Hugh Grant was a rude, entitled jerk on the Oscars red carpet of self promotion
That was not British humor
The sole purpose of a red carpet before any event is for celebrities to get widespread, free and positive publicity.
The system is set up so the rich and famous can promote themselves to multiple media outlets at the same time. Photographers, reporters, TV hosts stand in a rope line to get access to the celebrities. The actors field softball questions and, in return, get free advertising for their movies, their industry and the designer clothes that they are paid to wear.
Actor Hugh Grant has used the red carpet system for decades. But at the Oscars on Sunday, he decided to treat a woman intervening him on the red carpet for ABC like an entitled jerk.
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After I watched Grant get interviewed by “plus-sized model” Ashley Graham on Sunday, I tweeted this:
Grant’s fans claim the questions were too simplistic so his rudeness is justified. His defenders also say he was being funny, and that Americans don’t understand British humor.
Watch it here:
Red Carpet Self Promotion
Grant didn’t stumble into this interview by chance. Actors are directed by their publicists along the red carpet to talk to the biggest media outlets. (I wrote about the time I walked the red carpet with Tom Brady and pretended to be his publicist here.)
So Grant’s publicity team planned for him to be on live TV at that precise hit time. Graham was on ABC, which likely had the biggest red-carpet audience because it broadcast the awards show afterward.
(The actual carpet at this year’s Oscars was oddly an off-white color — see below — but the term is still the same.)
Don’t call her stupid
Graham is a model, not a journalist. But she asked the same questions as every other entertainment reporter on the red carpet. These are layups for the actors to promote themselves.
As a former TV reporter, I’d bet that ABC gave Grant’s publicist the questions in advance. This is not a gotcha situation. While the media gets access to the celebrities out of this deal, it’s not an opportunity to ask serious questions or hard-hitting journalism.
Questions to Grant
Graham started by asking:
What’s your favorite thing about coming to the Oscars?
Grant paused and then answered, “It’s fascinating. The whole of humanity’s here. It’s Vanity Fair.”
There is an online side debate about what Grant meant. Some assume he was referring to the Oscars after-party hosted by “Vanity Fair” magazine. I thought he was referring to the William Thackeray novel. Either way, his tone was snobby.
Next, Graham asked other genial questions that are repeated year after year on this red carpet-show:
What are you most excited to see tonight?
Are you excited to see anybody win?
Do you have your hopes up for anyone?
What are you wearing tonight?
Grant refused to engage in any of her questions. Still, Graham was cheerful and polite and attempted to get him to answer with flattery:
What does it feel like to be in “Glass Onion”? It’s such an amazing film. I really love a thriller. How fun is it to shoot something like that?
Grant replied, “Well, I’m barely in it. I’m in it for about three seconds.” Again, she followed up by being nice to him.
You showed up and had fun, right?
"Almost," he replied, snarkily.
She gives up trying to get him to talk after a minute. Then Grant visibly raised his eyebrow and rolled his eye to show disdain. I did a screencap of it here:
Graham was professional and polite throughout the live, global nastiness, which is challenging. Asked about it the next day, Graham told TMZ: “My mama told me to kill people with kindness.'“
I was glad to see some Brits jump into the debate.
British TV star Piers Morgan said on his show yesterday that Grant was a “douchebag” for “seemingly delighted in humiliating interviewer, supermodel Ashley Graham.”
Morgan explained that the red carpet is “crawling in journalists and the only purpose of walking down it is to talk to the media.” He said Grant just needed to answer a simple question and not “roll your eyes and walk away, like God, I have to deal with these idiots.”
Team Hugh Grant
Grant has many defenders. Click through any of these tweets to see the battlelines over Hugh:
Grant is not usually a celebrity known for wanting publicity— especially after he got caught with a prostitute. In the past, some A-list actors have skipped the red carpet interviews and gone straight to the show.
But Hugh chose to do these red-carpet interviews. He stopped to strike a pose and have his photo taken, so he was using the opportunity for himself. He just wanted it all on his own terms.
The TV audience is made up of the people who buy tickets or stream movies that made him rich enough to do movies for like “three seconds. “The least he could do was be polite.
PS— I am a fan of Grant and love his older movies, especially “Love Actually”, “Bridget Jones Diary” and “Three Weddings and a Funeral.”
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