Hugh Laurie Fan

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Filed in: blues album , didn't it rain , music , news , press

Unlike Dr. Gregory House, the brash and brainy character he portrayed on the hit TV medical drama “House,” British actor and musician Hugh Laurie wants to make sure he won’t ruffle any feathers when he comes to play his first-ever Nashville concert at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Sunday, October 13.

“An Englishman coming to Nashville and singing ‘The Tennessee Waltz’ – do people reach for rotten fruit and firearms, or do they take that in the proper spirit?” he asks The Tennessean.

Laurie talks of his impending Nashville visit with the utmost respect (“It’s a holy city for music”), but it was his reverence for another musical town – New Orleans – that fueled this year’s “Didn’t It Rain,” his second collection of classic blues covers. It’s a sound that’s spoken to Laurie all his life, ever since “around age 7 or 8” when he first heard bluesman Willie Dixon.

Calling from Vancouver – where’s he’s filming the buzzed-about Disney film “Tomorrowland” – Laurie told us about that lifelong love of blues and classic country, and how his musical chops have found their way into his roles over the years.

We were thrilled to hear a couple of months back that you were coming to town – and making your Nashville debut.

It’ll be more of a thrill for me. Not that that’s the point of it. I mean, I realize the point of this exercise is not to give me a thrill, it’s to give the audience a thrill, but nonetheless, I can’t deny I’m very, very excited about the prospect.

The prospect of playing in Nashville, Tennessee, specifically?

It’s a holy city for music, and I’ve never been there. This will be my first time, and I can’t wait. I’m treading on holy ground.

You take a lot of inspiration from another musical city – New Orleans – and traditional blues and jazz. When did you first hear that music, from any era, and how did it connect with you?

I was very young. I don’t remember exactly – that’s how young I was. It was an age before one cared about one’s age. But I’m guessing at about age 7 or 8, and I heard a record on the radio, and I had this idea, I don’t know why. I think it was (blues musician) Willie Dixon. From that moment on, I was just sold.

“Sold,” that doesn’t really cover it. I’ve got to be careful, because I know I’m heading for a very religious part of the world. I’d better not call it a divine revelation. It was like a thunder bolt, and I’m still shuddering from it even now, 50-odd years later, and will for the rest of my life. I’m not suddenly going to get into hip-hop, I can pretty much guarantee that.

While we’re talking about Nashville: any classic country sounds that found their way to you, and did they inspire you at all?

Oh, yeah. Well, actually, I need to ask your advice. An Englishman coming to Nashville and singing “The Tennessee Waltz” – do people reach for rotten fruit and firearms, or do they take that in the proper spirit?

I think they’ll love it – it’s one of our state songs.

It’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Well, that’s good to know, because that has been a favorite of mine, ever since I was a child. I know a million people have done it, but we actually recorded it for the album, and then I sort of slightly lost my nerve, because again, that’s a holy song, and I had a slight feeling of maybe trespassing. I know I’m trespassing anyway. But we did record it, and I absolutely love that tune.

You know, Hank Williams was always a hero of mine. There’s something about what appears to be the simplicity of what he does. It’s so deceptive, because anyone else tries to do it, and suddenly, they realize it isn’t that simple. Or at least, simple isn’t the same as easy. Robert Johnson, I think, is similar, in that people think, ‘Oh yeah, I know what he’s doing there.’ Well, no. It just so happens that nobody else can do it. Nobody can do Robert Johnson, and nobody can do Hank Williams. There’s something about guys like that. It’s unique, and all one can do, I suppose, is pay a kind of service to the songs themselves, rather than the artist.

You’ve mentioned two guitar players, so I wonder what made you gravitate towards the piano, versus other instruments?

It’s a good point. I suppose, well, besides the obvious thing of – I like sitting down – although a lot of Nashville players play guitar sitting down…

Yeah, some of them have a pretty sweet deal here.

