On this day in 1995, Hugh Grant appears on late-night television’s The Tonight Show less than two weeks after being arrested with a Hollywood prostitute. The show’s host, Jay Leno, famously asked the English actor, “What the hell were you thinking?”
Grant, who shot to stardom with the 1994 hit British film Four Weddings and a Funeral, was arrested on June 27, 1995, in a parked car near Sunset Boulevard with a prostitute named Divine Brown and charged with lewd conduct in a public place. At the time of his arrest, Grant, then age 34, was already scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show to promote Nine Months, his first major Hollywood movie. The actor kept his agreement and went on the program, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time. “What the hell were you thinking?” Leno asked him, to which Grant simply responded “I did a bad thing.” The show garnered huge ratings (enabling Leno to beat his late-night talk show rival David Letterman) and Grant was praised for apologizing for his behavior, in contrast to other scandal-plagued celebrities who went into seclusion or blamed their mistakes on others.
Grant pled no contest to the charges against him, paid a fine and received probation. Although the arrest surprised many fans of the actor, who was known for his charm and wit, his career did not seem to suffer in the end and he went on to star in a number of films, most often romantic comedies, including Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), About a Boy (2002), Love Actually (2003) and Music and Lyrics (2007). Though Grant’s long-term girlfriend, the English model and actress Elizabeth Hurley, stuck by him during the scandal, the couple announced their separation in 2000 after 13 years together.