Hugh Grant talks role in 'News of the World' takedown, awesomely defeats foe with charming aplomb


Image Credit: Felix Kunze/

Despite the fact that Hugh Grant has been relatively absent from the film scene since 2009’s Did You Hear About the Morgans?, the British actor has been quite busy. Doing what, you ask? Why, helping take down Britain’s News of the World, which announced Thursday it would shut down following a hacking scandal involving murder victim Milly Dowler. (The publication had broken into Dowler’s voicemail while reporting the story.) As EW reported back in April, the 50-year-old actor wrote a piece for the New Statesman about how he secretly recorded former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan, who admitted that former editor Andy Coulson and owner Rupert Murdoch were aware that hacking occurred at the publication. Now, amidst the news that the publication is closing its doors, the actor is speaking out once again about his piece, and still fighting back against the journalist who exposed him to the publication’s immoral practice.

“I was revolted and astonished,” Grant told the BBC about when he learned his phone had been hacked.He noted that he was even more surprised to learn that the hacking practice occurred at most tabloids, and often times involved police. And McMullan also helped the actor get all the proof he needed that Dowler’s phone had been tapped into when the former News of the World journalist told Grant that the hacking “most certainly happened.”

Interestingly enough, the BBC also welcomed McMullan, who attempted to brush off Grant’s exposé by saying he was more upset that the actor didn’t pay for his beer on the day Grant recorded him. “It was hilarious,” McMullan said. “How can Hugh Grant coming into your pub with a silly little pen trying to record you be anything other than hilarious? I didn’t mind being turned over.” Then, however, the conversation got a bit more caustic, as McMullan tried to insist that readers had no sympathy for the invasion of privacy against Grant. After all, the actor picks up several million dollars for each film project — wasn’t any tabloid fodder about him part of the publicity game? Grant responded, “Do you think the family and friends of Milly Dowler … think that it’s a game? Think it’s funny? You think they’re earning $5 million quid a film? … You guys have no morals, no scruples at all. You didn’t care who got hurt, so long as you were able to sell your newspapers a lot of money. Your only motive was profit. You’re not journalists. You have no interest in journalism. It’s just money money money.”

Well, after Grant’s awesome takedown, I’ll say I’m even more excited for 2012’s The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Come back for good, Hugh!

Read more:
Hugh Grant secretly records chat with former tabloid journalist for true exposé

Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • jk

    Hugh Grant went from nearly useless, to moral crusader. I’m actually stunned…

    • k

      Why was he nearly useless?

    • Ross

      Jk, do you work for Rupert Murdoch, or did you just want to make yourself look ignorant? Talk about missing the entire point of the story.

  • flicketyflack

    I read Hugh Grant’s New Statesman piece when it came out. Thanks for posting the BBC video link, I only wish they would’ve showed more. Well done Hugh Grant. I don’t care if this is a crusade for him but I’m glad he’s out there taking on the tabloids and also calling out the British government and anybody who cooperates with them.

  • Yo

    I am astonished the American public doesn’t seem to have much interest in this story. It can happen here.

    • Al

      Considering that Rupert Murdoch owns large newspapers in the U.S. along with Fox News, it probably is.

      • wino

        good point Al

      • Timo

        Don’t be astonished. I think most Americans think anything electronic is open to hacking. Anything they say or do that is sent through the atmosphere or cables is pretty much there for anyone. We have no sense of privacy or outrage when it’s breached. And I think we’re a sadder, harder people for it.