Exactly. I never saw myself as the guy up in front. I never saw myself as a guitar hero when all of my friends were either playing real guitars or air guitar. That wasn’t how I saw myself. I saw myself more at the back, just noodling along on the piano. I suppose there was a strange thing that happened. When I was listening to Muddy Waters, the more I listened to his records, the more I found myself picking out what (Waters’ piano player) Otis Spann was doing. Brilliant piano player though he was, he was very often deep in the mix, so it was quite hard to hear what he was doing. I just found my ear going to that, and trying to figure out why what he did sounded so great and touched me so deeply. I don’t really know why it is, but the piano just caught my ear. Maybe I just felt like there are enough guitarists in the world.

And if you play the piano and can sing, you’re a one-man show. But you’ll be bringing a band with you to Nashville?

Boy, I’m coming mob handed. I’m coming with the great Copper Bottom Band, who I sort of half-ironically refer to on stage as “The Greatest Band in the World,” but it’s only half-ironic because they are unbelievably great. I know you hear unbelievably great musicians every night of the week in Nashville, but I put these guys up without any doubt, I have every confidence that they’ll prove equal to the task. I’m the shaky guy in the outfit. I’m the big faker who’s trying to get away with it, but they are unbelievably great. There are seven of them, so we’re eight on stage. We make a good, fat sound.

You’ve shown your musical side on “House,” “Saturday Night Live,” and well before that on British television. I wondered if throughout your acting career, you’ve tried to find ways to work music in.

You know, I’m not conscious of that. Maybe I did. Maybe there was a little voice, sort of saying, “Why don’t you suggest a piano…” but I don’t think I did that. I remember, particularly with “House,” there was a very conscious effort in the beginning, the character was very deliberately, consciously modeled on Sherlock Holmes, who had that obsession with the violin. I always thought that a musical expression of the character was an interesting element. As with Sherlock Holmes, you have this brain that appears to be ruthlessly logical and rational, and yet it also has this sort of romantic side to it. There is some part of that brain that needs to express itself or converse with itself through music.

I couldn’t play the violin, and even if I could, that might have been too direct an allusion to Sherlock Holmes. But I did think that music was an interesting element to “House,” partially because music conforms in some ways to the rational side of that character. It’s a mathematical, physical thing, but also it’s improvisational and it’s creative and it expressed a sort of longing in the character of “House” that maybe he didn’t dare express in words.

And if it wasn’t voice inside your head telling you to suggest music, surely there were people around you saying, “Hey Hugh, here’s a piano – how about a song?”

I think it did appeal to the writers a little bit. I remember years and years before, with my friend Stephen Fry, we’d done these P.G. Wodehouse stories (the “Jeeves and Wooster” British television series). And the guy who produced that show had done the “Hercule Poirot” series, which was set in the same period. He had decided that to fill an hour, the script needed to be 61-and-a-half pages long. It so happened, we discovered in the first week that we were going about 10 percent faster than they were, and so the first show we did, he realized that we were short by about four minutes. They were scratching their heads thinking, “We don’t have a show. How can we fill four minutes? I know, we’ll get the guy to sit at the piano and sing a song.” So I wound up singing on the series, basically because I talk too fast. That was the price I paid for talking fast. I had to sing a song every week – which I loved, by the way. And it went on from there.

You’ve been a musician all your life, but perhaps being a touring musician is a new development. Does that life suit you – being on the road, seeing the world?

I absolutely love it. I’m like a kid on the bus. I’ve got eyes like saucers, and I can’t believe it. We do a show, we get on the bus, we drink some whiskey, we wake up the next morning and we’re in a different city, a different part of the world. It’s all of my dreams coming true. For the rest of the guys, the band I’m playing with, they’re a very, very experienced band, and some of them have been doing it 30, 40 years. So maybe the romance has slightly worn off for them, and they’re just thinking about laundry. That’s the big issue. But for me, it’s the biggest and best adventure there is.

You’ll be in Nashville soon, but worlds have already found a way of colliding. One of our residents, Tim McGraw, is in the upcoming Disney film “Tomorrowland,” which I hear you’re also a part of. I’m not sure what you can say, but are you looking forward to the experience?

