And the next prime minister of Great Britain will be… Hugh Grant!
Okay, maybe not.
However, Grant says he has entertained the idea of running for office. “I have thought about it a bit to be honest,” Grant says in this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast.
The 58-year-old actor knows his way around politics after being on the forefront of the battle against British tabloids that regularly bugged his and other celebrities’ phones. His anti-hacking campaign uncovered cozy relationships that elected officials had with press barons, including Rupert Murdoch.
He even has an campaign slogan. “My main slogan would be, ‘I Don’t Want to Be Reelected.’ It seems to me that the desire to be reelected or be a career politician poisons everything,” Grant said.
While Grant says he “gets incandescently angry” watching today’s political news, the chances of him actually running are pretty slim. “My cupboards are full of skeletons,” he said, laughing. “There’s so much muckraking that could go on. I could take it. I’ve been taking it now for a long time, but I’m not sure I want my family to suffer that. It’s not really about me. It’s about my family.” (In a twist of events, Grant has become friends with many of the men who hacked him — they’re even invited to his yearly birthday party thrown by the Grant-funded not-for-profit Hacked Off Campaign.)
The only votes Grant is looking for these days are those for an Emmy. He’s nominated for the first time for his work as the late British politician Jeremy Thorpe in Amazon’s “A Very English Scandal.” Thorpe was a liberal member of Parliament in the 1960s when he began an affair with a 21-year-old stable boy, who apparently threatened to expose their relationship after Thorpe broke things off and refused to continue paying his rent. Thorpe was eventually put on trial, but found not guilty, for conspiring to have his former lover killed.
“To me one of the most English things about it is that it’s just so amateur-ish,” Grant said. “This man is trying to kill another man or trying to take a hit out on another man. If he was American, he’d get it done properly.”
“A Very English Scandal” is a full circle moment of sorts. Grant first received attention for his acting in 1987 in the James Ivory and Ismail Merchant adaptation of the E.M. Forster novel “Maurice,” playing a closeted gay man who marries a woman in early 20th century England. Despite the gay storyline and the movie being made at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Grant says he was never advised to pass on the role. At the time, he was a struggling actor writing radio commercials for Red Stripe lager and Mighty White bread. He was close to giving up his acting dreams when his brother convinced him to go on the audition. “Certainly, no one ever said, ‘Oh, be careful — it’s a gay role,’” Grant said. “That never happened. I think my parents were perhaps momentarily startled when I was the front cover of [gay porn magazine] Zipper when the film came out. I was a little startled myself because I didn’t remember doing any shoot for it.”
Next up for Grant is HBO’s “The Undoing,” a limited series based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel “You Should Have Known” with Nicole Kidman. He also plays a private detective working for a seedy newspaper in Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentleman” about a British drug lord who sells his marijuana empire to an Oklahoman billionaire.
And then there’s what could have been. Grant was offered and wanted to play the role of a villain in an upcoming superhero movie. “There was a scheduling and family issue,” Grant said. “Otherwise, I was absolutely up for it.”
He added, “It was a juicy role. It was a baddie. I love a good baddie.”
For more of my interview with Grant, check out the full episode of the “Big Ticket” below and at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Find out who made him so starstruck recently that he “nearly fainted” when they shook hands and why he prefers watching car racing and women’s tennis over movies and television dramas.