When Good Actors and Bad Questions Collide

“What are you wearing tonight, then?”

Jeremy Helligar
ZORA
Published in
5 min readMar 19, 2023

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Ashley Graham and Hugh Grant at the 2023 Oscars (Photo: ABC)

Last week, for the first time in decades, Hugh Grant broke the Internet — which they didn’t actually say decades ago. So perhaps I should say, for the first time in decades, Hugh Grant was trending.

They didn’t say that decades ago either, but the gist of what happened was the same. Grant went viral, as they’ve been saying for at least a decade now. People were talking about him more than they have since he was caught with his pants down being serviced by a sex worker/prostitute in 1995.

He was trending for a far less embarrassing reason this past week, but he’s being judged just as harshly. The Internet went all judgmental because of a red-carpet interview Grant did on Oscar night (March 12). While being grilled by Ashley Graham, he responded like a grumpy old man who would rather to have been anywhere but there.

I didn’t watch the red-carpet arrivals live on ABC, the network that aired the Oscars (I still stick to E! out of a habit I began during the golden red-carpet age of Queen Joan Rivers), so for five days I had to rely on second-hand criticism I heard and read. Everyone was going on about how Grant was rude to Graham, who, according to Grant’s critics, was simply doing her job. Then I decided to watch the exchange for myself to see what all the ado was about.

As is increasingly the case when the Internet gangs up on a celebrity, it was about pretty much nothing. The conversation started off fairly routinely. Graham asked Grant an innocuous question: “What’s your favorite thing about coming to the Oscars?” She didn’t get the response a young, media-trained starlet like The Little Mermaid’s Halle Bailey would have given.

Grant compared the circus of the stars to ‘Vanity Fair,’ referring not to the magazine but to the 19th century novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. The metaphor went over Graham’s head. She thought he was talking about Vanity Fair magazine’s legendary post-Oscars party. That, apparently, was where she lost Grant.

She went on to ask him questions about Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, a movie in which he made a blink-and-you-might-miss-him cameo (and a movie that Graham weirdly described as a “thriller”), and his…

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Jeremy Helligar
ZORA
Writer for

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa” https://rb.gy/3mthoj