No, Hugh Grant wasn’t rude at the Oscars

American model/television presenter Ashley Graham intercepts British actor to ask some gratuitous hand-on-your-heart type questions


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Tue 14 Mar 2023, 6:21 PM

This is, roughly, the transcript — and my understanding — of an “interview” that took place on the champagne-coloured rug (the metaphorical red carpet) at the 95th Academy Awards… an interview that’s now gone viral.

American model/television presenter Ashley Graham, who was “covering the carpet” for ABC, intercepted British actor Hugh Grant as he was walking down the self-same carpet and proceeded to ask some gratuitous hand-on-your-heart type questions.

I have no idea if Graham actually asked Grant if he was okay being interviewed or if he was simply made to feel it would be in bad form to say “No”. But he didn’t look particularly chuffed at the idea of being able to share his two cents of intellectual capital, so it’s anybody’s guess.

Graham set the ball rolling by asking the slightly exasperated-looking Grant what his “favourite thing” about the Oscars night was. He said, “It’s fascinating.” When asked to expound, he said “all of humanity is here”. Maybe he meant the place was teeming with people, and for all you know, he was bang on. He added it was like “Vanity fair”, which I thought was a smart deflection, worthy of being a nugget for an interviewer to share on her social feed.

Next, Graham asked, “What are you most excited to see tonight?” Grant appeared confused (I would be too), so she demystified it by wanting to know if he was rooting for anyone to win. To which he replied with a perfectly legit: “No one in particular.”

And then Graham kind of flummoxed Grant with “What are you wearing tonight?” — a.k.a., which brand was he sporting? Now I know celebrities are ‘spotted’ in this brand or that at red carpet events and on trips to the supermarket, but I assume these are observations made by those who know fashion and can spot a brand a mile away. There’s something ungainly — and downright intrusive — to be asking someone what ‘brand’ he or she is wearing. Besides, how does it matter if he was wearing a Brioni or a Tom Ford or something he got stitched at Savile Row — or a suit picked up from a thrift store even?

So, when Hugh Grant responded with “Just my suit” and that he couldn’t “remember [his] tailor”, I almost gave him a standing ovation the way the audience did to the 'Naatu Naatu' performance on stage.

Finally, Ashley Graham asked him about his role in the Oscar-nominated Netflix film 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery'. “I’m barely in it,” Grant said. “I’m in it for about three seconds.” Which is not true, but maybe he wasn’t keen to talk about it.

And with that, the exchange wrapped up, and Hugh Grant went his way, while Ashley Graham stayed on course — on the champagne-coloured rug — to choose her next interviewee.

A drama started on social media forthwith. As the interview clip went viral, Grant was labelled the villain: a rude man with zero graces, his behaviour was unacceptable, his responses were too brief/terse, and he was eye-rolling (clearly, no credit to Grant having a ‘mobile’ face, which qualifies him as being almost nonpareil when it comes to comic timing).

These days, mainstream media takes cues from Twitter threads and Instagram handles — so newspapers and websites ran with headlines such as ‘Hugh Grant’s acid, waspish red-carpet interview with Ashley Graham was a toe-curler’, and ‘Hugh Grant accused of obnoxious behaviour to Ashley Graham during disaster Oscars red carpet interview’, and ‘Hugh Grant shuts down Ashley Graham and rolls his eyes at her in awkward Oscars red carpet interview’, and so on.

Soon after, the media also reported — in breathless prose — that ‘victim’ Graham had “come out” with a “dignified” comeback on the matter; a comeback so compelling and newsworthy that one newspaper headlined a report ‘Ashley Graham breaks silence on THAT excruciating Hugh Grant Oscars 2023 interview which saw star shut down model’s questions and roll his eyes at her’. She apparently killed it with one line: “You know what, my mama told me to kill people with kindness.”

On a friend’s social media page, I noticed a post that said the furious backlash transpired because Americans don’t “get” laconic British humour. But this “dumb Americans do not understand deadpan Brit hilarity” line is really a stretch. We don’t live in silos anymore — and especially not at a venue hosting the Oscars’ ‘global stage’.

So what exactly happened out there?

Two things.

One, we live a woke world. Two, we live in a woke world because it is constitutionalised by social media rules: anyone can say anything since they are empowered to voice an opinion — however foolish or misleading.

In an age where we can afford to get outraged at the drop of a hat, at times we read into spaces we think exist — but they actually don’t.

So no, Hugh Grant wasn’t rude. He just didn’t want to fake a demeanour of overarching gusto only because that would be the politically correct thing to do.

He didn’t want to be woke — and more power to him.

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