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Hugh Grant: Going rogue in The Gentlemen was part of the appeal and fear

The Gentlemen star on how his new role is so different from past ones

LONDON: Hugh Grant is best known for playing the bumbling Englishman in romantic comedies, so when the role of a Cockney-accented private investigator in Guy Ritchie's new crime caper came up, he was a little hesitant to portray someone so different.

The English actor plays the shady Fletcher in The Gentlemen, a far cry from his roles in Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill.

"That was part of the appeal but also part of the fear," Grant said. "I thought, I am 59 now. Is it too ludicrous to suddenly be this guy completely from the other side of the tracks with a full-on London accent? Guy said, 'No, no, no, no. You can do it. Just own it.' So I went for it."

Opening here on Feb 27, The Gentlemen marks the return of British writer-director Ritchie to his crime-film roots as he helms a comedy-drama filled with fishy characters.

Matthew McConaughey plays US expat Mickey Pearson, who has built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London.

When word gets out that he is looking to cash out of the business, it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him.

Ritchie found fame with Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) before directing the Sherlock Holmes films and Disney's live-action version of Aladdin.

"I am not sure if I missed (crime capers), it is just as you get older... I want to manifest more work," he said.

"This is a script I wrote 15 years ago. The genesis of it was... from a while ago and it just felt like now was the time to make it."

The cast includes Colin Farrell as a no-nonsense boxing coach, Charlie Hunnam as Pearson's right-hand man, Henry Golding as a gangster and Michelle Dockery as Pearson's glamorous wife.

Fletcher works for a tabloid newspaper and Grant, who was a real-life victim of phone-hacking by reporters, said he drew from his past for inspiration.

"I've come across a lot of private investigators who work for tabloid newspapers... and some of them I had lunch with before the film. We've sort of become friends. Weirdly, these are people who hacked my phone. Some of them have been to prison for it, but now I am quite friendly with (them)."  - REUTERS

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