Hugh Laurie backstage at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards

January 9, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards took place on January 8, 2017, at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.

HUGH LAURIE

Golden Globe win:

Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series or Television Film

(“The Night Manager”)

Here is what this Golden Globe winner said backstage in the Golden Globe Awards press room.

Hugh Laurie at the 2017 Golden Globe Awards
Hugh Laurie at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 8, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW

What was your favorite part of working on “The Night Manager”?

[It’s] hard to pick out a favorite part. The whole damn thing was pretty much a dream for me, without wanting to get too maudlin about it. This was a story that I’d fallen in love with almost 25 years ago in the book was published —’93, I think it was published. In fact, it is the only time in my life I’ve ever tried to. I’m not a producer. I have no producing skills or knowledge but I actually tried to option the novel because I thought this has to be on the screen.

And 25 years ago, I rather arrogantly assumed that I would be playing the part that Tom Hiddleston plays, and then my hair fell out, and a number of other things happened, and I wound up being the villain. But I’ve just always believed that the story, the romance of the story, the nobility of the story was so overwhelming to me. Every moment that I was on set, every part of the process of making it was just such a thrill to me. It’s daunting because it mattered so much to me, but it was nonetheless through the whole thing from beginning to end

Who would you most want to work with?

I would honestly would work with Susanne Bier in an instant. I would follow her to the ends of the earth. “The Ends of the Earth” is probably the title of a cable show, now so obviously I have to read the scripts.  Whatever credit there is in this project was entirely hers.

She’s a Danish woman … what I mean is that she was entering a world a very male and very English kind of tribalism. And it would have been daunting for almost anybody, but  such is her intellect and her passion and her energy and her taste that she never wavered— not for one moment—and had control of it from beginning to end. And I would follow her wherever she leads me, I will go.

Is there a special joy in playing a bad guy and if so what is it?

Well, I suppose there is. I’ve always been a bit suspicious of that assumption. Bad people tend to be interesting because thank God they are rare.  Genuinely villainous people are aberrations; you don’t meet them every day. Psychopaths, essentially. And when you do meet them, obviously, a large part of the work is already done for you because they are inherently interesting simply because they’re rare, thank God.

A lot of actors say it’s much harder to make the guy that’s working in the bank interesting than the guy who’s going out committing terrible sins. But I honestly found so much of this story so many I would have played. I would have played the character of Jed if I were given the chance. I would have played any of these characters. I think it’s one of le Carré’s most consummate casts that he ever assembled in a novel—and that, by the way, is saying something because I could think of no better than John le Carré.

I’ve worshipped him pretty much since I could read, but this whole cast of characters, I found of them fascinating, found the character of Corcoran absolutely mesmerizing. I find Pine extraordinary. There’s something very strange and rootless, something sort of occasionally kind of sinister.

You’re looking at a lost soul and a lost soul who is capable of damaging himself and other people in the quest for whatever it is that will give his life meaning. I find them all absolutely fascinating. I can’t remember what your question was, and neither can you. Can we just call it a day?

Are you finding people in real life like your character?

Yes, they undoubtedly exist. The one peculiar thing from my point of view is that I’m not all. I was actually … legally prevented from researching those carriers. I identified a couple of likely candidates upon whom I could base the character, and I was told that under no circumstances could I talk to them because that would give them license to claim that I had to reduce their name in public, and they would then sue. And suing would be the best I could hope for or they might send the boys around.

That’s not to say even allowing for the media’s appetite for sort of gory details of misdeeds in all kinds of spheres, we have this week we seem to be whipping yourself into this frenzied belief that the world is coming to an end, and that there are villainies on the ascendancy. I don’t believe it. I think most people are kind and gentle and considerate and cooperative.

Unfortunately, villainous people, by their nature, have the power to punch above their weight. An unscrupulous person has the power by dint of their lack of scruples to do a huge amount of damage. Nonetheless, they’re rare. I do believe that, generally speaking, people are kind and generous and are getting—if anything—kinder and more generous as the centuries go by. I wasn’t around more than a century ago, I know, but I read a book.