Hugh trapped in House
Hit role became burden for TV’S top paid actor, writes
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