'It's a celebration of some of the odd formations that love and family fall into these days,' says the 'Florence Foster Jenkins' star

By Sara Vilkomerson
August 10, 2016 at 04:01 PM EDT
Nick Wall

With this weekend’s Florence Foster Jenkins we finally get — hooray! — Hugh Grant back on the big screen again. And in super fine form, too, delivering the sort of career-altering turn that makes critics swoon and sparks Academy Award speculation. “It was funny and it was sad which is always a promising cocktail. And it was classy,” Grant says of the script. “Even though I was kind of in a phase of my life when I wasn’t doing much show business — or really wanting to — I couldn’t say no to it. I would never have been able to look myself in the eye.”

Set in 1940s New York, Florence Foster Jenkins dramatizes the real-life story of an heiress and socialite, played by Meryl Streep, who believes she’s a talented opera singer despite all evidence to the contrary. Her husband, manager, and chief protector, St. Clair Bayfield (Grant) — dashing and debonair and silkily impossible to ruffle — goes to incredible lengths to indulge his wife’s creative pursuits. But St. Clair is a complicated fellow living a much more complex life that it seems, and the secrets and true intentions within his heart are kept lurking beneath the surface for much of the film. Their union — without spoilers — is an unconventional one.

“We all have this idea of the ideal I-would-throw-myself-under-a-train-for-you selfless love,” Grant says. “I think that’s extremely rare. Very often it’s all mixed up. It’s what attracted me to the whole project.… It’s a celebration of some of the odd formations that love and family fall into these days.”

 

For more on Hugh Grant and Florence Foster Jenkins, pick up Entertainment Weekly‘s Fall Movie Preview, on newsstands Friday — and subscribe now for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW. 

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  • Movie
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  • PG-13
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  • 110 minutes
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