5 Surprising Facts about Hugh Laurie
In Roadkill, the 2020 political thriller on MASTERPIECE, Hugh Laurie stars as an ambitious politician on the rise in government and on the run from his past. But did you know that he first appeared on MASTERPIECE in 1990, or that he has another, entirely different, performing arts career? From blues to boats to bestsellers, discover five genuinely surprising facts about Hugh Laurie!
Don’t miss Hugh Laurie in Roadkill on Sundays, November 1-22 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE. Stream episodes as they air right now!
He Starred in Jeeves and Wooster on MASTERPIECE
Hugh Laurie stars in Roadkill as charismatic conservative politician Peter Laurence. But this isn’t his first appearance on MASTERPIECE; in fact, he graced MASTERPIECE’s screens between 1990 and 1995 in four delightful seasons of Jeeves and Wooster, the farcical romp based on PG Wodehouse’s beloved stories. As dimwitted aristocratic layabout Bertie Wooster, Laurie teamed up with his longtime comedic partner Stephen Fry as Jeeves to bring the between-the-wars classic duo to life.
He's a Blues Musician
Laurie’s talents aren’t limited to the screen or the stage—that is, acting on stage—as he also has a successful career as a musician. From the days of Jeeves and Wooster and Fry and Laurie, to House, to hosting Saturday Night Live, Laurie has put his musical talents to use in his acting. But as a pianist and vocalist, also he’s fronted and toured with his blues band, the Copper Bottom Band, and toured as part of the charity cover band, Band from TV. He’s released two solo albums, Didn’t it Rain and Let Them Talk, a celebration of New Orleans blues featuring collaborations with blues legends Irma Thomas, Dr. John, and Allen Toussaint.
In a 2013 interview with Larry King, who asked him if he enjoys music more than acting, he replied, “I do, I do,” later explaining, “I think actors become actors because they want to hide—they put on masks, they want to be someone else. When you’re doing music, even when you’re playing a character in a song, there’s still an element of removing masks; it’s about exposing yourself, it’s about being vulnerable. And there’s an intimacy to that, and an honesty in that relationship with an audience, which I think is very, very precious when it’s right.”
He's a Novelist
Some may call him a polymath, others a triple-threat, because he’s not just an actor and a musician; he’s also a best-selling writer! In his 1996 spy spoof The Gun Seller, Laurie comedically takes on international intrigue, terrorists, and CIA spooks via his unwitting, hapless hero, ex-soldier Thomas Lang.
He Made a Guinness World Record
As the eponymous character in the long-running TV series House, Laurie made the Holmesian, misanthropic, Vicodan-addicted Dr. Gregory House a household name stateside and worldwide. In 2011, he was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most watched leading man on TV.
Post-House, Laurie has reached new cohorts of fans as Veep‘s devious, charming nemesis, Senator Tom James; The Night Manager‘s bloodless arms trader Richard Roper; and Avenue 5‘s American hero straight out of central casting, Captain Clark.
He Rowed for Cambridge before Joining the Footlights
Laurie’s legendary friendship and partnership with Jeeves and Wooster co-star Stephen Fry began at Selwyn College, Cambridge, when, introduced by actress Emma Thompson, they began writing together for the legendary Footlights dramatic club. Laurie arrived at Cambridge by way of the elite private school, Eton, where he took up rowing, like his Olympic rowing gold medalist father, and won a Junior World Rowing title. At Cambridge, Laurie majored in archaeology and anthropology and continued rowing, competing in the annual Cambridge/Oxford showdown, the Boat Race, in 1980, where Cambridge lost to its rival in what was called the closest finish of the century. Laurie was awarded a “Blue” (the university’s greatest honor for competition at the highest level of sport). But a bout of mononucleosis derailed the serious oarsman’s competitive training, and in its wake, Laurie gravitated toward the Cambridge Footlights. It was there that he got his first taste of what would become a rich career of varied and complex comedic and dramatic roles.