A Bit Of Hugh Laurie

Dateline: July 16, 2000

Lanky comedy actor Hugh Laurie has been a familiar presence on British TV in everything from Blackadder to Jeeves and Wooster, and now is carving out a career in motion pictures. For your pleasure, a bit of Hugh Laurie.

He was born in 1959, attended the prestigious Eton school as a boy, and then matriculated to Cambridge University. Among his classmates were Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry, where all three of them participated in Footlights Dramatic Club doing comedy and shows. This "old school tie" wasn't lost on writer Ben Elton when he had Laurie, Thompson and Fry hilariously parody themselves as upperclass twits participating in University Challenge on a memorable episode of The Young Ones in 1984.

He frequently teamed up Fry, and soon became a regular member of the Blackadder troupe after two guest appearances in the second season playing a drunk at Blackadder's booze up, and Evil Prince Ludwig. In Blackadder The Third he was the thick Prince Regent who was constantly outsmarted by Rowan Atkinson's cunning butler. For Blackadder Goes Forth, he was Lieutenant George, still upperclass and a bit dim, but generally a nice person.

He and Fry continued their partnership, bringing P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster to television for ITV in 1990, with Laurie as clueless Bertie Wooster, and Fry as his ever-knowing butler Jeeves. These charming period adaptations captured the spirit and comedy of the material, and also afforded Laurie a chance to show off his piano playing talent on occasion.

The BBC came calling and the aptly named A Bit of Fry and Laurie gave the duo the opportunity for their own sketch comedy series. On the big screen, Kenneth Branagh cast them both (along with his then-wife Emma Thompson, their old schoolchum) in 1992's Peter's Friends.

The following year, Laurie took a serious turn in the drama mini-series All Or Nothing At All about a married man living beyond his means who everyone thinks is a financial wizard. They all give him huge sums of money to invest, not realizing he is merely blowing it at the track - and running up a huge debt. Laurie held his own and it was riveting stuff watching him be a one-man self-destruction unit.

Bit parts in movies like Spice World and The Man In The Iron Mask helped Laurie increase his visibility in Hollywood and he was rewarded a leading part in the 1999 hit Stuart Little. And old friend Ben Elton cast Laurie as the lead in his Maybe Baby, as a man trying to conceive a baby with his wife, played by Joely Richardson. Laurie will also appear in the sequel to Stuart Little in 2001. Early in 2000 he also guest starred in an episode of Reeves and Mortimer's remake of Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased on the BBC.

Besides acting and comedy, Laurie has written the best-selling thriller The Gun Seller, is working on a screenplay for the film version, and has a second novel being published in 2000.

Previous Features