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Elizabeth Hurley Recalls the ‘Very Surprising’ Controversy Over Her Iconic Versace Gold Safety Pin Dress in 1994

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 10: Elizabeth Hurley attends the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's Hot Pink Party at The Glasshouse on May 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
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Elizabeth Hurley knows her acting niche.

“I normally play manipulative, cunning, morally bankrupt people,” she tells me on this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast.

The actor, model and producer says it all began with 2000’s “Bedazzled” when she played the devil opposite Brendan Fraser, and continued with a stint on the original “Gossip Girl” and then her starring role as the queen of England on E!’s “The Royals.” And in Marvel’s “The Runaways” on Hulu, she played supervillain Morgan le Fay.

“We like to think it’s charming evil, as opposed to just stab you in the eyeball with a pencil evil,” Hurley says.

But she’s taken a turn to the lighter side of things with her new rom-com, “Christmas in the Caribbean.” She stars as a London theater critic whose fiancé ditches her at the altar, so she brings her two best gal pals on what would have been their tropical honeymoon. There, Hurley’s character finds love with an Italian chef. “She’s nice. She’s not angry or manipulative,” Hurley says. “She’s like a wounded, really decent person. And I’ve never played that part before. It was quite challenging in a way because she’s just nice.”

Hurley’s wedding dress in the movie was provided by Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer Elizabeth Emanuel. “I thought, ‘You know what? We’re making this sweet, charming, romantic Christmas movie. What could be more romantic than using the dress designer of the late Princess of Wales?’” Hurley says.

Speaking of dresses, I asked Hurley to look back almost 30 years ago when she was Hugh Grant’s girlfriend and wore that iconic gold safety pin Versace dress to the 1994 premiere of “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” Funny to think about it now, but the gown caused quite the controversy — and catapulted Hurley to worldwide fame — because critics deemed it too revealing.

“Hugh and I lived together in a tiny little one-bedroom flat without a full-length mirror, so I hadn’t even seen the [full] dress until I saw it on the papers the next day,” she recalls. “But of course, people also didn’t know that his movie was going to be a sensation. We were completely and utterly clueless. So the next day when the papers went demented, both about the movie and, bizarrely, about my dress, it was very surprising to both of us. But, of course, we’re both very grateful for both those things happening.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 11: British actress Elizabeth Hurley attends the post-premiere party of her boyfriend Hugh Grant’s latest film, “Four Weddings And A Funeral” on May 11, 1994 in London, England.. (Photo by Dave Benett/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Getty Images

During our chat on the podcast, Hurley also talks about staying on good terms with her exes, remembers her first audition when she was just 21 years old and her hope of reuniting with Marvel — but this time, on the big screen.

“I love Marvel,” Hurley says. “I’d love to do it, but I know they’ll have me in a catsuit. I mean, for Morgan le Fay, I was in a catsuit for almost all of it. I seem to be destined to always squeezing myself into a catsuit. ‘Runaways’ was a one-off. It was just one season, but I wouldn’t mind being a supervillain.”

You can hear the full conversation with Hurley above, or listen to “Just for Variety” wherever you find your favorite podcasts.