Think of a dour-faced belligerent TV doctor with a heart of gold, and this actor will surely pop into your mind. Such is the strength of his portrayal that he was once one of the most watched leading characters in the history of television. Never before in the history of the television business had a Briton taken on the role of an American and delivered it to such critical acclaim as he did. He is also perhaps one of those actors who are equally praised by both the critics and the audiences. Since the last decade, Hailing from a privileged family did not mean that the film industry threw open its doors and welcomed him with a flurry of excitement. He made his way up from the bottom all by himself. Starting with a small theatre group, he forged long-lasting working partnerships through his love and dedication in the genre of comedy. These partnerships resulted in a number of successful projects that slowly but surely caught the audience’s fancy and held it. His work in the last decade has enthralled and entertained millions worldwide. Scroll further to learn all the interesting and intriguing facts pertaining to life and career of this multifaceted personality.
Childhood & Early Life
James Hugh Calum Laurie was born to William George Ranald Mundell Laurie, a doctor and Olympic gold medalist and Patricia (née Laidlaw). He has an older brother, Charles Alexander and two older sisters, Susan and Janet.
Brought up in Oxford, he attended the Dragon School. Later, he went on to join Eton and studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Selwyn College, Cambridge.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he was an oarsman at school and university. In 1977, he was one of the member of junior coxed pair that won the British national title before representing Britain's Youth Team at the ‘1977 Junior World Rowing Championships’.
The actor and his rowing partner J.S. Palmer came second in the Silver Goblets and achieved a Blue while taking part in the 1980 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
As he had to discontinue rowing due to an attack of glandular fever (mononucleosis), he joined the Cambridge Footlights, the university dramatic club, where he met Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, and Ben Elton. Their annual revue, ‘The Cellar Tapes’, won the first ‘Perrier Comedy Award’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Perrier Award catapulted the team to the West End and a television version of The Cellar Tapes was broadcasted in May 1982.
‘Letters from a Bomber Pilot’ and ‘Plenty’, both released in 1985, saw Laurie take on a serious role. He also co-wrote ‘A Bit of Fry & Laurie’ and ‘The Laughing Prisoner’, during this time.
During the late 80s and early 90s he appeared in music videos—Kate Bush’s ‘Experiment IV’, Annie Lennox’s ‘Walking on Broken Glass’ etc. and a few commercials.
In 1995, he appeared in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ which made $134 million at the box office.
In 1996, he played Jasper in 101 Dalmatians. This P.G. Wodehouse fan published his best-seller debut novel, ‘The Gun Seller’.
In 1998, he had a brief guest-starring role on ‘Friends’ in the episode ‘The One with Ross's Wedding’.
He co-wrote and performed the humorous blues song, ‘Sperm Test in the Morning’, in the film ‘Maybe Baby’ and also directed a few scenes in the movie. The following year, he voiced a character in ‘Family Guy’.
In 2002, he guest-starred in two episodes of the commercially successful BBC spy thriller ‘Spooks’.
In 2003, he starred in and directed ‘Fortysomething’, a comedy drama series.
In 2004, he guest starred as a professor on ‘The Lenny Henry Show’. That year, during the remake of ‘The Flight of the Phoenix’, he auditioned for and secured the role of the grumpy genius, ‘Dr. House’.
In July 2006, he appeared on ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ where he talked about his clinical depression. The say year, he also hosted NBC's ‘Saturday Night Live’.
In August 2007, he appeared on BBC Four's documentary ‘Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out’.
Hugh Laurie took part in Blackadder Rides Again in 2008 and appeared as Captain James Biggs in Street Kings, opposite Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker.
In 2009, he voiced the eccentric Dr. Cockroach, PhD in DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens and returned to guest star in another Family Guy episode. He also started to be credited as producer in House M.D.
In 2011, his debut blues album Let Them Talk, featuring collaborations from Tom Jones, Irma Thomas and Dr. John was certified Platinum in France and Gold in Germany and the UK; he also closed the Cheltenham Jazz Festival to great acclaim.
In 2012, negotiated to play the villain in RoboCop, a remake of the original RoboCop film. The same year, he starred in The Oranges, an independent feature.
In 2013, his second album, Didn't It Rain, was released in the UK and was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry.
Starting 2004, he delivered a multiple-award-winning performance as Dr. Gregory House; he was listed in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records as the highest paid actor ever in a television drama, earning approximately $409,000 per episode and for being the most watched leading man on television.
Fry and Laurie were a force to reckon with in the 80s and 90s comedy circuit, working on the Blackadder series; A Bit of Fry & Laurie; Jeeves and Wooster; Hysteria! 1, 2 & 3; The Secret Policeman's Third Ball; Comic Relief TV shows; and Fry and Laurie Host a Christmas Night with the Stars.
Awards & Achievements
For his portrayal of the acerbic Dr. House, the actor won two Golden Globe awards, two Screen Actors Guild awards, and six Emmy nominations, in addition to a Television Critics Association award, and a Teen Choice award.
This veteran actor was made an OBE in the 2007 New Year Honors List, for his services to drama.
In 2011, he was named the GQ Music Man of the Year.
In March 2012, he was made an honorary fellow of his alma mater Selwyn College.
Personal Life & Legacy
This actor married theatre administrator Jo Green in June 1989; the have three children: sons Charlie and Bill and daughter Rebecca. His long-time comedy partner Stephen Frywas best man at his wedding and is godfather to his children.
A motorbike enthusiast, he owns a Triumph Bonneville among others.
This actor is also an accomplished musician who can play the piano, guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone. He is a vocalist and keyboard player for the Los Angeles charity rock group Band From TV.
On viewing his audition tape for the lead role in House, executive producer Bryan Singer pointed him out as just the kind of compelling American accent he had been looking for, not knowing that the actor was British.
He is the subject of the 2011 ITV series Perspectives and PBS’s Great Performances, where he explains his love for the music of New Orleans.