Hugh trapped in House

Hit role be­came bur­den for TV’S top paid ac­tor, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

HUGH Lau­rie says star­ring in US med­i­cal drama House turned into a night­mare though he was the best-paid ac­tor on TV.

The Bri­tish ac­tor, 53, was paid a re­ported $US350,000 ($A339,000) an episode and won two Golden Globes for his long-run­ning role as cur­mud­geonly Dr Gre­gory House.

But his huge suc­cess be­came ‘‘a gilded cage’’, with the ac­tor even fan­ta­sis­ing about hav­ing an ac­ci­dent so he could take a few days off.

The ac­tor tells UK’s Ra­dio Times he had his car win­dows tinted to avoid be­ing snapped by phone cam­eras and stopped buy­ing his own gro­ceries be­cause he hated peo­ple pho­tograph­ing the contents of his bas­ket.

‘‘At this dis­tance it all sounds ab­surd. Ridicu­lous!

‘‘Af­ter all, what was I do­ing other than play­ing about, telling sto­ries with a very nice bunch of peo­ple? What could be con­strict­ing about that?

‘‘But the rep­e­ti­tion of any rou­tine, day af­ter month af­ter year, can turn into a bit of a night­mare.

‘‘I had some pretty bleak times, dark days when it seemed like there was no es­cape. And hav­ing a very Pres­by­te­rian work ethic, I was de­ter­mined never to be late, not to miss a sin­gle day’s film­ing.

‘‘There were times when I’d think, ‘If I had an ac­ci­dent on the way to the stu­dio and win a cou­ple of days off to re­cover, how bril­liant would that be?’"

The ac­tor lived in Los An­ge­les while his wife and three chil­dren stayed in Bri­tain. Re­turn­ing home af­ter al­most eight years took some read­just­ing.

‘‘More so for the fam­ily. For me it’s a de­light to be back with them, to walk the dog, to lis­ten to mu­sic and to read. I’m still ap­pre­ci­at­ing and en­joy­ing it.’’

Lau­rie, the for­mer com­edy part­ner of Stephen Fry, might not be phys­i­cally able to take on such a gru­elling role again. He would like a job di­rect­ing, partly be­cause it would al­low him to wear his own clothes.

‘‘For House I also had a fake wallet with fake money in it, fake keys that didn’t open any­thing and a fake watch that didn’t tell the real time. All I can say right now is that there are things of my own I’m de­vel­op­ing that I’m pretty ex­cited about.’’

Lau­rie, who has spo­ken pre­vi­ously about suf­fer­ing from de­pres­sion, still ex­pects disas­ter to strike.

He adds: ‘‘When you as­sume that the worst is go­ing to hap­pen, you’re freed up from any anx­i­ety about the when and the where of it. Not that I’d ever be fool­ish enough to think I’ve fi­nally got the hang of this life busi­ness.’’

The ac­tor and mu­si­cian is gear­ing up for the re­lease of his sec­ond al­bum, Didn’t It Rain, and is set to star in To­mor­row­land with Ge­orge Clooney.

House: Mon­days to Satur­days, var­i­ous times, TV1.

– SHERNA NOAH

Hugh Lau­rie

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