Hugh Grant Compares ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ Director Stephen Frears to Woody Allen and Ang Lee

'Florence Foster Jenkins' film premiere, New York
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Chandeliers hung from the white tarp tent covering the “Florence Foster Jenkins” red carpet during the film’s New York premiere at the AMC Loews on Tuesday night.

While the film’s titular star, Meryl Streep sped by the press line, her co-star Hugh Grant spoke about his relationship with Stephen Frears, the British director who has led such Oscar-nominated films as “Philomena” and “The Queen.”

“He and I used to get together and show each other scripts and say, ‘Do we like this?’ And we’d convince ourselves we did and then chicken out at the last moment,” Grant said. “But this time we followed through.”

Grant added that he expected Frears to be a hands-on director, but he turned out to be the exact opposite.

“Whatever question I asked him in pre-production he would say ‘I don’t know. You decide,'” he recalled. “He reminded me in that way of other very well-known directors I’ve been lucky enough to work with — Woody Allen never speaks; Ang Lee doesn’t say much. Maybe it’s a sign of greatness.”

Frears also attended the premiere along with star Nina Arianda, and special guests Kelly Rutherford and Regis Philbin, among others.

Simon Helberg, who plays fidgety pianist Cosme McMoon in the film, joked about working with Streep and Grant. “Thank God for IMDbPRO,” he said. “Very high star meters, these two.”

Screenwriter Nicholas Martin said he penned the lead with Streep in mind. “In my head, I couldn’t really have imagined the film without her,” he said. “I was writing for her.”

After the screening, which played with no formal introduction from the cast or creators, everyone moved to the after-party at Brasserie 8 1/2 in Midtown. There, guests feasted on a buffet that included Jenkins’ signature potato salad. Streep, Grant, and the rest of the cast entered through a side door and mingled with the crowd late into the night.