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.”
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.'”
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.
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:
Wow Hugh Grant really put Ashley Graham in her place…which is asking questions on the red carpet at the Oscars. What a jerk.
— Heidi Stevens (@HeidiStevens13) March 12, 2023
Hugh Grant is such a jerk at #Oscar — She was promoting HIM and his work and, in response, Grant was rude and dismissive. Like it’s so hard being rich and famous.
— Emily Miller (@emilymiller) March 13, 2023
Hugh Grant wins the Oscar for…Jerk of the Night!!!
Props to @ashleygraham for staying so professional and positive 👏🏽.
— Nadine Babu (@NadineBabu) March 12, 2023
And the Oscar for Best Actress goes to Ashley Graham telling Hugh Grant “it was nice to talk to you” pic.twitter.com/EhENpbME3r
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) March 12, 2023
However, at least some social media users were impressed that Grant was learned, humorous, dry and succinct:
Hugh Grant, talking to Ashley Graham, delivers an masterclass here in apathy. He refers to the literary classic Vanity Fair, a novel about the vacuous, shallow nature of society. Graham, thinks he’s referring to the ‘magazine.’ Grant exposes the utter banality of today’s society. pic.twitter.com/Xn70keGdZP
— Sherlock Holmes (@Baskerville448) March 13, 2023
Hugh Grant talking about Pilgrim’s Progress while the interviewer thinks he’s talking about an after party is priceless https://t.co/902QYljJ6g
— Mike Ensminger Fan Account @email@example.com (@laplanck) March 13, 2023
Discussion of the Hugh Grant Vs Ashley Graham interview really captures the split between our two countries.
Man makes bone dry, acerbic comments, with references to classical literature, in response to bland questions. Accused of being rude by US voices, and iconic by UK ones.
— Jensy (@Zaphod2042) March 13, 2023
Actually Hugh Grant’s reference to Vanity Fair probably has less to do with Thackery’s novel than being in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as a literal fair where the devil sells temptations and people who don’t buy them get attacked by the mob.
— Andrew Paul Wood🤔😒 (@AndrewPaulWood) March 13, 2023
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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