Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie on House, fame and LA

A recent poll put Laurie in the top five favourite television personalities in the US, up there with Oprah and Jay Leno. This popularity is due to his role as Dr Gregory House, which has also won him critical acclaim (two Emmys) and financial security (he supposedly gets $200,000 per episode). “That’s an exaggeration. I am being very handsomely paid, though. My ship has come in and I’ll be forever grateful.” He has made three series of House to date, is halfway through the fourth and is signed up for three more. Will he then be able never to work again? “That would depend on how long I live,” he replies (he is 48), with impeccable logic. “If I step under a bus in a week’s time, the answer is yes.”

The holy grail of American television is to make 100 episodes (House is up to 82). “Then you sell it to syndication and it’s on for ever and it will haunt you in a Hong Kong hotel bedroom.” Will he get a slice of that? “I don’t know, I think they have to pay something to the cast.” Er, shouldn’t he find out? “That was all on page 65 of the contract. At the time [when the pilot episode was made] I blindly signed up thinking it wouldn’t go anywhere. I don’t know what the odds are [of a pilot becoming a long-running hit] – one in 100? One in 200? Not that I regret it. It’s just at the time I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into.”

What he was getting himself into was nine months a year in a rented flat in Los Angeles, away from his wife and three children in London, 15 hours of filming a day, sometimes six days a week. For obvious reasons, he is reluctant to complain, yet, “It is a bit of a gilded cage, I suppose. But what are the choices? Everything in life is an exchange of sorts. The one thing that bedevils actors, lack of security, I have gained at the expense of freedom.”
Given that he has mentioned the shrink, how often does he see him? “Once a week for an hour. I’d been doing this job over there for a while, and I hate to use the word stressful – it’s not stressful like being in Baghdad – but it got to me, and continues to do so from time to time in a big way. But things are only stressful if you care about them. Marcus Aurelius, I think it was who said, ‘If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.’”
In House, I ask, how much acting is he doing? “Oh, a lot. I’m working quite hard. I’m conscious of the artifice with every gesture.” Why has the public taken this not very likeable character to its heart? “Oh, he is likeable, he’s just not good. But we don’t only like people because they’re good. He’s funny, honest, very good at what he does. I would like him if I met him, and I also feel absurd talking about a fictional character, so I’d better stop.”


Izar said...

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Someone Loving said...

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