Hugh Grant, Britain's newest investigative reporter and all-round national treasure, gets back to his day job with a couple of peachy roles in coming months. If you've seen the trailer for Aardman's Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists you'll know all about his knockabout Pirate Captain in the stop-motion caper. But you not know as much about his role in the genre kaleidoscope that is Cloud Atlas.
For the new issue Empire sat down with Grant to chat about his film career to date, Leveson and the lure of Hollywood blockbusters in his post-Four Weddings heyday. And a cracking interview he proved to be.
He shared some fascinating insights into his role in Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski's Russian doll of a movie. Or should that be roles? "I have six cameo parts in this strange, ambitious film," Grant explained. "I do a lot of killing and raping. I wear an awful lot of prosthetic make up, too. You probably won’t know that I am in the film! But it was a laugh. I thought before I read it that I’d turn it down, which I normally do, but I was interested in meeting the Wachowskis because I have always admired them enormously. And they are so charming and fascinating."
Describing those six characters as "incredibly evil", Grant explained that the Wachowski siblings' decision to cast him against type led to serious soul-searching: "I slightly called my own bluff. In one of the parts I am a cannibal, about 2000 years in the future, and I thought, 'I can do that. It’s easy.' And then I am suddenly standing in a cannibal skirt on a mountaintop in Germany and they are saying, 'You know, hungry! We must have that flesh-eating, like a leopard who is so hungry...' and I am thinking, 'I can’t do that! Just give me a witty line!'"
Cloud Atlas recently wrapped and the three co-directors are dealing with the unenviable task of knitting all this narrative complexity together in the editing suite. "It will be fascinating to see how it turns out," marvelled Grant, who describes it as the biggest independent film of his career. "I have seen little bits of cut footage and it is just astonishing. I probably had 20 shooting days, and each of them is shooting their own part of the film with their own crews. It’s remarkable."
There's genuine anticipation building around this one - even more now we know that Hugh Grant will be channelling his inner leopard - and a trailer shouldn't be too far away. Expect Cloud Atlas itself on the big screen later this year.