Friday, January 29, 2021
On stage he’s a loveable, floppy-haired prince charming. Off camera – well let’s just say he needs a lot of personal space. He hates being a celebrity. He resents being an actor. To his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley's friends he was apparently known as ‘Grumpelstiltskin.’
Hugh Grant may be famed for being moody and a little challenging to work with. But could a grumpy attitude be the secret to his success?
The pressure to be positive has never been greater. Cultural forces have whipped up a frenzied pursuit of happiness, spawning billion-dollar book sales, a cottage industry in self-help and plastering inspirational quotes all over the internet.
Now you can hire a happiness expert, undertake training in ‘mindfulness’, or seek inner satisfaction via an app. The US army currently trains its soldiers – over a million people – in positive psychology and optimism is taught in UK schools. Meanwhile the ‘happiness index’ has become an indicator of national wellbeing to rival GDP.
The truth is, pondering the worst has some clear advantages. Cranks may be superior negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and cut their risk of having a heart attack. Cynics can expect more stable marriages, higher earnings and longer lives – though, of course, they’ll anticipate the opposite.
Ha! I knew it. Actually I have a distant connection to Hugh Grant. I had the opportunity to play a bit part in a student movie called "Privileged" made by my friend Mike Hoffman at Oxford in 1979 or so. He wanted me to play a young don with a moon face who was wearing a Mickey Mouse hat at a costume party. I declined. But I would have met the young Hugh Grant who played the male lead. Mike currently lives in London with an I'm sure attractive opera singer, having made several movies you would have heard of if you follow movies at all, while I am just a grumpy and bad-tempered professor.