"Two popular movies? It's very unlike me," Hugh Grant said after the 1999 double whammy Notting Hill and Mickey Blue Eyes. "My career is rather like London buses. You wait for four hours. The bus never comes. Then 20 of them come at once."
Hugh John Mungo Grant was born on September 9, 1960, and grew up in an unpretentious middle class suburban home. His father was an Army officer who later retired to retail carpets. Hugh attended Latymer Upper School before attending Oxford on a scholarship in the early Eighties.
After graduating, he took parts in a series of forgettable TV programmes, before meeting aspiring actress Liz Hurley when the two starred together in a Spanish production. "I had an offer to do a serious BBC project," Hugh says. "I couldn't decide between that and this absurd, career-damaging Spanish thing. Then I saw Elizabeth and went for the absurd Spanish film."
The two shot the English-language movie Remando Al Viento in Madrid and spent the next 13 years in a rocky yet resilient relationship before splitting up in May 2000. The two remain close friends and are business partners in the production company, Simian Films. Hugh then went on to date Jemima Khan, former wife of the legendary Pakistani cricketer, embarking on the romance in summer 2004. Despite proclaiming to finally be settled and having a "very nice" life with Jemima, the pair announced their split in February 2007.
Following the success of Four Weddings And A Funeral, which established him on both sides of the Atlantic, Hugh found himself an international celebrity. "I quite enjoyed being famous for the first six months," he says. "I call it the honeymoon period of celebrity. But there is also a downside to fame."
That downside included intense media scrutiny and some unwanted attention. In 1995 Hugh was arrested after police found him indulging in a sex act with American prostitute Divine Brown. And though he soon dropped off the LA scene, his retreat was very much self-imposed. "I probably got more scripts," he says of the period following the Divine Brown affair. "I certainly remember being offered 101 Dalmations two days after."
But Hugh decided against committing to any more middlebrow fare such as the poorly received Nine Months. "I only wanted to make films that I felt really grabbed me," says Hugh, who used the time off to work on both scripts and his self-proclaimed "bad novel". "Hollywood people used to take me aside at dinner parties and say, 'It's all very well being picky, but you can't do this. You are shooting yourself in the foot'."
Hugh defied the laws of Hollywood, however, and returned in 1999 with two blockbusters and a part in the Woody Allen film Small Time Crooks. Bridget Jones's Diary, its sequel, and 2002's About A Boy, based on Nick Hornby's best-selling novel, reaffirmed his A-list status.