Hugh Laurie Biography
Hugh Laurie is a popular actor and a recipient of the Order of the British Empire. He gained fame in his homeland through sketches he filmed with Stephen Fry, and achieved international recognition for his role as Dr. House in the eponymous series. He has also established himself as a talented blues musician, writer, and screenwriter. Moreover, he's a proud father of three children, who he considers the main purpose of his life.
Childhood and Youth
James Hugh Calum Laurie was born and raised in the historic English town of Oxford, known for its oldest university in Europe. His father, William Laurie, was fond of rowing in his youth and won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games. After finishing his sports career, Ran earned a medical degree and became a family doctor in Oxford. His wife, Patricia Laidlaw, took care of the household and raised their four children.
Hugh was the youngest and quite a late child. Usually, such kids are pampered, but in the Laurie family, it was different. The parents, originally from Scotland, strictly adhered to the traditions of the Presbyterian Church and instilled them in their children from an early age. Hard work, modesty, and virtue were encouraged, while excessive displays of love and affection were considered sinful weakness. Because of this, Hugh was always very demanding of himself - he took successes for granted, but failures and defeats upset him terribly.
Hugh received an excellent education - first, he studied at the junior Oxford school Dragon School, then - at the private boarding school for boys in Eton. He was a class president, played in the school orchestra. Following his father's example, he took up rowing and achieved excellent results. In 1977, he became the UK junior champion and had the opportunity to represent the country at the World Championship. He participated in prestigious competitions between Oxford and Cambridge and could have claimed a gold Olympic medal if it hadn't been for infectious mononucleosis, which ended his sports career.
The Footlights Dramatic Club, a student theater organized at Cambridge University where he enrolled after leaving Eton College, helped Laurie overcome depression. During the day, Laurie studied anthropology and archaeology, and in the evenings, he performed in amateur plays. At the theater, Hugh met Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry, and found faithful friends and like-minded people in them.
Duet with Stephen Fry
After earning his university degree, Hugh already knew that he wouldn't pursue a career in his field of study. He felt an irresistible pull towards the arts and decided to follow his passion. In 1981, Laurie became the president of the Footlights Dramatic Club, where he and his loyal friends staged the comedy "The Cellar Tapes". This play won the newcomers their first theatre award and a contract to broadcast it on one of the British TV channels.
The talented trio caught the attention of producers who offered them a chance to work in a comedy sketch show. After gaining the necessary experience, Laurie and Fry formed a comedy duo and created their own show "A Bit of Fry and Laurie", which aired on BBC from 1989 to 1995.
Simultaneously, the guys worked on the adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's humorous stories about the young wealthy aristocrat Wooster and his butler Jeeves. In the eponymous series, they played the lead roles, with Laurie also personally performing several ragtime music compositions, adding a unique charm to his character.
Also worth mentioning is the series "Blackadder" (1983-1989), where Laurie played several characters, and the main role was played by the future Mr. Bean - Rowan Atkinson.
The iconic sitcom "Friends" also deserves a mention, where Laurie played one of the airplane passengers alongside Rachel and Ross. The pinnacle of his acting career was his role as Dr. House in the eponymous TV series, which was recognized as one of the most successful medical dramas worldwide and even made its way into the Guinness World Records.
Originally, they were looking for an American actor for the lead role, but the series producer Bryan Singer insisted on Hugh Laurie after being impressed with the Briton on the set of the adventure film "Flight of the Phoenix".
Laurie's British accent did not bother Singer, and Laurie was able to shake it off relatively quickly. The actor's perfect pitch helped him accurately mimic any accent. Moreover, having grown up in a doctor's family, Laurie was familiar with the profession and greatly respected it.
For this role, the actor had to step out of his usual comedic roles. After all, Dr. House is a rather gloomy character, albeit incredibly charming.
Filming lasted for eight years, and all this time the actor had to stay away from his wife and three children. Hugh never got used to the noisy and bustling life in the States, although he bought a house in Los Angeles when he realized that the project was successful and the shooting would clearly drag on.
At the end of the fifth season, Hugh became one of the producers of the series and personally directed several episodes. He earned $400,000 per episode, and by the end of the eighth season, the fee reached $700,000 per shift. The series lasted 8 seasons, and Laurie went from being a relatively unknown British actor to one of the highest-paid stars of American television, forever immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This allowed him not to worry about earning a living after the project ended and to do only what he liked.