They have a gun to my head, and I’m not allowed to say a damn word about. I’m actually in Vancouver now, shooting for that movie. I heard that he was going to be in this, I heard yesterday. I haven’t met him yet, but I hope I will. All I will dare say is that it is a very, very exciting project, and so far, we’re about a third of the way through now, I think. I am cautiously optimistic. Things are going well. That’s no guarantee of anything, but it’s a very clever, and interesting bunch of people working on this movie – of whom I am not one, by the way, I’m not sure I qualify. But they’re a very interesting bunch, and the movie’s going very well, and I’m really looking forward to meeting him. It’s going to be really interesting.


Posted at 3:40 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: blues album , didn't it rain , music , news , press

About an hour into my encounter with Hugh Laurie, in a suite at the Dorchester in London, he starts protesting at length about how boring his answers to my questions are. He had been talking – rather interestingly – about his theory that television, rather than film, was the medium through which the US “not just projects its image of itself to the world, but actually decides what its image is. It’s America’s way of conversing with itself about what it believes to be important.”

He has just finished telling me that he doesn’t think British TV is as interested in expressing grand ideas about identity and purpose – “I think that’s a bit highfalutin for us” – when he suddenly brings himself up short. This is all so boring that he is boring himself, he says. He gestures towards the iPhone on which I’m recording the interview. “If I get any duller,” he sighs, “I think your phone might actually go: ‘Fuck it, I’m not recording this. Really this application is designed to record things of value. I mean, the assumption was you weren’t just going to record a man scratching his arse. Because if that’s what you’re going to do, I’m quitting. Scramble. Escape.’”

This kind of thing is supposed to be par for the course when you interview Laurie. He famously loathes talking to journalists almost as much as he hates being photographed, and his attitude to being photographed would impress a 19th-century Native American: “I really do believe the camera steals the soul. But that may be because I’m worried about my soul. I don’t have much of a soul to begin with, I can’t afford to lose much.” That said, his aversion to being photographed has not precluded him becoming the “spokesmodel” for L’Oreal’s male skincare range. “Proudly so!” he says, explaining he uses the money to fund a variety of charitable projects in Africa and claiming he doesn’t really know what being a spokesmodel entails: “I made a commercial and I was photographed, I did a poster once. I’ll presumably have to do that again. If you’re going to ask me questions about skincare, there’s not much I can tell you. Don’t rub a cheese grater up and down your cheeks. That would be my advice. Don’t dunk your face in engine oil or other caustic substances. I don’t know anything about it. They sort of ask you to do this thing and you go: ‘You’re out of your fucking mind, not in a billion years would I consider such a thing.’ Then, as they tell you it’s a great deal of money, the thought crosses your mind: ‘With that money I could build a school in Senegal.’ And then you can’t say no. Because if you do say no, what you’re saying is that your public pose is more important than people getting a school in Senegal or polio vaccinations in Uganda or whatever. You can’t do that. You just can’t.”

Still, he once compared talking to the press to putting his testicles on a chopping board – and, judging by his past interviews, it almost invariably turns into an exercise in caustic self-deprecation and soul-searching, which journalists tend to take as symptomatic of a deeper malaise. Laurie has struggled with depression in the past, and seems big on depicting himself as a man who feels guilty about his apparently undeserved success, who doesn’t much enjoy being famous (something of a problem given his eight-year tenure as the titular star of House, which ended last year but at its peak was the most-watched TV show in the world, distributed to 66 countries and for which he commanded £250,000 an episode, getting him in Guinness World Records as the highest-paid actor ever in a TV drama), for whom life was “a gradually descending mist of confusion and doubt” and whose “version of happiness consists of not being happy”.

The thing is, today at least, he does not seem much like that at all. He does react a little suspiciously when I say I like his new album, Didn’t It Rain, a follow-up to 2011′s Let Them Talk, on which he once again performs classic blues songs, music he says he has loved since childhood. “Thank you for saying that, I’m very relieved,” he begins, before frowning. “Well, if you mean it. You have to say that otherwise it’s going to be awkward, isn’t it? ‘Heard your album, sort of hated it. Anyway, my first question.’ It’s a difficult way to kick off, I suppose.”

