Hugh Grant on having coronavirus: ‘I started sniffing in garbage cans’


I have a Hugh Grant problem. I have always found him delightful even though I know he’s a curmudgeon and probably an ass. It started with Four Weddings and a Funeral, when he reminded me of my best friend. So I’ve become a long-term Hugh Grant apologist. No matter what he’s talking about, he makes it sound so charming – even his description of battling coronavirus. As he’s explaining what it’s like to lose his ability to smell, I’m batting my eyelashes thinking, “gosh, I’ll bet it’d be fun to sniff garbage cans with Hugh.” Hugh called into Stephen Colbert’s show to promote The Undoing on HBO. He told Stephen he was calling from a deserted hotel in London due to the recent second lockdown in England, which is when the conversation turned to COVID. Hugh said he and his wife, Anna Eberstein, got it in February and slowly realized what was happening as their symptoms. He said his first symptoms were extreme, but it was when he lost his sense of smell that he knew it was probably coronavirus. However, he kept trying to smell stronger and stronger scents because he didn’t want to believe he had it. I’m posting his quotes from E! first because when you read them, they sound frightening.

Hugh Grant and his wife Anna Eberstein have recovered after battling coronavirus early on in the pandemic.

During a virtual conversation with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, Nov. 10, The Undoing star revealed that he experienced symptoms in February. “It started as just a very strange syndrome where I kept breaking into a terrible sweat,” the 60-year-old said on The Late Show. “It was like a poncho of sweat, embarrassing really. Then my eyeballs felt about three sizes too big and this…a feeling as though an enormous man was sitting on my chest, Harvey Weinstein or someone.”

Then, Grant realized he couldn’t smell anything while walking down the street and he started to “panic.”

“By then people were just starting to talk about this as a symptom,” he told Colbert. “And I started sniffing flowers, nothing. 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.”

[From E!]

Earlier in the interview Hugh said that he had just recently been tested and still has the antibodies, which is confirmation that what he suffered in February was coronavirus. It also sounds like none of Hugh’s children (“dozens”, as Hugh joked) got the virus, which is good. They do not get into details about why Hugh is in a hotel and whether his family is elsewhere. He speaks briefly about quarantining with his wife and their children the first time. My guess is he is probably in the hotel for promotional duties, but my other guess is he signed up for that as soon as he could to avoid being stuck in the house with toddlers again. I get it, I couldn’t do it and I’m a decade younger than him.

However, while discussing his first lockdown with his young children, Hugh goes deep on his newfound appreciation for Barbies, which came from playing them with his kids. Stephen tries to cheapen it by turning it into “Barbie porn.” I know Stephen has a show to sell but as a Keyholder of the Malibu Barbie House Society (that’s not a real thing, don’t worry), I can tell a true Barbie fan from another and I think Hugh gets – I mean truly understands – Barbie’s appeal. His words of Barbie romance aren’t salacious, they are poetic. His Barbie enlightenment only worsens my Hugh problem, I have to tell you.

Here’s the interview. As I said I posted the quotes first because when you hear Hugh talk about the virus, he makes it sound far too entertaining:



Photo credit: YouTube and WENN/Avalon

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31 Responses to “Hugh Grant on having coronavirus: ‘I started sniffing in garbage cans’”

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  1. SJ Knows says:

    He’s always had a good sense of humor, at mim his interviews are worth watching for a laugh.

  2. Esmom says:

    Glad he’s recovered okay but I’m surprised he has the antibodies after this long. Still so much to learn about this virus, and so much to fear. A friend now has it for the second time and she had been suffering with terrible residual issues since April.

    I used to crush on him and his bumbling, self-deprecating charm, but not as much as a friend of mine, who was scandalized as all get out by the Divine Brown mess. I remember we were away for the weekend, pre-internets, and she bought the People magazine covering it even though she had one waiting in her mailbox at home, lol.

    He’s aged really well. I wonder if it’s his kids helping to keep him youthful, clean living maybe, or both?

    And Barbie? I get it, too, lol.

    • Lady Baden-Baden says:

      Kids, clean living – maybe. Decent lighting helps, but I’d be really shocked if he hasn’t had cosmetic help. A few years ago he was showing his age… and then his face seemed to ‘refresh’.

      I really like Hugh Grant and I’m not trying to be snarky – everyone in the industry seems to do Botox and he prob felt a little subtle upkeep was necessary for his career. Just wish everyone was more honest about it – might help others be more accepting of themselves. Saw a headline yesterday: ‘How Nicole Kidman looks so youthful after all these years’ (something like that). ZERO mention of Botox! Ridiculous – she can hardly move her face!

      • TeamAwesome says:

        This. He looks better and younger here than he looked a few years ago.

      • Esmom says:

        I hear you, makes sense. Definitely it was subtle work, he still has tons of lines. Sorta Robert Redford-esque, I guess, whose facial work didn’t become obvious for a long time.

      • Lady Baden-Baden says:

        TOTALLY Robert Redford-esque! Or Clooney. Brad Pitt’s subtle work has only recently become more obvious too

  3. Cee says:

    Every time I smell a foul smell I thank God because that means I don’t have the virus.

    Please be safe, everyone. Even if you get the virus and survive, be it mild or not, a lot of people who had it are experiencing some kind of chronic issues like heart problems and breathing problems.

    • Arpeggi says:

      Yeah, biking home on compost days this summer was my weekly smell-test. Not sure what it’ll be this winter (mask breath?)

      A few years ago I totally lost the sense of smell and taste for a week (I was really sad: it was peak lilac bloom and I couldn’t smell them!) and I started to test weird stuff to see how far it was gone. When you can easily eat a spoonful of baking powder, you know it’s bad! I was glad when it came back, eating lentils with every day was sad

    • SusieQ says:

      I had Covid back in August/September (I contracted it at work). My senses of smell and taste are still completely misfiring. Food is not the least bit appetizing when you can’t smell it or taste it. I’ve lost so much weight that I couldn’t afford to lose, as I’m naturally a very petite person. I’m down to 100 lbs and I’m 5’4.

      My mom also contracted it at work (we work in the same hospital), and she now has heart damage. My boyfriend caught it from me before we knew I had been exposed, and he has gaps in his memory. This virus is cruel and no joke.

      • Sarah I says:

        Susie Q, I wanted to say how moved I was to hear of you and your mother’s encounter and continued problems with Covid, that you caught while serving others. I’m so sorry. I will include you in my prayers today. God bless and go with you and your mother. Thank you for your service.

  4. Heat says:

    My name is Heather and I also have a Hugh Grant problem.

    • theothercleo says:

      Hi Heather! My name is Cleo and I also have a Hugh Grant problem.

    • smcollins says:

      I, too, have a Hugh Grant problem. Like a lot of Americans I fell for him after FWaaF. That whole thing with the prostitute didn’t even sway me (it was disappointing but he still managed to be self-debricatingly charming when facing the publicity over it). Love Actually and About a Boy are my go-to HG movies, and he’s been amazing on The Undoing. I see Emmy & GG nominations in his future for that role.

    • Harper says:

      Count me in. Everything he says is hysterical to me. His personal foibles don’t enter into it in my book. Of course, Four Weddings and About a Boy are great movies, but I think he’s also hilarious in Music & Lyrics, where he plays a has-been pop star and sings. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a great pandemic mood-booster.

      • LarkspurLMM says:

        I’m in the HG club too.
        Music & Lyrics is GREAT!!!! Pop goes my heart.
        He is fantastic in The Undoing.
        Have a great day!

      • Anne Call says:

        It’s the great sense of humor, his obvious intelligence and his self deprecation. He’s the perfect English actor!

    • Golly Gee says:

      My name is Golly and I’m a Hughgrantaholic.
      I didn’t think much of him when he was younger and had the romcom image. But now that I’m aware of his killer sense of humor and the fact that he’s a snarky grump, I love him! Grumps get a pass if they have wit, the same way that cream takes the bitterness out of coffee.

  5. FHMom says:

    Hugh oozes charm. It’s who he is. I do wonder, though, if British women find him as attractive as American women .

    • Lady Baden-Baden says:

      I’m generalizing, of course, but judging from me and my friends I would say no! I have a lot of respect for him as an actor and an activist but he’s very dime a dozen over here in terms of looks/manner (especially if you live in a university town/wealthy area)

      • Esmom says:

        Interesting. Here in the U.S. a British accent alone can be extremely swoon worthy to some. Add Hugh’s looks and charm and I can see why people flipped for him.

      • FHMom says:

        And I now regret not studying in Britain when I was at college. Sigh.

  6. Chaine says:

    His self-deprecating sense of humor is what saved his career way back when—hard to think any other celeb will ever top Hugh’s post-arrest interview with Jay Leno.

  7. Bishop says:

    What is the time stamp for the Barbie chat during the video?

  8. AmelieB says:

    I really wish Colbert would have done a longer interview with Grant instead of constantly interrupting Grant. Just allow Hugh to continue talking about Barbie, goggle, and stage fright. We are locked down in a pandemic, let us spend more time with this charismatic actor.

  9. Louisa says:

    I love Hugh Grant. My friend and I were recently discussing him and neither of us could come up with a movie that we didn’t love him in. He is one of those actors I will watch no matter what he’s starring in.
    And I am absolutely hooked on The Undoing!

  10. Katinka says:

    With him, the fucked-up-ness of his relationships don’t seem to quite matter so much- because he knows he’s messy and moody and doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. The ones, that think they’re sane and „normal“ and sensible are way worse sometimes.
    In other words, I also have a Hugh Grant problem.

  11. Skwinkee says:

    Ooooh. Every since I saw Impromtu in 1991-ish I have been on the Hugh Grant charm train.

  12. april says:

    Very funny article you wrote, Hecate! Loved it. Hope Hugh himself finds it and reads it. Anyway, it’s impossible not to like the guy and give him a pass on his shortcomings.

  13. Silvie says:

    I have met Hugh and he was rude to me, and I still find him damn attractive and charming.