Hugh Grant’s Oscar interview with Ashley Graham highlights culture clash


LONDON – British actor Hugh Grant’s unconventional approach to typical red carpet chat at the Oscars sparked a fierce debate about whether he was rude. Some Britons claim: He was just British.

Grant went viral online for his evasive answers in a short interview with the model Ashley Graham, in an ensemble baptized on social media as “deliciously awkward”, as she struggled to engage the “Notting Hill” star.

Asked by an upbeat Graham who he was most “excited” to see win an Oscar, Grant curtly replied, “No one in particular.” Graham shifted the focus to fashion and pointedly asked what designer he was wearing. “Just my suit,” Grant said, stunned. Graham bravely persisted and asked who made it. “I don’t remember. My tailor,” added Grant.

Graham then engaged the veteran actor in conversation about the Netflix whodunit movie “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” Grant downplayed his role: “Well, I’m barely in it. I’m in it for about three seconds.”

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Although Grant, who has been acting since the 1980s, is no stranger to these Hollywood events – the exchange was not at all surprising in Britain, where part of the social fabric is to avoid bragging, talking too much about oneself or even admitting what fun you have. Discussing expensive designer brands? A gross faux pas.

“American Twitter is so angry that Hugh Grant gives an interview that would be perfectly normal at any British event,” said a viewer who defends Grant’s behavior.

“Hugh Grant doesn’t mean to be rude here, but that’s what it feels like to be British and confronted by absurdly enthusiastic American extroverts,” another said.

Perhaps nothing encapsulated that more than Graham’s follow-up about Grant’s brief appearance in “Glass Onion.” “But still you showed up and you had fun, didn’t you?” she continued. “Almost,” Grant replied as the interview drew to a painful close.

British humor — from sketch comedy troupe Monty Python to dry-witted actor Ricky Gervais — has often been viewed as “quirky, sarcastic and self-deprecating,” Sarita Malik, a professor of media and culture at Brunel University London, said in an interview Tuesday . Much of it has crossed over to audiences in the United States with “great success.”

But Grant’s red carpet interview “is a classic case of different senses of humor shaking and being interpreted differently,” Malik said.

Grant, she added, had made a career out of “playing up to this idea of ​​quintessential Britishness. His persona is a typical mixture of genteel charm and grouchiness.”

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Another culture clash came when Graham asked Grant about his favorite thing about attending the Academy Awards.

“It’s fascinating. All mankind is here – it’s Vanity Fair,” he said, referring to British writer William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1847 novel, which satirizes rampant ego, class and consumerism.

“Oh, it’s all about Vanity Fair, yeah, that’s where we let loose and have a little fun,” Graham nods in agreement, assuming Grant is talking about the famous Oscar after-party that Condé Nast -magazine is hosted by

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The clip has been viewed thousands of times across social media with reactions from Americans and Brits.

It was “kind of pretentious of him to make the reference in this context,” an unimpressed viewer said.

Others questioned why Grant had bothered to attend or be interviewed if he had such disdain for the event.

“I don’t get this from Hugh Grant. If you don’t want to be interviewed, don’t take the mic, smile politely and keep walking. Kudos to Ashley Graham for repeatedly trying to get something interesting out of him ,” another said.

Molly Geidel, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Manchester, said Grant’s response to the cheerful Graham was inherently British. “In my experience, one of the things that unites most Brits is a disdain for the slick service-with-a-smile American work culture,” said Geidel, who grew up in Vermont before moving to England.

“Until recently, people here in the UK prided themselves on not having to perform feigned happiness, or what we sometimes call affective labour,” she added.

Some online in the US applauded Graham’s efforts.

“I’m very sorry that Hugh Grant was so incredibly disrespectful and rude to you. I applaud you for keeping your cool,” a Graham admirer tweeted. “She really took the hits and kept getting up and going. Mad respect,” another said.

Graham himself was asked about the interview Monday by a TMZ photographer at the airport, saying, “You know what? My mom taught me to kill people with kindness, so there you go.”

Malik suggested that Grant’s critical relationship with the media might have been on display during the interaction.

Grant has become a vocal campaigner for a more responsible press in recent years, backing UK advocacy group Hacked off after he was one of many high-profile victims to have his phone hacked by tabloid journalists.

Undeterred, Graham ended the interview cheerfully.

“It was nice talking to you,” she told Grant with a smile — a performance some commentators have said should earn her a best actress award.

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