Hugh Grant, About a Boy

He’s a rich, selfish, lazy, jobless, single guy,” says Grant of his character, Will Freeman. ”And he’s proud of it.” Not a role that screams lovable leading man, but Grant has played the cad very successfully lately (see ”Bridget Jones’s Diary”) — and this is a cad he’s wanted to play for years. The actor has always been attached to Nick Hornby’s 1998 best-seller, about a 36-year-old trust-fund brat who befriends a 12-year-old boy (Hoult) while trying to pick up single moms. ”I related quite strongly to being slack, which I think came from my long years in underemployment,” says Grant. ”We’re in the age of the slacker. With all the magazines, movies, and television shows. It’s heaven.”

He tapped Chris and Paul Weitz (”American Pie”) to shoot the film in North London, and together they found his costar Hoult, a 12-year-old novice who bears little resemblance to a Hollywood imp. Of course, none of this could end up mattering much. Checking the calendar, you’ll see that Universal has slated ”Boy” opposite ”Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” (The last unlucky strip of celluloid to go mano a mano with ”Star Wars” — Kate Capshaw’s ”The Love Letter” — ended up grossing only $8.3 million.)

”It’s pretty bracing,” says Chris Weitz. ”I feel like an X-wing fighter pilot. I’m not saying that we’re going to blow up the Death Star, but I’m hoping that we hold our own against the spacecrafts and Jar Jar Binks and what-have-you.” Adds his brother, ”Uh, if it helps at all, Hugh’s entire performance was done with models and animatronic puppets.”

About a Boy
  • Movie
  • 100 minutes