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Hugh Grant on the Rom-Com Resurgence: ‘I Didn’t Know It Was Happening’

For countless fans of the romantic comedy, Hugh Grant will always be just a boy standing in front of a girl. But speaking with IndieWire for his single-episode guest appearance as Ed Keplinger in HBO’s “The Regime,” the 63-year-old British actor seemed blissfully out of touch with the genre that launched his stardom.

When asked about Hollywood’s rom-com resurgence, Grant said, “I didn’t know there was one. What should I watch?”

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Since the summer that brought us “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” movies about meet-cutes and star-crossed lovers have strengthened their foothold in streaming while taking leaps forward at the box office. IndieWire suggested Grant try anything with Glen Powell, a standout rom-com stud also known for “Top Gun: Maverick” who has been described as this generation’s Grant on occasion.

“I’m writing it down,” Grant told IndieWire; the actor has previously described himself as retired from rom-coms.

ANYONE BUT YOU, from left: Glen Powell, Sydney Sweeney, 2023. © Sony Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney in “Anyone But You” ©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Powell became a leading man via Netflix’s “Set It Up” in 2018, and “Anyone But You” opposite Sydney Sweeney earned $216 million at the global box office. Grant broke out with “Four Weddings and a Funeral” in 1994, and later played heartthrobs in “Notting Hill” (1999), “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001), “About a Boy” (2002), “Love Actually” (2003), “Music + Lyrics” (2007), and more. Many appear on IndieWire’s list of the Best Romantic Comedies of All Time.

In that same conversation, Grant described regretting some of the acting choices he made as a younger performer.

“I think I spent years slightly pre-planned in how I was going to deliver a line, particularly comedy lines, and I watch those things now and I think, ‘Yeah, that’s why that joke doesn’t work because it’s pre-planned, you idiot,'” he said. “Whereas anything that is fresh in the moment, delivery or sometimes just an improvisation, it tends to end up in a film and it tends to work.”

(Left to right): “Music + Lyrics,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and “Notting Hill”
(Left to right): “Music + Lyrics,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and “Notting Hill”

Facing off with Kate Winslet in “The Regime,” the actor described being terrified of the formidable talent apparent in his former “Sense & Sensibility” (1995) co-star. The two did not have a romantic connection in that project; Grant was actually opposite Emma Thompson and Winslet was opposite Alan Rickman. Still, Grant described finding a psychosexual tension between his and Winslet’s “Regime” characters.

“He’s fascinated by men who are probably better in bed than he is,” Grant said.

Read the complete interview with IndieWire.

“The Regime” premiered Sunday, March 3 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and Max. Episodes release weekly through the finale on April 7.

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