Then again he seems genuinely startled by Let Them Talk’s success, perhaps with good reason. Actors who parlay their fame into recording careers rarely have as smooth a ride as Laurie seems to have done. Despite a case of nerves in the studio that could be stayed only with “proper and sensible applications of whisky and beta-blockers and picking the right people to be around you – people who, even if they are rolling their eyes and going ‘What a wanker’, at least have the grace to do it behind your back”, Let Them Talk was both well-reviewed and big-selling. He says he didn’t read what anybody wrote about it – “it seems to me if you want to be protected from the unpleasant stuff, you can’t go just reading the good stuff, that seems wrong” – but he can’t have missed the gold albums and the sold-out tours. “I know that it did all right, and I was surprised by it. When people buy a ticket, that I sort of understand, it says my name on it and they’ve watched the television show, and they think: ‘Ah well, if nothing else, we’ll see the bloke off the TV.’ But buying a record, you don’t get that, you don’t get the visual. So I was very, very surprised that people were able to make the sort of adjustment. Because, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I would.” He thinks for a moment. “For example, Clive Dunn,” he says, a little unexpectedly. “Splendid. Clive Dunn, as I understand it, retired to the south of Spain, where he worked extensively in watercolours. I don’t own any of Clive Dunn’s watercolours. I loved him in Dad’s Army, loved him. But not enough to actually seek out his watercolour work.”


Posted at 3:30 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

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For the past 50 years RMS Queen Mary, launched in 1934 and the pride of the Cunard fleet, has been berthed at Long Beach, California. There she caters to tourists seeking a nostalgic whiff of the glory days of the ocean-going liners. Restaurants, bars, hotel accommodation and Anglocentric museum exhibitions (currently on show, Diana: Legacy of a Princess) draw in visitors by the thousands.

On a spring night shortly before Easter, the music room of the Queen Mary is, then, an appropriate location to host the rebirth of Hugh Laurie.

The 53-year-old Englishman is something close to acting royalty. Cambridge Footlights, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster – they don’t come much funnier, or better-loved, than the well-spoken, intelligent comedian, actor and one-time author (his novel, The Gun Seller, was published in 1996).

And Laurie’s screen work isn’t cherished only on this side of the Atlantic. Beginning in 2004 he starred as the titular doctor in eight seasons of the hit medical drama House, and became a huge star in the US. Indeed, his portrayal of the brilliant but pain-racked, pill-popping and misanthropic diagnostic physician at a teaching hospital was a hit almost everywhere. In 2011 the Guinness Book of Records anointed him the world’s most watched leading man on television, tallying 81.8 million viewers in 66 countries. His portrayal of Dr Gregory House won two Golden Globes and was nominated for six Emmys. Little wonder that Laurie was handsomely remunerated: £250,000 per episode.

Odder still for those of us who fondly remember him as Blackadder III’s thick Prince Regent, or as PG Wodehouse’s bumbling toff Bertie Wooster, Laurie also metamorphosed into a middle-aged object of desire for legions of American fans. But becoming an unexpected heartthrob wasn’t Laurie’s only remarkable midlife feat of reinvention.

He is now a musician, too. A successful one at that. In 2011 Laurie released his first album. Let Them Talk was a collection of blues standards such as St James Infirmary and John Henry, with Laurie applying a careworn voice, decent piano-playing skills and a lifelong passion for the genre to a set of vintage songs, many of them originating in the Mississippi delta. It sold a million copies worldwide and Laurie and his Copper Bottom Band undertook an international tour in support of it, spending six months on the road in Europe, America, South America and Russia.

Now, exactly one year since Dr House finally put away his stethoscope and walking stick – the series had run its course, and Laurie had had his fill of fronting such a massive TV show – Laurie is launching a second blues album, Didn’t It Rain, with a concert aboard the Queen Mary.

For the new album he gave himself a fresh mission statement: ‘I have resolved to forge on, deeper into the forest of American music that has enchanted me since I was a small boy.’

