Before Hugh Laurie became one of TV’s highest paid actors for his starring role in Accommodation, he was a regular face in the world of British comedy. The star rose to prominence in the 1980s when he and fellow Cambridge Footlights alumnus Stephen Fry formed the comedy duo Fry and Laurie. The pair landed their own sketch show A bit of Fry and Lauriewhich ran from 1989 to 1995, and they also appeared together on countless other shows, such as black viper and Jeeves and Wooster.
In the 1990s, Laurie found herself in more serious acting roles and film appearances, such as Sense and sensitivity, which starred his ex-girlfriend Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay. Additionally, Laurie’s voice can be heard in the Disney animation. 101 Dalmatiansas good as Stuart Little and an episode of family guy. However, it was his role as Dr Gregory House in the Fox drama Accommodation which earned Laurie worldwide recognition. The actor went on to win multiple Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for his starring role, and by the late 2000s, he was reportedly earning at least $250,000 per episode.
Laurie’s extensive collection of acting credits isn’t all he has to his credit, and he’s also an avid musician. With an affinity for playing guitar, drums, harmonica, piano and saxophone, as well as singing, Laurie decided to release a blues album in 2011, which included collaborations with Tom Jones and Irma Thomas. In addition, Laurie is also interested in writing and in 1996 he published his first novel, titled The Arms Dealer. The book was well received and drew comparisons to the works of PG Wodehouse, with its clever use of comedy to help tell the thrilling story.
So, it’s no surprise that Laurie cited Wodehouse as one of her biggest inspirations, saying that “from the very first sentence of my very first Wodehouse story, life seemed to get bigger.” He cites his favorite Wodehouse novel as The Woosters Code, which is also one of his favorite books of all time. In fact, Laurie got to play the character of Bertie Wooster in the TV adaptation of Wodehouse’s “Jeeves” stories titled Jeeves and Wooster. Speaking of her love for the novel, Laurie says, “Wodehouse is unrivaled as a writer of comic fiction. This book is where my love affair with Wodehouse began. […] Under no circumstances should you drink milk while reading this novel in public.
Laurie also shared her interest in John Le Carré, the spy-turned-author who is perhaps most famous for his spy story. The spy from the cold. The actor declared his love for the novel, saying, “There are few things as beautiful as a well-constructed thriller. […] It has the symmetrical, mathematical precision of a Bach piece, and to this day I feel tingles thinking of the line: ‘And suddenly, with the terrible clarity of a man deceived for too long, Leamas understood all the ‘awful trick.’ ”
The actor’s other favorites include Moby-Dick by Herman Melville and Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – two groundbreaking and essential works of American literature. Laurie says Steinbeck perfectly conveys such a defining period of American history within Grapes of Wrath, stating that “novels that set out to describe great historical events sometimes struggle with scale: too big, and they lose the particular, the personal; too small, and they lose the immensity, the connectedness of all things. Steinbeck describes the experience of migrating “Okies” during the Depression and makes you cry on both scales.
Hugh Laurie’s favorite books:
- The Woosters Code – PG Wodehouse
- The spy who came in from the cold – John Le Carre
- Moby-Dick –Herman Melville
- Grapes of Wrath –John Steinbeck
- Catch-22 –Joseph Heller
- Darwin’s Dangerous Idea –Daniel Dennett
Additionally, Laurie also said she likes Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, referring to the satirical account of the war as “breathtakingly brilliant stuff”. The actor has also expressed an interest in non-fiction, selecting Daniel Dennett’s book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea as another favorite. He says, “You think you can grasp the magnitude of Darwin’s leap and its implications for all human life and thought. And then Dennett shows you that you are only on the ground floor of a majestic skyscraper. Beautiful.”
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