Hugh Grant, as Deadline revealed over the summer, backed out of replacing Charlie Sheen as the star of Two and a Half Men at the last minute. Now he is filming Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent for the Wachowski brothers. But he has reinvented himself over here as a justice campaigner on behalf of celebrities and civilians like himself who had their phones hacked in the News Corp scandal. He has always been ambivalent about being a movie star, and has long talked about doing something different. Asked if he had been wasting his life until now, Grant told The Guardian: “That is harsh, but yes. If I had been a complete failure until the age of 51, I would definitely go along with you but I suppose I have had a few successes. But yes, you are right. I have squandered my life.”
Britain is taking him seriously on the hacking scandal. Grant was giving interviews before meeting Prime Minister David Cameron in Manchester last night. He said he wanted to hear directly from the politician too close to Rupert Murdoch’s organisation. Following the meeting, Grant said that Cameron made “the right noises but I expected him to make the right noises”. Grant alleges that Cameron must have known disgraced Murdoch editor Andy Coulson oversaw a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World before hiring him as his chief PR flack. why he accepted Coulson’s explanation that a lone rogue employee had hacked phones under his News of the World editorship. Grant even warned UK Chancellor George Osborne ahead of time that it would be a “catastrophic mistake” to hire Coulson. Grant told The Times of London that he found himself sitting next to Osborne at a dinner party and had to be calmed down by his hostess because he got so angry over it.
Grant says there’s more to be revealed about the relationship between senior politicians and the Murdoch press. He told the Independent: “The more that comes out about all this, the more we will learn about the true nature of the Prime Minister’s relationship with the Murdoch organisation. What I hear on the Cotswold grapevine [the tony Oxford area where Cameron and ex-News International CEO Rebekah Brooks both live] is that the relationship was sinisterly cosy to a deeply unhealthy and unattractive degree.”
The actor expresses doubts whether the UK government has any real appetite for media reform “or whether their instinct is to push the whole thing into the long grass and go back into the nice cosy old routine of being in bed with Murdoch”. And he thought Rupert Murdoch’s performance before politicians investigating the hacking scandal in July was “phoney”. Grant explained, “Speaking as a bad actor, it was easy to spot a bad performance … my sources tell me he was as a sharp as a tack when they saw him a week or two before.”
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