But he insists that he is as surprised as anyone that he is being allowed to do this again. Tell him that his debut made him a Top 40 recording artist in 20 different countries worldwide and his eyebrows give a positively Wodehousian waggle. ‘Is that what I did? I didn’t even know that. Bloody hell. See, I didn’t know what releasing a record was like. I didn’t know what was supposed to happen. When people say, “You’ve done 12,000 this week in the Netherlands,” I don’t know what that means. I felt like we were doing some good live shows, and I was very proud of the record. But I didn’t really know what people would make of it. And still don’t know what people make of it…’

In front of a small audience of invited guests and lucky fans, Laurie presents songs from Let Them Talk and Didn’t It Rain. He is dressed in ruffled peach shirt and naval cap, like a rather louche 1970s sailor. Or, as he jokes, like a character from The Poseidon Adventure. He is backed by a small band, a three-piece horn section and two female backing vocalists. For well over an hour, Laurie plays piano with grimacing gusto, strums acoustic guitar in a blissful reverie, sings with throaty conviction and dances a giddy tango with one of the singers, Gaby Moreno, who’s rather like a Guatemalan Edith Piaf.

‘This is emotional for me,’ he says at one point, explaining that in 1975 a personal hero, the late New Orleans singer and pianist Professor Longhair, played in this very room at a party thrown by Paul McCartney and Wings. The resulting album, Live on the Queen Mary, had a profound impact on the 19-year-old Laurie. ‘It changed everything for me.’

And now, here he is, playing the same room, with some stellar musicians, singin’ the blues. ‘I feel like a Saudi Arabian playboy who’s been given the keys to a Ferrari he’s had no training in.’ He grins. ‘But I’m loving it.’

The next morning, Laurie is to be found in a light-filled suite in a beachfront hotel in Santa Monica. Since House finished last year he has, he ‘supposes’, relocated back to London, although he recorded Didn’t It Rain, like its predecessor, in LA. ‘The strange thing – and this is one of the advantages of being incredibly shallow and superficial – is that wherever I am, that’s sort of home,’ he says.

‘I get back to Heathrow and within 10 minutes of going along the M4 I feel like I’ve never left England. I get here and within 10 minutes of going along La Cienega, I feel like I’ve never been away. But that, as I say, is because I’m very shallow.’

Laurie has just finished a meeting with a man from BBC Radio 2, with whom he’s making a series about the various highways and byways travelled by American blues. He also filmed an ITV documentary, Perspectives, about the recording of Didn’t It Rain. He faces three whole days of back-to-back interviews with reporters from almost every corner of the globe. If only he had sold fewer units in fewer territories, I tell him in the language of this new business in which he finds himself, he and his wife, Jo (a textiles and fabric designer), might have made it back to London and their three children (aged 19, 22 and 24) in time for the Easter weekend.

‘Yeah, I had to go and…’ Laurie begins with a rueful smile. ‘See, everything brings its own punishment and reward.’ He pauses while he pours a cup of coffee, then sits down, frowning. ‘That’s miserable, isn’t it, substituting “units” for “records” and “territories” for “countries”. Why, why, why?’ he laments, only half-joking. ‘Somebody wrote to me the other day, saying I had to write liner [sleeve] notes for the Deluxe Package [version of Didn’t It Rain],’ he continues. ‘I said, “Oh, please, I don’t even know what you’re talking about. But whatever it is, can we not refer to it as a Deluxe Package?” I don’t want to have anything to do with a Deluxe Package.’

Laurie’s speaking style can be ponderous, often Eeyore-ishly so. As often as he curls out a wonderfully loquacious paragraph, he also fails to complete sentences. But he seems especially rusty this morning. Perhaps it’s the hangover, from both the stress of the first public performance of songs from Didn’t It Rain, and from the patently potent Guatemalan rum he was merrily imbibing on stage. ‘——- hell, that stuff!’ he exclaims. ‘Halfway through that glass I thought, either I’m not used to rum or I’m actually having a minor stroke here. Delicious, obviously. Not unpleasant as strokes go.’ A pause, and a fleeting look of panic as he realises what he has just said. ‘That’s terrible, don’t, don’t…’ he grimaces, the sentence again hanging unfinished.

I saw Laurie’s first public concert, in New Orleans’ French Quarter, in March 2011. I saw him at London’s Union Chapel a few months later, then at a tiny LA club a few months after that. I spoke with him on all three occasions, and I know how tense he is before and after performances. I ask him now: is there yet sufficient distance from last night’s premiere for him to have enjoyed the show? ‘No,’ he says flatly. ‘I woke up about every hour of the night, shuddering at the memory of some stupid thing I said or did, or some clanger I played on the piano. Which I’ve compressed into a sort of negative Director’s Cut.’

‘Hugh is always self-deprecating,’ says Joe Henry, the American producer, singer, songwriter and blues aficionado who has shepherded both of Laurie’s albums. ‘That’s the way he processes his artistry about anything he’s taking on. Because he wants it to be great. That’s all he wants.’

Laurie’s first exposure to the blues came when he was aged 11 or 12. Willie Dixon’s I Can’t Quit You Baby ‘made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up’. He was hooked. The first album he bought was Muddy Waters’s Live (At Mr Kelly’s), soon followed by that Professor Longhair Queen Mary recording. He grew up in a middle-class household in Oxford, the Eton-educated youngest of four (his father was a GP, his mother a housewife).

At Cambridge University his passion for music metamorphosed into skilled comic performances – he was a Footlights contemporary of his future professional partner Stephen Fry and his one-time girlfriend Emma Thompson. But even though this was the latter days of punk and the early days of alternative comedy, it was an older, more distant musical form that captivated Laurie.

He acknowledged the surreal oddness – the sacrilege, even – of his taking on the blues in a note on his website before the release of Let Them Talk. ‘I was not born in Alabama in the 1890s,’ Laurie wrote. ‘You may as well know this now. I’ve never eaten grits, cropped a share, or ridden a boxcar. No gipsy woman said anything to my mother when I was born and there’s no hellhound on my trail, as far as I can judge. Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American south.’ As pre-emptive strikes go against those who might accuse him of dilettantism, it was a good one.

In adulthood, in his first career, Laurie remained musical and impassioned, but only tangentially. He wrote comic songs for him and his friend and collaborator Stephen Fry to perform. In fact, as he tells the audience aboard the Queen Mary, the theme tune to A Bit of Fry & Laurie was Professor Longhair’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But it was in music that Laurie sought refuge off-screen, playing the piano daily, listening to his old vinyl religiously. Explaining what the blues does for him, he says, ‘There is something soothing about explaining away the troubles of the day.’ Still, it would take Dr Gregory House’s occasional musings on the piano to catalyse Laurie’s rebirth as a proper musician.

Conrad Withey, the London-based president of Warner Music Entertainment and a House fan, spotted Laurie’s onscreen proficiency on the keys. Learning of Laurie’s love of the blues, in 2010 Withey made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: the chance to record his own album. Joe Henry (who also assembled Laurie’s band) was among the first to experience how much this opportunity meant to Laurie.

‘It was clear that Hugh was dedicated to making music that was alive and could stand on its own,’ he says of their initial meeting at Henry’s LA home. He was not interested in it being a vanity project… And by the way,’ Henry adds, ‘not a single one of the musicians regarded him as anything other than a great and fellow musician. Nobody thinks of him as this poseur movie star making a record. His devotion and his craft are authentic.’ In fact, he says, ‘Hugh has a much more broad comprehensive knowledge of historic blues recordings than I do. And I’ve been listening to that music like a religious zealot since I was 14 or 15.’

Repeat any of that approbation to Laurie and he’d probably implode in mortified gratitude. But what he will admit to is getting supreme satisfaction from playing music. More so than from acting? ‘I get much more direct, immediate, sensual pleasure out of doing it,’ he says, nodding. ‘I mean, it has similarities [to acting] – and sometimes even worse technical aspects to it, where you think, “Oh God, I wanted to do this but I didn’t execute it right.”’

In that regard, House was the gift that kept on taking: a dream role, but one that came with a price. Playing a character mired in bleakness for eight years couldn’t help but hang heavy on Laurie – not least because he has previous experience of depression (he underwent psychotherapy in the mid-1990s) and especially because his family had for the most part stayed in Britain while he was based in LA for nine months each year. ‘I didn’t really realise that at the time,’ he says. ‘But it was having an effect. There was something dark and tortured and painful and lonely about that character. And maybe I’m a little bit less of those things now that I’m not representing it every day.’

