Hugh Grant almost lost out on his star-making role in Four Weddings And A Funeral to Alan Rickman as writer Richard Curtis thought he was “a bit posh”.
Hugh played foppish ladies’ man Charles in the beloved 1994 romantic comedy, and utilised his bumbling upper-class persona in several subsequent movies, including another of Richard’s comedies, Notting Hill.
According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the 61-year-old writer was keen to go in another direction when it came to casting Charles, but was overruled by the film’s director Mike Newell and others.
“We auditioned 70 people,” the Love Actually filmmaker said in a discussion led by his daughter Scarlett Curtis at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in England. “Eventually it was down to Hugh and Alan Rickman and I went for Alan but I was outvoted. I just thought Hugh was a bit annoying, too good looking, a bit posh. I was right about all of those things but he is also very good.”
Although Hugh, 58, was a relative unknown before being cast in Four Weddings, Alan, who died in 2016 aged 69, was already an established star, known for his villainous roles as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Those who outvoted Richard made the right choice however, as the film grossed more than $245 million on a budget of less than $4 million, and Hugh won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
The screenwriter and director also revealed that Hugh’s segment from his ensemble romcom Love Actually, in which the star played a British Prime Minister who falls for a member of his household staff, was supposed to be a stand-alone movie.
“The Hugh one I had an idea for a long time ago and you would have seen him coming into power and issues around that,” he explained, adding that another subplot from the film, featuring British actor Kris Marshall as a hapless man who finds love on holiday in America after being dumped by his girlfriend, was also originally the basis for a full-length feature.