Hugh Grant as the Ideal Leading Man/Doormat

Everything about a person can be told from their mug shot. Case in point: Hugh Grant. Sheepish, embarrassed and utterly self-loathing. This expression explains everything that is so great about him as a leading man. In real life, such a male would never be able to attract the likes of Julia Roberts, Renee Zellweger, Sandra Bullock or Drew Barrymore

So ashamed
So ashamed
.
His self-effacing nature makes him the perfect counterpart to a more vivacious, more physically appealing woman. Notting Hill is perhaps the pinnacle of this concept. As the reticent owner of a travel bookshop in Notting Hill, Will (Grant) is all too eager to please any woman who pays him the slightest bit of attention. Somehow, world-famous actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) happens to be one of the few women to notice him. Whether it’s a combination of her freaky deaky desire to want to rough it with a civilian or her genuine attraction to him, there’s something about dating a “nice guy” (read: doormat you can control) that’s all too alluring.
As the dopey Will in Notting Hill
As the dopey Will in Notting Hill
As for other films in which Grant plays more of a douche bag (e.g. Small Time Crooks, Bridget Jones’ Diary, etc.), it’s never really all that convincing. He’s more believable when either playing an utter pushover or a happy medium between this and someone in a position of power who can’t enjoy that power to its fullest, as was the case for his role as prime minister in Love, Actually or the rich and self-consumed George Wade in Two Weeks Notice.
As the prime minister in Love, Actually
As the prime minister in Love, Actually
It’s just something about that obsequious, apologetic look in his eye that makes Grant rife for the role of doomed to be broken-hearted leading man. I suppose this definitely came to fruition around 1995 (following his success in 1994 with Four Weddings and a Funeral as the unlucky in love Charles), after his dubious dalliance with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown. Hence, the telling mug shot that would reveal his entire persona with a single expression. Though maybe at least part of it was knowing he was going to lose then girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley.

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  1. Pingback: Guy Ritchie, The Man From Hatfield, Gives Us The Man From U.N.C.L.E. | Culled Culture

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