Hugh Grant has more range than he’s sometimes given credit for. You can currently see him being incredibly serious — and incredibly good — on the HBO’s The Undoing, opposite fellow Paddington baddie Nicole Kidman. But in the public eye, he’s still known as the type he’s played in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and others: witty, self-deprecating, stammering, and cartoonishly British. It’s a role he often leans into in his talk show appearances, even when — as on Tuesday night’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert — he was talking about what it was like to suffer through COVID-19.
As the pandemic seems to be exploding into another wave in the U.S., we could all use some levity, even gallows humor. Grant provided it. He surprised Colbert by revealing that he, and his wife, actually tested positive for the virus in the early days. He started off seriously but quickly turned to amplifying his Hugh Grant-ness.
“It started as just a very strange syndrome where I kept breaking into a terrible sweat. It was like a poncho of sweat. Embarrassing, really,” Grant recalled. “Then my eyeballs felt about three sizes too big and this feeling as though some enormous man was sitting on my chest — sort of Harvey Weinstein or someone.”
This was early days, mind you, back during the last winter, so when Grant realized he was one of the people who’d lost his sense of smell — as some who tested positive did — he was confused. “I thought, ‘I don’t know what this is,’” he said. “And then I was walking down the street one day and I thought, ‘I can’t smell a damn thing.’ And you start to panic.”
Grant said he then started smelling everything he could find. “I started sniffing flowers, nothing,” he said. “And you get more and more desperate. I started sniffing in garbage cans. You know, you want to sniff strangers’ armpits because you just can’t smell anything.”
“I eventually went home and sprayed my wife’s Chanel No. 5 directly into my face,” he added. “Couldn’t smell a thing. But I did go blind!”
It’s classic Hugh Grant. It just happens to be about a highly contagious pandemic that has made 2020 one of the worst on record. But we need some quality humor now, so thank you, Hugh.
You can watch the full interview above. The stuff about COVID starts around the 3:20 mark.