Sunday night’s 95th Academy Awards were blessedly free of scandal and mishap. No celebrity slaps or Best Picture mix-ups or major injustices. No one stripped down to dash across the stage mid-telecast, and poor Andrea Riseborough remains Oscar-less. Those of us who revel in the anything-can-happen nature of live awards shows are left with precious little to mull over today.
Thank the showbiz gods, then, for Hugh Grant. Before the show, the Golden Globe-winning British actor, who recently appeared in a brief but memorable cameo as Daniel Craig’s husband in Glass Onion, gave a red carpet interview for the books!
During ABC’s preshow coverage, model and TV presenter Ashley Graham attempted to have what everyone involved likely expected to be a standard, anodyne chat with the Four Weddings and a Funeral star once described as a professional misanthrope. But Grant, in charmingly rakish form, had exactly zero time for Graham’s harmlessly boring inquiries. It was a masterclass in polite contempt for Hollywood publicity nonsense that deserves a closer look.
The interview seems to start out smoothly enough, with Graham describing Grant as “a veteran of the Oscars.” Except that if you watch Grant closely, he seemingly scoffs at even this statement of fact, giving a little shrug and what may have been a silent laugh.
Graham then asks Grant, “What’s your favorite thing about coming to the Oscars?”
“It’s fascinating. The whole of humanity is here,” Grant’s mouth says. Meanwhile, his face says something along the lines of: “Seriously? I hate coming here! Who cares about a bunch of rich and famous people trussed up like Christmas turkeys? I for one certainly couldn’t be arsed!”
He then compares the Oscars to Vanity Fair, presumably referring to John Bunyan’s 1678 Christian allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, in which a never-ending festival represents man’s frivolous attachment to worldly delights.
Grant’s barbed comparison was lost on poor dear Graham. Bless her, she quite reasonably thought he was talking about Vanity Fair, the magazine which hosts a lavish Oscars after-party every year.
“Oh! It’s all about Vanity Fair!” Graham replied. “That’s where we let loose and have a little bit of fun!”
At which point, Grant’s jaw literally drops, as if to say, “Why the buggery, f**k am I talking to this person? Christ on a crumpet, what am I even doing here?”
Except actually, if we rewind the tape, there was a mischievous glint in the actor’s eyes just after he said the words “Vanity Fair” that makes one suspect he knew exactly what he was doing. Scholars of Oscar history will likely be debating for decades hence whether Grant was actually baiting Graham into this particular gaff:
And it was really all downhill from there. Graham asked Grant if there was anyone he was particularly excited to see that evening.
“To see?” he responded, as if to say, “I don’t want to see any of these people! Who would? Who cares? What is the point of anything happening here tonight?” Hugh Grant doesn’t care about Hollywood! Hugh Grant cares about British politics!
Having established that he was entirely uninterested in which films or performers might take home awards, Graham switched tack, falling back on the tried-and-true red carpet topic of fashion. And, oh god, it went about as well as you might expect.
“What are you wearing tonight, then?” she gamely asked. At which point Grant made this face:
“Just my suit,” he replied.
Graham clarified that she was asking who made his quite standard and unassuming tuxedo.
Grant’s response: “My tailor.” Hugh Grant, everyone: a celebrity who agreed to do an Oscars red carpet interview unprepared to talk about what he was wearing. Truly next-level iconic behavior.
And yet, Graham persisted, veering like a true pro from fashion to Glass Onion: “Tell me, what does it feel like to be in Glass Onion?” she asked.
“I’m barely in it,” Grant said of his brief appearance in Rian Johnson’s cameo-packed Knives Out sequel.
At this point, Graham’s cheerful, poised demeanor seems to begin to crack ever so slightly. “But still, you showed up and you had fun, right?” she asked, while inside we can only assume she was screaming, “HUGH GRANT, YOU DISTINGUISHED BLUE-EYED BASTARD, GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH HERE!!!”
Grant replied that he “almost” had fun.
Defeated, and with her dazzling smile still plastered on, Graham ended the interview. “It was nice to talk to you,” she lied to Hugh Grant, who just said “Yeah,” meaning, probably, “Was it, though?”
Meanwhile, Hugh Grant, a person clearly lacking both a poker face and any tolerance for triviality, looked around in seeming disbelief as if to say, “What the hell just happened? Who is this person? Did anyone else witness this nonsense or am I hallucinating?”
As he sauntered off, he raised his eyebrows pointedly, as if to say, “Good lord, I cannot believe the banality of what I’ve just lived through. Good luck to you all in all your pointless future endeavors. Someone get me a gin and tonic!” And so concluded one of the greatest red carpet interviews of all time. Hopefully, someone has checked on Hugh Grant this morning to make sure that, despairing of humanity, he has not simply walked into the sea.