant being interviewed by model Ashley Graham at the Oscars went viral. Grant, who was giving Graham absolutely nothing to work with, was heavily criticised for his curmudgeonly behaviour — The Times called him “sullen”, The Washington Post labelled him “curt” and Piers Morgan accused Grant of treating Graham with “total disrespect.” And when Piers Morgan is saying that, you know you’re in deep.
He further reminded Britons of his to-the-point attitude this week when asked about his experience playing an Oompa Loompa in the film Wonka. “I made a big fuss about it,” he told reporters. “I couldn’t have hated the whole thing more.”
His grumpy comments have made headlines yet again — but why was anyone surprised? Grant is a well known grouchball and he’s incredibly aware of this fact. In an interview with Elle in 2009, he told his interviewer pointblank: “I'm grumpy. My mother had a theory about Englishmen: They are permanently all two gin and tonics under par. They need two gin and tonics to become human.”
In 2005 he even took a break from acting after he developed such a “bad attitude” that he wasn’t enjoying his work and was struggling to land roles.
It can cause rifts, too. American talk show host Jon Stewart hates Grant and has called him the “worst guest” to ever grace his show (he appeared on an episode around 2009). But, as always, Grant is self aware. He has apologised to Stewart since, explaining that his “inner crab” came out back when he was due to appear on the show.
This doesn’t meant Grant has got any less grumpy, though — oh no. If he’s one thing, it’s consistent. Need proof? Here are nine of his grumpiest moments.
1. When he told Oprah ‘I really want to shut you up’
Oft times it’s hard to tell if Hugh Grant is being a) genuinely grumpy b) charmingly dry or d) just British. This is one of those instances. After being quizzed by Oprah on some rather personal topics, Grant turns to her and says “I really want to shut you up”. Luckily she responds well, and continues pressing on, which leads Grant to joke that she’s like a “boomerang”.
Unfortunately, things turn from charismatic to rather cruel when he plays word association with Oprah and she starts naming his female co-stars, encouraging responses. Cue the infamous “big mouthed” comment about Julia Roberts — "Very big mouthed! Literally, physically, she has a very big mouth. When I was kissing her I was aware of a faint echo.” Oprah tries to claw it back, saying “[Julia is] one of the nicest people I ever met,” to which Hugh muses: "I wouldn't go that far..." The man can’t help himself.
2. When he admitted to doing a ‘Christian Bale’ on the set of Dungeons & Dragons
Grant recently fell on his sword while addressing his behaviour on set during production of the new Dungeons & Dragons movie, in which he stars. He apparently flew off the handle at a child’s chaperone, who he initially believed to be a studio executive. “I lost my temper with a woman in my eyeline on day one,” Grant told TotalFilm. “I assumed she was some executive from the studio who should have known better. Then it turns out that she’s an extremely nice local woman who was the chaperone of the young girl. Terrible. A lot of grovelling…”
He then added: “I did a Christian Bale,” in reference to the actor’s infamous tantrum in 2009, when the Batman star broke down after a crew member walked into his eyeline during a take.
3. When he was very clear about his Oompa Loompa experience
Once you embrace Grant's grumpiness, this one is really rather funny. When asked about playing an Oompa Loompa in the new film Wonka, alongside Timothée Chalamet, he told reporters frankly: "It was like a crown of thorns, very uncomfortable."
He continued: "I made a big fuss about it. I couldn’t have hated the whole thing more.” He explained his dislike of the role was due to the reliance on CGI, and not knowing whether it was his face or his whole body being captured. “I never received a satisfactory answer,” he said. “And frankly, what I did with my body was terrible, and it’s all been replaced with an animator.”
