Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Jimmy Fallon
Photo: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

With the unlikely screen duo of Hugh Grant and Matthew McConaughey appearing on Friday’s Tonight Show to hype Guy Ritchie’s latest attempt to recapture the long-ago cheeky British gangland thrills of Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels, The Gentlemen, Jimmy Fallon thought it’d be hilarious to have the actors read out one of each others’ iconic movie lines. (He also had them play one more game to fill the time, because nobody’s going to confuse his Tonight Show with Inside The Actor’s Studio.) And while it’s cute enough to hear McConaughey’s drawl mimic the British Prime Minister’s profanely polite request for tea and a biscuit, and Grant to snap out Wooderson’s catchphrase as if he were less stoner-chill and more irritatedly going through a troublesome TSA pat-down, the pair were pretty charming, considering they claimed they’d never really met.

Since their characters in The Gentlemen never actually have any scenes together, the actors feigned unfamiliarity, although they goofed around with the amiable charm of two guys who’ve been honing their double act for a while. McConaughey, who plays an ex-pat American weed mogul in England (in the role he was born to play), said the two sort-of passed each other at a read-through once, while Grant deadpanned that McConaughey is, as one might guess, “quite an odd man, actually.” (McConaughey also admitted that, despite the weird, snowy energy in the latest of his widely parodied car commercials, he’s never actually been ice fishing. What’s the company going to do, fire him?) Grant also moaned that he hated working with McConaughey since his co-star has “won bloody Oscars and things,” and that he doesn’t like “working with very good actors,” since they show him up all the time. (Hugh’s doing fine in that department, these days, actually.)

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As to his character, “an incredibly sleazy, repellant reptile of a human being,” who also happens to be a British tabloid reporter, Grant noted that, yes, he’s got plenty of experience under his belt when it comes to getting inside the scaly skin of such people. Noting that his activism against British rags like Rupert Murdoch’s since-shuttered News Of The World—which he successfully sued for hacking his and other celebrities’ phones, among other things—had prepared him to play the film’s accurately amoral snoop Fletcher, Grant also revealed that he keeps accidentally running into the very real reporters who’d so egregiously invaded his privacy all those years ago. Noting that the political candidates with whom he’s taken to door-to-door campaigning (with less success, as it turns out) keep inviting him to host thank you parties where said “journalists” are often in attendance, Grant admitted that, perhaps due to congenital British reserve, he’s unable to hold too much of a grudge. “At each one,” Grant said of these to-dos, “they introduce me to someone who’d done something terrible to me.” You know, like one guy named Bill who, as Grant said some party chat revealed, had been the one who burgled Grant’s flat in search of dirt in 1996. Awkward that, although Grant said he pretended to be unruffled, telling his now-invited guest, “Hi, have a drink. I think you know where everything is.”

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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