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Once an actor reaches the twilight of his or her career, their minds often turn to campaigning for various causes. It’s partly a way of using their fame and influence for good (as they see it), but also a good way of remaining in the public eye without having to admit that you’re not the box office people magnet you perhaps once were.
However, I would suggest that Hugh Grant’s recent activity against the entire industry of tabloid press represents a slightly different spin on things. Not only has he taken matters into his own hands, by wearing a wire and taping a conversation with a former tabloid journalist, which only served to confirm everyone’s worst suspicions about what they are capable of, but he seems prepared to absorb whatever negative impact his actions may have upon his future job prospects into the bargain.
In short, he’s not just biting the hand that feeds him, he’s arguing with quite some persuasive force that the food it is holding is rotten, AND he’s not hungry.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Richard Bacon, he said that he’d seen police evidence that his phone had been hacked by an unnamed newspaper, and so had the phones, PIN numbers and bank account details of members of his family and close friends.
When asked if he intended to take legal action, Hugh replied: “I could do, I am just deciding whether to do that or not. The cops came round the other day who are hot on the criminal case, they showed me the evidence.”
He then went on to explain that the commonly held belief that celebrities deserve to have their private lives exposed because their careers depend on press coverage is flawed. Taking his hit film Love, Actually as an example, he said: “Only one actress spoke to a newspaper in publicizing that film. The tabloid press is completely unnecessary in my industry.”
And he went on: “So little do we need the tabloid press that if I won a big libel case against a tabloid I wouldn’t [take compensation], I would want an assurance that they would never mention my name again.”
“We don’t need them. The sooner they go out of business the better. They rely almost entirely on stealing people’s privacy. Those journalists might go back to proper journalism in six or 12 months. They might actually be grateful … they might feel better about themselves.”
Is he right? Tell us here.
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic