The 1981 drama Mommie Dearest is one of those rare ’80s classics that was critically panned at the time of its release and has since ascended to cult status. It’s a dark, semi-biographical retelling of the relationship between Joan Crawford and her daughter Christina, played by Faye Dunaway and Diana Scarwid, respectively. And now, on the eve of the release of his decidedly brighter, also semi-biographical film Florence Foster Jenkins, Hugh Grant tackles the Crawford role head-on in this decidedly scary rendering of a Mommie Dearest monologue.
“I have a feeling I’m going to be rather good,” Grant begins this episode of W’s Casting Call series, before launching into his tirade. Though the actor, perhaps best known for roles as the romantic lead in such films as Notting Hill, About a Boy, and Bridget Jones’s Diary, is not exactly known for being the villainous type, he really goes all-out channeling the late Crawford.
“No,” he growls. “Wire hangers! What’s wire hangers doing in this closet?” He stutters for a moment and presses on, pausing only to interject, “See? I’m pretty good.” (He never said he was humble.) It’s over the top and outrageous, and we can’t imagine a better way to treat the film than with a little irreverence and exaggeration.
Grant takes a decidedly more saccharine approach in his latest, Florence Foster Jenkins, the Stephen Frears-directed musical comedy in which he plays the husband of Meryl Streep’s titular character, an aspiring opera singer with no sense of pitch, or rhythm, or melody. Florence Foster Jenkins opens Friday.