Hugh Grant Accused of Being 'Rude' to Oscars Interviewer, But He Was Actually Referencing a Classic Christian Book


I don’t expect those watching the red-carpet interviews at the Oscars to be Harvard English majors or anything, but come on.

On March 12, the one awards show we all have to pretend to care about was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Actor Hugh Grant — best known for his work in “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Love, Actually,” who also played a small part in last year’s “Glass Onion” — was one of the many celebrities interviewed by individuals of varying intellect.

In Grant’s case, he got Ashley Graham — a model who did not go to Harvard, or indeed any institution of higher learning. This would not usually matter, except for a giant misunderstanding when she asked Grant about his “favorite thing about coming to the Oscars.”

“Well, its fascinating,” said the English-born actor. “It’s — the whole of humanity is here. It’s ‘Vanity Fair.'”

“Oh, it’s all about Vanity Fair,” Graham responded. “That’s where we let loose and have a little bit of fun.”

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What Graham was referring to was the Vanity Fair magazine Oscars after-party. What those of us who have read the classic Christian allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress” know is that John Bunyan’s fictional “Vanity Fair” is a place where every human whim can be indulged.

As the magazine itself notes on its website, “‘Vanity Fair’ originally meant ‘a place or scene of ostentation or empty, idle amusement and frivolity’ — a reference to the decadent fair in John Bunyan’s 1678 book, The Pilgrim’s Progress. By the 19th century, however, author William Makepeace Thackeray made ‘Vanity Fair’ his own, borrowing the term to christen his widely read 1848 satirical novel, which was serialized at the time in Britain’s Punch magazine.”

And, as Financial Review noted: “At this fair, wrote John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress, can be bought whatever you desire: ‘Houses, Lands, Trades, Places, Honours, Preferments, Titles’, even ‘Countreys’ and ‘Kingdoms.’

“The terrible list goes on to include ‘Lusts, Pleasures … Whores, Bauds, Wives, Husbands, Children, Masters, Servants, Lives, Blood, Bodies, Souls, Silver, Gold, Pearls, Precious Stones, and what not.'”

Have you read “The Pilgrim’s Progress”?

Which, let’s face it, could probably refer to the Vanity Fair after-party, as well. You can understand the confusion.

So, was Grant referring specifically to the Thackeray novel or to Bunyan’s work? Considering they were both English writers caustically commenting on superficiality, and Thackeray himself was referencing Bunyan, the point stands either way.

And Graham missed it completely.

To my eyes, Grant looked genuinely horrified at the stupidity — but, let’s face it, in an objective sense, it’s hard to tell whether Grant was unimpressed, nonplussed or simply didn’t want to be more chatty than he had to be. Whatever the case, however, the rest of the interview was terse.
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Asked by Graham what he was wearing — as in, the designer — he replied, “Just my suit.”

Who was he rooting for? “No one in particular.”

As for his appearance in “Glass Onion,” the sequel to “Knives Out,” Grant was self-effacing: “I’m barely in it, I’m in it for, like, three seconds.”

“You showed up and had fun, right?” Graham asked.

“Almost,” Grant replied.

Well, anyway, cue Twitter Oscars outrage:

However, at least some social media users were impressed that Grant was learned, humorous, dry and succinct:

As for Graham, she hit back when asked about the encounter by TMZ, conspicuously taking the high road in the kind of ostentatious way that comes across as anything but taking the high road.

“You know what, my mama told me to kill people with kindness, so there you go,” she told one of the tabloid’s photographers at Los Angeles International Airport.

Maybe her mama ought to have told her to read more books. Just saying.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture