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Hugh Grant: 8 career-defining roles of The Gentlemen star

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Get ready to start your new year of cinema in style when Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen lands in Cineworld on the 1st of January 2020.

Set in the criminal underworld of London, the Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch filmmaker’s latest project sees blackmail and carnage unfold between London and American drug dealers.

Expect plenty of the director’s signature action and tongue-and-cheek writing alongside a star-studded cast including Henry Golding (Last Christmas), Colin Farrell (The Lobster) and the Oscar-winning Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) as American drug lord Mickey Pearson.

Another actor we can look forward to seeing is the multi-award-winning British icon Hugh Grant. Best known for his bumbling rom-com persona, Grant has shown in the recent likes of Paddington 2 that he’s capable of much more. And in Ritchie’s latest movie, he’s been cast against type as eccentric Cockney criminal Fletcher.

While we wait for The Gentlemen’s arrival, here are eight of Grant’s career-defining roles…

1. Charles – Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

The highest grossing British film at the time of its release, Four Weddings and a Funeral was the surprise hit which saw Grant skyrocket from relative unknown to rom-com stardom.

Directed by Mike Newell and written by Richard Curtis, this two-time Oscar nominated flick follows a group of friends as they traverse – well – four weddings and one funeral. Over the months and years, they each find love – except for bumbling bachelor Charles (Grant), who gradually falls in love with American sweetheart Carrie (Andie McDowell).

Winning himself a BAFTA and Golden Globe, Grant broke hearts all over the world with his charming and hilarious performance.


2. William Thacker – Notting Hill (1999)

With a screenplay penned once again by Richard Curtis, comedy classic Notting Hill saw Grant return to the role of a lovestruck, awkward singleton. He plays bookshop owner William Thacker, who falls head-over-heels for American actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) when she walks into his Notting Hill shop.

After another chance meeting, the pair strike up an endearing connection. However, it soon becomes clear that the glitz and glamour of Anna’s Hollywood lifestyle may not be compatible with the quaint English neighbourhood.

Winning multiple awards and gaining a Golden Globe nomination, Grant is once again a delight to watch, fashioning superb chemistry in his scenes with Roberts.


3. Daniel Cleaver – Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Helen Fielding, who co-wrote the screenplay with – you guessed it – Richard Curtis, Bridget Jones’s Diary follows the year in the life of the titular character (Renée Zellweger, Oscar nominated), as she attempts to improve herself and find the perfect match.

Despite her infatuation with sleazy boss Daniel Cleaver, however, it’s far from a perfect match. Although Cleaver (played with scene-stealing brio by Grant) might come across as a charming, dewey-eyed romancer, don’t let his floppy hair fool you.

Underneath his quick-wittedness, Cleaver is as smug and deceitful as they come – proving there’s an enjoyably malicious side to Grant’s screen persona.


4. Will Freeman – About a Boy (2002)

Adapted by Chris and Paul Weitz from Nick Hornby’s novel, acclaimed comedy About a Boy casts Grant as Will Freeman, a self-entitled, narcissistic and self-described “shallow” man who lies about having an infant son to meet women at single parent groups. Via these questionable means, however, he befriends isolated kid Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), and through their interactions learns to become a better person.

Earning yet another Golden Globe nomination, Grant is at the top of his game delivering a hilarious and heartfelt performance. He also gets to show off his musical ability, too, which is always a bonus.


5. David – Love, Actually (2003)

Seeing as the festive season is upon us, we’re obliged to include holiday favourite Love, Actually on this list. Written and directed by Richard Curtis and starring numerous British greats such as Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Martin Freeman, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Colin Firth (to name just a few), this Christmas comedy interlinks 10 stories that are all about love.

One of these involves Grant as the love-struck British Prime Minister pining for his new secretary Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) on Christmas Eve. Grant gives a performance as delightfully silly as you’d expect, although the highlight has to go to the 10 Downing Street dance to the Pointer Sisters’ ‘Jump’.

Grant later went on record about how much he disliked filming the scene, but it never fails to put a smile on our face every year.


6. Alex Fletcher – Music and Lyrics (2007)

Not to be confused with the Fletcher that Grant is playing in The Gentlemen, Alex Fletcher from Music and Lyrics is a washed-up 1980s pop star. He hails from Wham!-inspired group PoP! and is tasked with composing a hit song for a rising pop star (Hayley Bennett). However, with no gift for lyrics himself, he joins forces with talented writer Sophie (Drew Barrymore).

Even after a decade of playing the stuttering leading man, Grant continued to prove that no one can hit these comic high notes as well as he can. He even took piano and singing lessons for the role, and it showed. We could watch 1980s Hugh Grant all day.


7. St. Clair Bayfield – Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Under the impression that Grant can only do comic roles? Take a look at his moving performance in this factual drama, playing the philandering partner of a New York socialite who's convinced she has operatic abilities.

Meryl Streep is the eponymous Florence, and does a terrific job of acting as someone who sings terribly, but is convinced of their own brilliance. But Grant steals it as the occasionally duplicitous but ultimately loyal Bayfield – if that final scene doesn't break your heart, nothing will.


8. Phoenix Buchanan – Paddington 2 (2017)

The Gentlemen won’t be the first time Hugh Grant has played a villain. He recently took on the role of antagonist Phoenix Buchanan in critically acclaimed Paddington 2, earning himself another BAFTA nomination for his scene-stealing performance.

A once-successful star of the stage, Buchanan is a comically narcissistic master of disguise who steals a valuable pop-up book, consequently framing Paddington (Ben Whishaw) for the crime, as he seeks to locate a vast fortune.

Clearly putting every ounce of his comic talent into the role, Grant is consistently hysterical. And while we’ve praised his musical abilities before, they don’t come close to his full-blown musical sequence at the end of this movie.

The Gentlemen is released on the 1st of January 2020. Tweet us your favourite Hugh Grant roles @Cineworld.

Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.

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