The Undoing’s Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman on why they jumped at the chance for “classic thriller” scripts

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant tell Adam Tanswell about their upcoming thriller The Undoing, and how they switch off from the "unputdownable" scripts.

The Undoing's Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman

Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman have teamed up for new Sky Atlantic and HBO series, The Undoing.

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The pair play husband and wife Jonathan and Grace Fraser, who are wealthy New York parents about to be caught up in a disturbing crime.

Over the course of six episodes, the series will unveil the real events of that dreadful night as the picture-perfect life in the Fraser household slowly falls apart…

Radio Times caught up with The Undoing cast stars Grant and Kidman about their new series, and unwinding with a good episode of Antiques Roadshow.

Hugh, for years you played hapless, lovelorn Englishmen, but now you’ve turned to serious roles. Are your romcom days behind you?

I got too old and ugly for romantic comedies, but I feel like I’ve been able to spread my wings a little with roles in films like Cloud Atlas, Florence Foster Jenkins and Paddington 2. I really enjoy acting now. I always used to sit in press conferences and say, “If you want deep and dark, get Ralph Fiennes.” My role in The Undoing is pretty deep and dark – and it’s been fun to give it a go. A new challenge for me. 

Did you need much persuading?

The scripts were unputdownable, which is incredibly rare. Generally speaking, I nap soundly while reading scripts – but these were riveting. They also came with a very classy package of talent: Nicole Kidman, Susanne Bier [The Night Manager director] and David E Kelley [creator of Big Little Lies]. I realised I was going to have to go to work, which is something I always dread.

Have you worked with Nicole Kidman before?

Never. Though we’ve both tried to murder Paddington. In many ways, The Undoing could be viewed as a Paddington origin story. But I’ve known Nicole, a little, for 25 years. We’re always bumping into each other. I’ve always felt strangely comfortable with her. Maybe it’s the Commonwealth? To be honest, I was slightly intimidated to work with her. She’s a genius. It was a bit like when I did Florence Foster Jenkins with Meryl Streep. These girls know what they’re doing. But at heart, Nicole is a silly Aussie girl with a great sense of humour.

Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman star in The Undoing
Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman star in The Undoing
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How do you look back on your romcom roles from the past?

Look, I’m proud of most of those romantic comedies because they worked and they entertained people. I’m not going to diss them. They are not idiotic, or the vast majority of them are not idiotic. However, I certainly felt I had done enough of them and I’m glad I’m not doing them any more.

In 2018 you played Jeremy Thorpe in the BBC One drama A Very English Scandal. How much do you enjoy working in television now?

My initial reaction was one of horror; the idea of having to lower myself for television. [Laughs] But I actually enjoy it because it’s fast. I grind my teeth on film sets. Films can be painfully slow to shoot.

What TV shows do you watch at home?

I love sport on TV. I watch a little tennis and motor racing. And Antiques Roadshow.

Do you like to unwind by playing sport? Or going to an antiques market?

I’m glad to say that my golf addiction has been treated and is finally over, but it became really serious for a while. For 12 years, golf was my number one priority in life. It was like crack. I remember going to play golf for the very first time and I instantly thought, “I have got to get better at this.” I poured 12 years down the drain. Now, I’m addicted to tennis. My wife [Swedish-born TV producer Anna Eberstein] is a very good tennis player.

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Keeeeeep Dancing… This week's cover is a Strictly special – cue the razzmatazz! See inside the issue for the 7 page spread, photographed exclusively for Radio Times and devoted to Strictly Come Dancing, and find out more about each of the 12 contestants. Also inside this week's issue: Hugh Grant on new series The Undoing, co-starring @nicolekidman; an exclusive interview with @russelltovey ahead of The Sister; the battle for daytime television as the BBC introduce new morning show, Morning Live; and an interview with artist Maggi Hambling on her latest venture to save the polar bears. All this and more inside this week's Radio Times, available now…. Link in our bio for how to get your copy. . . . Cover illustarted by Ian Mckinnell Strictly Come Dancing feature photographed by @nealehaynes ???? #radiotimes #radiotimescover #strictly #strictlycomedancing #hughgrant #nicolekidman #theundoing #russeltovey #thesister #morninglive #itv #bbc #lorrainekelly #kymmarsh #maggihambling

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You’re a family man now, and you play a father in The Undoing. How much has fatherhood changed you?

I’m trying to be a young father in an old man’s body and it’s rough, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s just damned nice, isn’t it? You need a family. I get that now.

What are you like as a father?

At some point, you turn into your own father. You don’t realise you’re doing it, but you do. I bark in exactly the same way that he barks at me. I make a ridiculous grimace when I’m doing very easy tasks, just like him. Stylistically, I’m probably more like my mother than my father. As children, she was quite silly with us with lots of silly voices. I do that with my children, but I’m not sure they enjoy it. They roll their eyes half the time.

Do you enjoy fatherhood?

Anyone with young children would probably agree that it’s simultaneously the worst time in your life and the best. On a day-to-day basis, as you tread on another broken toy with a hangover, it’s just awful. But when you look back at the photographs on your iPhone, you realise, “Oh, I have been extremely happy. This is very nice.”

Do you take photos on your iPhone all the time?

Oddly enough, I left my phone in my hotel room when I worked on The Undoing. I hate my phone. For the first time in ages, I spent 14 blissful hours at work without it. It was like being in 1994 again. Between set-ups, I studied my lines, I read a book or I talked to people.

It was really nice. Phones are terrible things. They are toxic. I think they’re killing us.

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Nicole, what was the reason you became involved with The Undoing?

I was given the first two scripts by David E Kelley [the creator of Big Little Lies, in which Kidman starred] and was instantly hooked. I love the fact that The Undoing is a classic thriller with lots of cliffhangers. It keeps you guessing until the very end.

What’s Hugh Grant like to work with?

He’s incredibly experienced, but he has a way of making everything look easy. Hugh can make me giggle like almost nobody else can.

When did you first meet?

I’ve known him socially since my early 20s. We have mutual friends and a lot of things in common. I remember going to dinner with Hugh when he was with Liz Hurley. At the time, I was doing The Blue Room [at London’s Donmar Warehouse], but I’d first met him before he did Four Weddings and a Funeral, when he was up and coming.

Hugh describes you as silly. Are you?

I think I’ve always been silly and funny, but mostly in the privacy of my own home. I was pretty shy when I was younger. I guess the silliness comes with age and thinking, “OK, I can be more myself now.”

First Look
Nicole Kidman in The Undoing

How would you describe Hugh?

Hugh has the sharpest wit and a love/hate relationship with acting. His interest in acting ebbs and flows – but right now, he really loves it again. He came in very prepared and I loved his ability to map out a character. There’s this constant back and forth in the

show about whether you believe him or not. He’s worked out the machinations of the psychological trajectory of who he is, what he is and why. 

You’ve had lots of movie and television husbands. Who’s the best?

You can’t ask me that! I can’t kiss and tell. Listen, I have favourite projects, but I don’t think I have a favourite husband. That’s because I have my own husband, my Keith [Urban].

I have to be very careful here. I think I’ve been lucky that some of the greatest actors in the world have been willing to act opposite me. I’m very fortunate with that, but then I get to go home to my man; my real husband.

Speaking of family… What do you enjoy the most about motherhood?

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Kids push you outside of your comfort zone. They make you do things you don’t want to do and I’m grateful for that. The introvert part of me prefers an intimate dinner, but the children want to go to big events. They push me in a good way.

This interview originally appeared in the Radio Times magazine. For the biggest interviews and the best TV listings subscribe to Radio Times now and never miss a copy. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.