In 2016, the Anglo-American series "The Night Manager" was released, in which Laurie played the role of arms dealer Richard Roper and received his third Golden Globe for it (the first two were for Dr. House). This topic had long interested the actor - in 1996 he wrote and published the book "The Gun Seller", which became a bestseller and was translated into other languages.
In 2018, the actor played Mycroft Holmes in the American television parody of Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal novel "Holmes & Watson". It's interesting that Laurie agreed to participate in this film, although he had previously thought that enough films based on this work had already been made.
2020 was marked by two high-profile premieres featuring Laurie. In the comedic sci-fi series "Avenue 5", he played the captain of a spaceship, and in the political thriller "Roadkill", he appeared as a politician, a high-ranking member of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom.
As a schoolboy, Laurie mastered the piano, guitar, and harmonica, and played drums in a school band during his senior years. At the age of ten, he first heard blues music and has been passionate about it ever since.
In many films, the actor has repeatedly showcased his musical talent and also played the keyboard in the Band From TV, which consisted of American TV series actors and donated all concert proceeds to charity.
Several of their compositions were included in the "House M.D." soundtrack, and after filming ended, Laurie decided to form his own band, the Copper Bottom Band. Before this, he had already released his debut solo album "Let Them Talk," which was well received in Europe. In support of it, the musician gave a concert in the birthplace of blues, New Orleans.
In 2012, the Copper Bottom Band embarked on a world tour, during which they performed in Moscow, Kiev, and Saint Petersburg. In 2013, they released the second album, "Didn't It Rain," featuring compositions in blues, R'n'B, jazz, and tango styles.
Hugh Laurie's Personal Life
During his studies at the University of Cambridge, Hugh had a romance with future actress Emma Thompson, which over time transformed into a strong, long-lasting friendship and creative partnership. He then had a relationship with a fellow student named Kate.
Hugh's wife, Jo Green, was a very non-social and unremarkable girl in appearance who won Hugh over with her light-hearted nature combined with worldly wisdom. She worked as a theatre administrator, and they often found themselves in the same company. Prone to depression and introspection, Hugh needed such a positive and sensible life partner, so he didn't delay in proposing and in 1988 he made Jo an offer, after going through a painful breakup with Kate.
Their family quickly expanded - one after another, sons Charles (1989), William (1991) and daughter Rebecca (1993) were born. All the children were christened by Laurie's best friend Stephen Fry, who was also the best man at their wedding.
The couple has been together for over thirty years, although their exemplary union has not been without family troubles. After sixteen years of marriage, Hugh succumbed to temptation and had an affair with television director Audrey Cook, a beautiful, young and powerful woman who was used to getting everything she wanted from life. But not this time - Jo stepped in after her unfaithful husband confessed everything. She didn't make a scene, but simply sent a letter to her rival, detailing how depressed, gloomy, and irritable Hugh can be in his worst moments. In the end, she asked if Audrey was ready to sacrifice her life for such a man? There was no reply, and Cook disappeared from Laurie's life forever.
Hugh was also rumored to have an affair with his "House M.D." co-star Lisa Edelstein, who played hospital director Cuddy, but these rumors quickly died down without any confirmation. Now, the actor never tires of expressing his love for his wife, who remains his reliable support, faithful friend, and caring mother of his children.
In his free time, Laurie likes to hop on his beloved bike and go somewhere far away from prying eyes and noisy hustle. In these moments, he composes music, comes up with ideas for new books and scripts, or simply indulges in philosophical reflections on the transience of the world.
Hugh Laurie Now
In 2023, Hugh Laurie lent his voice to the animated film "The Amazing Maurice", an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's novel. He voiced the main character - a cheeky cat named Maurice, who helps a rat pack escape from rat catchers. In November of the same year, the mini-series "All the Light We Cannot See" premiered on Netflix, in which Laurie played Etienne LeBlanc, one of the central characters.
He also worked on the series "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" based on Agatha Christie's detective novel of the same name. In the project, he served as director and screenwriter, and the main roles were played by Lucy Boynton and Will Poulter. Laurie explained his choice of this novel for adaptation as follows: "I find this novel unusual. It has a kind of light comic spirit. I think there's something trendy about it. I think these are trendy characters, and it's a trendy story".
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