The affable Brit turns nasty in Paul Weitz's spoof of American Idol

Hugh Grant spoke to the New York press recently for the sociopolitical satire, American Dreamz. He stars as Martin Tweed, a vapid and selfish Simon Cowell-esque character who thrives on humiliating others. Hugh's definitely got the affable and unassuming Briton down pat. We didn't have him for very long, so here's a more condensed than usual interview. Let's call this Hugh Grant lite.

You seem to have such a low profile lately, like you are ready to sort of retire from movies. Do you care about career at this point in your life?

Hugh Grant: Yes, I haven't done very much work. I did slightly lose interest, but then I got bored. I got bored with being bored so I am back. In fact, I start another film tomorrow which I know you will like because I play an eighties pop star. You get to see me sing and dance. It's called "Music and Lyrics"; at the moment that's a working title.

People will think you are doing Simon Cowell from "American Idol". Do you know him? Did you think of him when you were doing this?

Hugh Grant: I have met him at a couple of parties. I don't know him at all and this part is not particularly based on him aside from the fact that I am a judge on a talent show that's massively popular and I am very cruel. There the resemblance stops. The part really is a creation of Paul Weitz [the director] and his warped vision of me.

Were you a fan of "American Idol"? Had you even seen it before this film?

Hugh Grant: I had never seen the show before I did this film. Then I watched a bunch of tapes. I enjoy cruelty. I like people being humiliated. I like watching freaks. The freakier the better as far as I am concerned. I think in a way the show doesn't go far enough. I would quite like to see the losers tortured.

And the winners?

Hugh Grant: Yes, especially the winners. It's very fascinating. I think in a way it is very much a return to ancient Rome and watching Christians being fed to the lions. It's also that gene that is within some people. However much you play it down and try to deny it, you want to be in the limelight. That's what all these tragic characters on "American Idol" obviously have. It's particularly enjoyable to see that in someone when they don't have the talent to match it, so I totally understand the appeal.

You worked with Paul and his brother, Chris, on About a Boy. What it's like working with Paul alone.

Hugh Grant: They were sinisterly seamless as a pair. My personal theory is that they were in fact Siamese twins joined at the head that have been very cunningly separated. The only thing that is slightly different with Paul from Chris is that he gives six good notes and then one really appalling note that is un-actable. I particularly enjoyed watching some of the actors that hadn't worked with him before getting the seventh note and looking really perplexed and miserable. [Laughs]

Would you ever host a reality show?

Hugh Grant: I have always had a secret desire to be on television. I like reality shows. I am a particular fan of one in England, "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here". That's sort of how I feel right now. If it wasn't beneath my dignity, I'd be doing lots of them. In fact, I tried to persuade Colin Firth to do a celebrity wrestling match with me for "Comic Relief" a couple of years ago; but he was afraid. Not physically, but I think he was afraid of becoming aroused.

American Dreamz comes to theaters everywhere this Friday, April 21st, and is rated PG-13.

Julian Roman at Movieweb
Julian Roman