Sharing a name with Hugh Grant never felt like a big deal until one night in 1995. After that, my name became a huge talking point – and still is to this day.
A year after Four Weddings and a Funeral became a hit, Grant was arrested in Los Angeles for oral sex in a public place with a sex worker.
The next day it felt like everyone I had ever met phoned to ask if I had seen the news and point out I shared a name with him.
It was a huge news story at the time, and I’m sure everyone heard the standard questions of ‘How could he do that to Liz?’ (referring to Elizabeth Hurley, his then girlfriend) and ‘Do you think this will be the end of his career?’.
It clearly wasn’t – his BAFTA and Golden Globe can attest to that – and the conversation around his scandalous behaviour soon turned into praise for his films, like Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Love Actually.
To be honest though, regardless of whether people are talking about him in a positive or negative light, it’s always served me well. In the early days of his fame I was in sales, and nothing breaks the ice like people realising you share a name with a celeb.
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I’ve had every response you could think of.
‘Has everyone ever told you you have the same name as Hugh Grant?’
I always pretend not to know. It’s a lot funnier than shutting down the conversation straight away.
‘Is that your name? Did you change your name to his?’
I’m usually quite surprised by that question, as I didn’t think it was something people did. But given how often people ask me though, it would appear it is.
Another favourite is: ‘Oh, so your parents named you after the actor?’
That one tickles me because the other Hugh Grant and I are around the same age.
Even when I go to Spain, and there’s a language barrier, I’ll say my name and suddenly people will try to make conversation about it. They’ll laugh, and in their lovely Spanish accent say, ‘Hugh Grant – you’re famous’.
I know some could find having to answer the same questions time and time again frustrating, but I really welcome it. It’s all good fun.
That is, apart from the many times that utilities companies and credit card companies screw up my bill – who knows for what reason – and I have to spend ages on hold, only to be greeted on the other end with, ‘Are you the real Hugh Grant?’
When you’re not in a good mood to begin with, the harmless small talk becomes a bit annoying!
You may think, ‘I’m sure people don’t bring up your name that often’ but I assure you, nine out of ten times when I tell someone my name, they will respond with ‘like the actor?’ People just can’t let it go!
It’s not like the one person who doesn’t say anything isn’t complicit too, they usually have a big smirk plastered across their face.
Sometimes, you don’t even want to tell people your surname, just to stop them from making the connection.
I think the most interesting part of us sharing a name is how it’s impacted what people think of me.
When you talk to people on the phone they hear a voice saying ‘I’m Hugh Grant’, they’re picturing what you look like. In their mind, you must look like the actor.
When I show up, you can see their jaw drop open and their eyes as big as plates. Some of them even say that I wasn’t what they were expecting.
I always enjoy meeting people after a phone call, it’s good fun for me to see the look on their faces. Especially on the odd occasions when people have told me I’m better looking than him!
I think part of the reason I get the comments so much is because me and him look so different.
And I really don’t see them stopping any time soon. I’ve had the exact same responses to my name for 25 years and imagine it will go on forever.
While he may not be as controversial as he once was, Hugh Grant is still starring in blockbusters, and though he’s unusually private for a celebrity, he still causes headlines any time he is vocal about issues like Brexit. Just like me, he’s vehemently Remain.
There are definitely worse people to share a name with, and I do enjoy his movies – especially Sense and Sensibility and About a Boy – and sense of humour.
I’ve never had any contact with him, but I’d love to. As a PT, I occasionally think about how funny it would be to train him. ‘Hugh Grant spotted working out with his trainer Hugh Grant’ – I can almost see the headlines.
But just sharing a name with him has been good PR for me. It helps small talk with new clients and I’m easier to stumble across on Google by people searching for the other Hugh Grant.
I remember my website designer asking whether I was sure I wanted to include my name on the site ‘in case he sues you’. I had to remind him it was my name too!
Needless to say, HughGrantFitness is legal action free – but Hugh, if you do want me to train you, all you need to do is ask.
You can find out more about Hugh Grant and his business on his website, Facebook and Instagram.
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