      • topazbean

        I think it’s probably similar to what happened in Britain. This story has been five years in the making. Everyone, including the police, were afraid to speak out or put pressure on the Murdoch empire, because they didn’t want to become a target of their news machine’s negative press – same as many individuals and groups likely feel in the States. It’s too huge and has too much power to the point that it affects how state institutions conduct their business (it can’t help that NOTW also bribed the police for stories). Hilariously, some have said that the News of the World’s takedown is proof that market forces work, because advertisers stopped buying space in the paper. Ridiculous considering that it’s taken 5 years and constant pressure from a liberal paper to get to this point while most commentators and law enforcers were determined to look the other way. Besides which I don’t doubt most of those 160 people who lost their jobs at the paper had nothing to do with any of it. Murdoch is playing a very clever game of making sure that everyone pays attention to that one paper, which he wanted an excuse to dump anyway, and doesn’t look too closely at where the real power and decision-making is based. Yet everyone knows that Murdoch and the executives at News International wield enormous power when it comes to the editorial lines of their journalists. If people were feeling pressured to hack phones in order to get the biggest scoop, and didn’t think twice about breaking the law and people’s privacy to do so, that pressure came straight from the top.

    • Julia Putnam

      Please believe it does.

    • Tweety

      Reminds me of what M.I.A. did to that Hirschy woman from the New York Times who tried to frame her.
      Everyone’s in on M.I.A.’s tactics now

  • Paul S.

    Was this article translated through a computer from another language???

    While I applaud Mr. Grant’s heroic actions, it was hard to concentrate on them due to the staggering amount of typos in this article, particularly the third paragraph.

    • RyRyNYC

      Yes, I noticed the same thing, too.

    • Thanks for noticing…

      My favorite is: $5 million quid. What currency is that? dollar quid?

      • Tom

        Squid currency, naturally.

      • Penny

        First, it’s a quote from Hugh. Second, “quid” is slang in UK for the British Pound. Google is your friend.

      • Penny’s Friend

        Penny, the problem is that a currency cannot be both dollar ($) and quid. So the dollar sign is a typo.

  • scottm

    Murdoch is terrifying and Grant is being very brave about this. An MP asked the head of the current News International, Rebekah Brooks if they paid police which she said yes. ^ months later the sun outed him as gay as pay back. Pure evil.

  • Lishka9

    Brilliant! Thank you, Mr. Grant for putting an end to a deplorable practice. Now that Brits are aware, anyone wonder if FOX wouldn’t, or didn’t, go to the same lengths in the US? If Murdoch allowed or even encouraged it Britain, what scruples would he suddenly have obtained over his business practices at FOX and other interests here? At the first hint of a possible US link the FCC and Justice department should be on alert checking here. Welcome to that “global network”,

    • Meli

      The practice won’t go away unless or until tabloid journalists in the US are caught doing the same thing and they’re sent to jail. Otherwise, they’ll just move over here and continue.

      • Lisa Simpson

        The practice won’t go away until it becomes unprofitable. People need to stop buying these rags.

      • SisterZip

        Lisa Simpson, you are absolutely right. Stop buy the crap and they will stop. But the mags & rags we used to think of as ‘honorable’ are starting to get just as bad.

      • topazbean

        News International could actually be prosecuted in the US because they bribed police in the UK for information (eg. the names of anonymous rape victims), which falls under US law as a corrupt foreign practice. It doesn’t matter where they did it – the US have outlawed any US based companies bribing officials anywhere in the world to increase profits, which is what they did. While it’s unlikely that an individual could be prosecuted in the US, if, for example, it emerges that James Murdoch knew about the bribery, he could be charged/jailed/severely fined in the US.

  • Eleanor

    I still cant believe that this isnt a bigger story in America. I know Murdoch owns and controls so much of the media there, but its at the point that other news corp papers in the UK have had to report on it. Its a huge huge scandal that has resulted in arrests, the closure of one of the longest running newspapers and has some serious implications for the Prime Minister David Cameron who employed Andy Coulson as director of communications for the government.

    • Zanny the Nanny

      I’m sure if I was involved then the American public would pay more attention.

    • Rob

      I don’t even think this was mentioned in Murdochs US paper, The NY Post…or on his TV station, Fox News. Just goes to show how NOT fair & balanced they are.

    • maggie

      The biggest news channel in America is Fox News, which is also owned by Rupert Murdoch. They aren’t going to report on something illegal their own company did. If it was another media company, Fox News & other Murdoch companies like the NY Post & Wall Steet Journal would be making this a huge story.
      I’m wondering if Murdoch does phone hacking in the US as well? The US needs to look into this as Murdoch has shown that he’s OK with it.