Laurie has by no means given up on acting. He was due to take the lead in Crossbones, an American drama about pirates, until the filming dates clashed with the touring plans for Didn’t It Rain. He is filming Tomorrowland this summer, a dystopian sci-fi epic directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles) playing a baddie opposite George Clooney. This year will also see him complete work on The Canterville Ghost, a British animation that features Stephen Fry. Later in the year, meanwhile, should see the release of Mr Pip, an adaptation of the best-selling 2006 novel by Lloyd Jones that Laurie shot in Papua New Guinea shortly before filming the last season of House. ‘My favourite thing about the shoot,’ its director Andrew Adamson remembers, ‘was that the [daily] call-sheet said, “Hugh Laurie: own transportation”. That’s because Hugh canoed to set.’

For all his fame, accomplishments and polymathic talents, Hugh Laurie’s got the blues, inside him and around him. No wonder he is, against type and against the odds, rather good at it. ‘The physical pleasure of actually making sounds, hearing other people make sounds, responding to the sound they’re making – there’s just nothing like it,’ he sighs. On Didn’t It Rain he takes the occasional vocal back seat to the singers Moreno and ‘Sista’ Jean McClain. ‘To sit back at the end of The Weed Smoker’s Dream,’ he says of the 1930s tune covered on the album, ‘and watch Gaby finish that last verse and let that last note tail away…’ Laurie beams with pleasure. ‘That’s exquisite for me. Actually,’ he offers, ‘I realised last night that my goal might be to be standing in the back, watching it. It’s probably more fun doing that than playing it. So maybe that’s my dream,’ he says, chuckling, ‘to do a show but not be in it.’


Posted at 3:32 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: appearances , movies , news , press , the oranges , video

Posted at 7:30 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: movies , mr. pip , news , press

When one thinks of the films of Andrew Adamson, the first ones that come to mind are the SHREK movies and the first two NARNIA films, but his newest feature, starring British thespian Hugh Laurie is a different bag altogether, and the step up is impressive. MR. PIP is one of those films that will have you thinking about it long after. You will revel in the fact that you enjoyed it, that you were disturbed by it, but mostly that it was a VERY relevant story about a VERY real situation that happened, that through our own hubris, Western society was the cause of. No matter how much we wish to look the other way, the cause of this strife was a copper mine in Bouganville near the isle of Papa New Guinea. That makes this an important film. But what really made it sing was the fact that it was beautifully shot, but at the same time utterly visceral and difficult to stomach. We are certainly not used to seeing such things and being aware of the fact that they take place on this planet, even though should be front and center to those of us in the west who take something as simple as “copper” as a given, when it’s really not.

The story takes place during the real life strife in the 1990′s between Papa New Guinea and Bougainville Island, with a British teacher who brings the words and lessons of Charles Dickens GREAT EXPECTATIONS to the local Bouganville population (children and adults alike), but the PNG militia has other ideas. At times very hard to watch as it is very visceral and real, MR. PIP is a brilliantly realized piece of film-making. Andrew Adamson proves himself to be more than a family film type director. During the Q&A Adamson revealed he grew up in Papa New Guinea, so the subject matter must strike extremely close to home and that resonated for me. Every ounce of blood and sweat was poured onto the celluloid.

Laurie is absolutely wonderful in his role as Mr. Watts (Pop-Eye), but it’s Xzannjah Matsi, and her real life mother (as well as movie mother) Healesville Joel who utterly and completely steal the show. Xzannjah especially could easily hold her own amongst the bigger stars of Hollywood. She was riveting to watch throughout and I challenge anyone to be able to take their eyes off her. She should be very proud of her achievement here as she pulled off an Oscar-worthy debut performance and the rest of the audience and I agreed as we gave her a standing ovation.

I actually hope that MR. PIP is one of the bigger successes of TIFF this year as I was truly affected by it, and I’d easily vote it as one of the best so far this year. Hopefully this comes out wide in release as I feel it’s a very important film and we need to take stock of the things we take for granted in Western society and how it affect the world. Get out and see this film!


Posted at 11:52 am Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: appearances , movies , mr. pip , news , pictures , press

Here you have some lovely pics of Hugh during the Mr. Pip Q&A and premiere within the Toronto Film Festival. Enjoy!