4. When he refused to play along with Alan Carr
Hugh Grant is not a good chat show guest. It’s not his thing — he doesn’t play along with the theatrics, he hates when interviewers try to lead him down a path or elicit a certain response from him, and he often gives them very little to work with. He does this with Alan Carr in this clip, where Carr tries to encourage Grant into discussing a potential fake sitcom they could film together, and Grant simply says: “No.” Carr persists, saying “I haven’t even finished the sentence,” but Grant says, “You don’t need to.” Once again, this is just Britishness — but Carr is also British. It’s a classic case of bouncy Brit versus sour Brit.
5. All the times he’s talked about how much he hates his Love Actually dancing scene
It may be one of the most beloved scenes in one of the most beloved movies in modern English history, but the man responsible for it absolutely hates it. Hugh Grant has spoken openly about not wanting to do the scene, and none of his other cast members have forgotten his reluctance either. “I do remember him making a terrible fuss about the dance,” Colin Firth said in a talking head for the TV special retrospective Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen. Love Actually director Richard Curtis confirmed this in the TV special too, claiming that Grant kept coming up with excuses to delay filming the scene, doing everything from faking ankle injuries to claiming he needed to “rehearse lines”.
He delayed it so many times that the scene ended up being shot on the final day of production. “Imagine you’re a grumpy 40-year-old Englishman, it’s 7 o’clock in the morning and you’re stone-cold sober…it’s absolute hell,” Grant said of filming the scene.
6. When he was very unfussed by Chris Martin’s adoration
When sat on The Graham Norton Show couch with Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Grant appears distinctly unbothered by the praise that Martin suddenly decides to shower him with half way through the clip. Martin himself then calls Grant “grumpy” and also alleges that Grant has ignored him in previous interactions and instead opted to flirt with Martin’s partner (Gwyneth or Dakota Johnson? Place your bets).
7. When he called out Boris Johnson
If there’s one thing Hugh Grant hates more than chat shows and media intrusion, it’s the Tories. He’s made this explicitly clear several times, but the most notable has to be when he called Boris Johnson an “over-promoted rubber bath toy” back in 2019.
It was in response to Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for a month in September 2019, which meant lawmakers had less time to decide on an appropriate Brexit deal. “You will not f**k with my children's future” Grant wrote on Twitter. “You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend. F**k off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and you little gang of masturbatory prefects.”
8. When he said the production company got too much credit for producing Four Weddings and a Funeral
One of his best. Despite denying any similarities to his Richard Curtis characters time and time again, Hugh Grant is never beating the stammering, sharp and floppy-haired accusations, because this BAFTA speech is straight out of a Curtis script. He gets on stage to accept his BAFTA for Best Actor and gives a brilliant speech, which is tremendously well received by everyone — except the Four Weddings production company, because at one point Grant thanks Duncan Kenworthy for producing the film, “and not getting really quite enough credit”, then turns to Working Title, who he says are “getting a bit too much credit”. The camera pans to some audience members who we can only assume are Working Title execs, and they do not look too happy.
9. When he gave Jon Stewart absolutely nothing
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Hugh Grant is not good on talk shows. One day people will learn. In this very early example of Grant and Stewart’s incompatibility, he is brought onto Stewart’s chat show in 1993 and gives him even less than he gave Ashley Graham at the 2023 Oscars. He tells a story about Andie MacDowell dribbling her coffee, so Stewart recreates it, Hugh barely reacts and the whole thing is just pretty excruciating. Those who struggle with second hand embarrassment, enter with caution.
10. In fact, Liz Hurley’s mates even had a nickname for Hugh’s grouchiness
It’s not technically a Grant grouchiness moment but more a series of moments that were endured by Liz Hurley and her friends, which led to Grant gaining an unfortunate (though evidently quite accurate) nickname. When Hurley, Grant’s long-term ex-girlfriend of 13 years, appeared on Andy Cohen’s show in 2015, talk turned to Grant, who Hurley admitted could be quite annoying during their relationship.
Cohen said he wasn't annoyed by Grant back when he appeared on the show, but he did mention that viewers "thought he was very cranky." "He is,” Hurley responds, “my friends used to call him Grumplestiltskin.” Damning, but apt.