The 60-year-old English actor shed his good guy persona for The Undoing, HBO's new psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, the creator of Big Little Lies. He plays Jonathan Fraser, a New York City oncologist who seems to have it all—until he and his wife Grace (Nicole Kidman) are at the center of a looming murder mystery.
The whodunnit style series also stars Donald Sutherland, Edgar Ramirez, Lily Rabe, Matilda De Angelis, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Noma Dumezweni and 15-year-old Noah Jupe, who plays Grant's son. Speaking to E! News, Grant recently opened up about taking on the role of a man who's just as charismatic as he is troubled.
"That was the appeal of the character, really," Grant said. "The metaphor I always use for him was that he should seem like a lovely, well washed, well worn cotton shirt that's very comfortable. And then you suddenly start saying, hang on, is there a bit of viscose in this? Is this just too good to be true? Is something not quite real or right here?"
Grant shared that to really tap into Jonathan's mind, he dove right into the real-life world of high-profile New York physicians—the kind who have that "viscose" he described.
"I did some research and I met a lot of New York doctors," he said. "And one in particular I thought, 'Oh, you, yes, you.' Because he was very good looking. He was very well dressed. He was extremely charming. He was a great doctor. And I thought, 'There's something very creepy about you. You're too good to be true.'"
Separately, Grant shared his favorite moment with the cast, who filmed on location in New York City way before the coronavirus pandemic. "I enjoyed the last day very much. It was a very long shoot, six months," he said. "That's the last time I remember being truly happy. I was thinking, ‘Oh wow, I'm exhausted. This is over.' I remember giving everyone cigars including young Noah, who played my son. He was thrilled, but his mother was less thrilled."
Cigars courtesy of Hugh Grant? We'd proudly save and display 'em on a shelf.
Earlier this month, Grant revealed that he and his wife Anna Eberstein battled the coronavirus after experiencing symptoms in February. "It started as just a very strange syndrome where I kept breaking into terrible sweat," he said on The Late Show. "It was like a poncho of sweat, embarrassing really. Then my eyeballs felt about three sizes too big and this...a feeling as though an enormous man was sitting on my chest, Harvey Weinstein or someone."
Luckily, Grant and his family are now much better—and probably anticipating the second half of The Undoing like the rest of us.