      • tomm

        Fox N. is biggest on cable, ahem, the Big 3 networks are still larger.

      • maggie

        I said news channel. The big 3 are entertainment networks that have some news. Stories get public attention, and outrage, by the repetition a 24-hours-a-day news channel gives. Would we even know who Casey Anthony is without them?

  • PlotinusWoolf

    …genius can be bounded in a nutshell and yet embrace the whole fullness of life.
    – Thomas Mann


    • Two Headed Sex Beast

      I’d rather be rich than stupid.
      – Jack Handy

      • PlotinusWoolf

        Direct your ” heads ” to eat themselves.

      • Two Headed Sex Beast

        I was already planning to.

      • zipzap

        @two headed: if you ‘were already planning to’ than how can you ever ‘be rich’ ?

      • Two Headed Sex Beast

        @zipzap No no, I was planning to direct my “heads” to eat themselves per PlotinusWoolf’s suggestion.

  • Rob

    This whole story is stunning. I’ve been following this whole fiasco and what the News of the World did is disgusting. Basically, who WASN’T hacked? It just shows how much influence Murdoch and his cronies have, not just in politics but in what you read about…they don’t report the news, they ‘create’ the headlines from their hacking. They bribe British police to look the other way. They have the British politicians in their pockets…PM David Cameron best friends with the main players involved. I wonder if HE knew about any of this and is trying to save face. I hope this isn’t true with Murdochs NY Post.

  • Tully

    Well done, Hugh Grant!

  • maggie

    Good for you Hugh Grant!
    There is no reason for any media outlet to hack into phones of anyone, no matter if they are famous or not. Even famous people have the right to some privacy. But to hack into the phone of a missing girl was evil. The poor girl had been kidnapped and murdered. She may have still been alive for awhile and they could have saved her. But NOTW caused the family and police to think she was still alive and maybe a runaway.
    Rupert Murdoch and his company are immoral. Anyone who trusts Fox News needs to know how disgusting the people running that company are.

    • PlotinusWoolf

      The media is out of control. Hugh Grant is risking his life to uncover the truth.

    • Frank

      Maggie, you make ther really important points! Was she still alive during (part of) the hacking? Did the hacking interfere with some use the police might have made of that phone/phone account, to keep her alive? Could these bastards have known if this was possible or not?

      • Eleanor

        I think she was killed the day she was abducted, but was missing for quite some time. The NOTW not only hacked her phone to listen to the voicemails, but deleted some of them as the inbox was filling up and because there was phone activity, the police and more importantly her parents thought she was still alive. Then the NOTW interviewed the parents about their hopes for finding their daughter still alive, based on what they had done with her phone!

        There are allegations that the phone of victims of the 7/7 bombing and families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan were also hacked. Its an absolute disgrace.

      • topazbean

        The suggestion has been that the police did not think this might mean she was alive, but it did give the parent’s hope. However, it interfered with the police investigation because if Milly had known her killer there may have been voicemails from them on her phone, for example, asking to meet. Having the messages deleted left them unsure of what was going on in that respect.

  • tomm

    While Fox News brags about being ‘fair and balanced’, the parent company approves hacking into families of fallen soldiars!

    Also, glad to see News Corp lose $$$ over this. Hit them where it hurts!

    Fox News may have to cut some of their blonde lady news readers as a result. Maybe even cut Sarah P. since she is not worth her salary.

  • Dicazi

    Yellow journalism at its absolute worst! Those responsible deserve jail time! And thanks to Grant for his role in exposing them.

  • Mary Dawes

    Hugh Grant for PM. Need I say more??!! Hugh you were brilliant on Question Time last night. You spoke with moral conviction and from the heart.

  • Tman

    So if you ever thought, that tabloid journalism is about people’s right to know and about exposing immoral activisties by those in power, you were wrong.

    Tabloid journalism is about some greedy losers who envy so much other peoples success they just lose everything else. People like McMullan should really seek for a therapist.

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