Mr. Pip Q&A – 09/09/12

Mr. Pip Premiere – 09/09/12

Posted at 11:49 am Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: house , news , press

Posted at 6:46 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: news , press

Stephen Fry has announced that he is working again with former comedy partner Hugh Laurie.

The pair, best known for their BBC sketch show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, will reunite for a “project” in the near future.

The QI host tweeted today: “M’coll Hugh Laurie and I are cooking up a project together.

“We will be working again soon. Sorry to be mysterious but more news when I can.”

The duo also starred alongside each other in sitcom Jeeves and Wooster between 1990 and 1993.

Their critically-acclaimed sketch show A Bit of Fry & Laurie ran for four series between 1989 and 1995.

Fry and Laurie reunited in 2010 for a GOLD retrospective, celebrating 30 years of their TV partnership.

Laurie, who is currently the highest-paid actor on US television, recently shot the final season of his hit Fox medical drama House.


Posted at 7:18 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: movies , news , press , the oranges

“TriBeCa what?” Oliver Platt said on opening night of the inaugural Montclair Film Festival.

Platt’s new movie “The Oranges,” which will be released in the fall, did not disappoint the crowd (which included Dave Matthews and, of course, Stephen Colbert) at the packed Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. The hilarious movie opened the festival and had the audience laughing so hard, many lines were drowned out.

While Festival Co-Director Thom Powers said he wondered about opening the festival with a movie about adultery — and who knows how many suburban couples went home to discuss their happiness, or lack thereof — opening night and the choice of films was an unquestionable success.

Before the screening Powers talked about how the movie shows people in New Jersey gazing toward Manhattan, which he admitted deserved the attention it gets. But he ended with this, “This week and in subsequent years, we plan to turn the world’s gaze to New Jersey.

“Now, let the festival begin.”

After the final credits rolled, champagne corks popped off bottles in the theater’s lobby while Platt sat on stage discussing the movie and his life. He was funny, humble and gracious, calling it a “privilege” to be there.

“This is historic,” Platt said of the first screening in the first night of the first Montclair festival and the start of something the directors and board members hope becomes a big-time annual event. It seemed to go off without a hitch. Co-Director Raphaela Neihausen said there were 261 volunteers and all of them seemed to be there tonight, opening doors and trying to answer questions before they were even asked.

Neihausen said 18 events are soldout, but mentioned a few that still have tickets available — Wednesday’s Tribute to Kathleen Turner, Thursday’s screening of “Undefeated” among them.


Posted at 12:59 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

Filed in: house , news , press

In 2004, Hugh Laurie was a 45-year-old actor of fine credentials, known to Anglophiles and actual English people for his winning TV work with Stephen Fry (the BBC sketch show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, the P. G. Wodehouse adaptation Jeeves & Wooster) and to small children for playing the dad in the Stuart Little movies. He was the last person you’d have predicted to have an obituary that will someday lead with the phrase “Hugh Laurie, best known for playing an ornery, painkiller-addicted American diagnostician . . . ”

But then House premiered that year on Fox, and Laurie’s Dr. Gregory House emerged as one of the great characters on television: prickly yet magnetic, gimpy yet graceful. House became a ratings hit, and Laurie—well into middle age, using an American accent, and generally forswearing the use of a razor—became a star and a sex symbol. “As career twists go, it doesn’t get any twistier,” he says. “Outside of the federal witness-protection program, I don’t think anybody gets to re-invent themselves quite the way I’ve done.”

Laurie now finds himself winding down the eighth and final season of House. He insists that Greg House’s dark character has not insinuated its way into his own—“If anything, he cheers me up”—but grants that doing the show has altered his outlook. “We’re undecided about moving back to England,” Laurie says of himself and his family. “This morning I was having a cup of coffee outside—a quintessentially California moment. In London you can only do that three days of the year.”


Posted at 6:24 pm Author: Hugh Laurie Fan Staff 0 Comments

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Role: (voice)
Direct by: Kim Burden
Release date: December 25, 2014
Status:  Pre-Production

Role:Mr. Watts
Direct by: Andrew Adamson
Release date: ???
Status:  Pre-Production

Release date: May 9, 2011
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