EW: You’ve spoken a number of times about giving up acting, yet here you are, back for your third collaboration with director Marc Lawrence. Is he so irresistible?
Hugh Grant: I feel foolish having said so often, ”Oh, I don’t want to do any more.” And then I always do. I realize how ridiculous that makes me look. But the reason in this case is very few scripts make me laugh.
EW: What makes you feel like you want to quit the business?
Grant: I like everything about filming except the acting. I’m wonderful in rehearsals, but I’ve never been very good when they actually switch the cameras on. In recent years, I’ve had really bad attacks where I totally freeze up. I thought, ”Well, if I’m going to get stage fright, then I’m packing it in.” It’s doing full-out comedy that makes me particularly nervous.
EW: Did you enjoy shooting in the American Southwest?
Grant: New Mexico was fantastic. I listened to nothing but country & western. And now I’m horrifying all my chic London friends. The only one I’m allowed to listen to is Johnny Cash. Apparently he’s okay. But I like hillbilly — beat that for uncool!
EW: Marc made you sing and dance in Music and Lyrics. What did you endure in this movie?
Grant: I had a memorable scene with an eight-foot grizzly bear called Bart who was more of a prima donna than either me or Sarah Jessica. He wouldn’t come out of his trailer until he had 12 cans of iced tea and had been hosed down from head to foot. And then the crew had to applaud and say, ”Yay, Bart, you’re so great!” Sarah Jessica and I got jealous, so the crew had to do that for us as well. And if the bear was doing particularly well, its trainer would wrestle him on the floor in this crazy, wrestle-y cuddle. So I made Marc do that to me if I ever did a scene well.
EW: He never mentioned that. Maybe he thought you’d be shy about it.
Grant: I’m not shy — I’m proud of it! And also, Bart was very close to me — within touching distance, actually. So I think I was extraordinarily brave to do those scenes. I’d like you to know that. I’d like everyone to know how brave I was.