It looks like Hugh Grant was right – writer and filmmaker Richard Curtis has agreed that he didn’t want him to star in hit 1994 comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral.
But it wasn’t the fact that he was too “hoity-toity posh”, as Grant assumed – he was just too dreamy.
“The absolutely key thing for that film when I was writing it was that the person who was playing the lead would not be good looking,” Curtis explained to laughs from the crowd at the Cheltenham literature festival yesterday evening. “That was the absolute starting thesis of the film.”
“So when finally we’d auditioned every single young person in the country and we were voting, me, Mike [Newell, the director] and Duncan [Kenworthy, producer], two people voted for Hugh – that was them. And I voted for someone else.”
The actor had addressed the topic himself on the Graham Norton show on Friday, saying “Richard Curtis did everything in his power to stop me getting the part after the audition.”
“I think they wanted someone rather more middle of the road and thought I was too hoity-toity posh…But I got the part in the end because I don’t think they could find anyone else!”
When Curtis was asked what would be different if Grant hadn’t landed the role the writer deadpanned: “Hugh would be less rich and more happy.”
“No, I think he was always going to be unhappy, just in a different way.”
In his talk (which he shared with musician Mike Scott), Curtis also addressed Four Weddings’ infamous closing line – “Is it still raining, I hadn’t noticed” – which has drawn derision since it first appeared on screen (and was re-enacted by Grant and Graham Norton on Friday).
Apparently, however, the blame might not lie with Curtis at all but his then office-mate – the late academy award-winning writer/director Anthony Minghella.
“I’ve got a feeling Anthony Minghella wrote that line – but seeing as how it’s the worst line in the film, that may be me simply trying to get out of trouble, said Curtis.
A likely story – but Curtis has his reasons for believing it. “His first TV series was called ‘What if it stops raining?’ – that’s what’s always made me suspicious,” he mused.
He added: “The great thing about people being dead, is that you can say anything you like about them.”