Four weddings and a sequel

Hugh Grant to play himself again in a film called Notting Hill

Hugh Grant is poised to star in a follow-up to Four Weddings and a Funeral, the most successful British film ever. The screenplay for the film has been written by the Four Weddings creator, Richard Curtis, who is also the writer behind TV comedies Blackadder and Mr Bean, and one of the key figures behind the charity Comic Relief.

His script, which is nearly ready for shooting, is called Notting Hill after the trendy west London area where Curtis and his girlfriend, TV presenter Emma Freud, live in a converted chapel.

Though many people assumed that the Hugh Grant character in Four Weddings and a Funeral was a reflection of Grant himself, friends of Richard Curtis realised immediately that many of the personality traits actually belonged to the writer.

It is understood that the new script revolves around a shy young bookseller who meets and falls in love with the most famous actress in the world, and surprises his circle of friends by bringing her along to parties and social gatherings.

Contracts have not yet been signed with Grant, but the deal is understood to be imminent. A Polygram executive said: "The new movie will not have the same character that ended up with Andie McDowell at the end of the last film. But if Hugh Grant plays the character in the new film as we confidently hope he will, and with the Richard Curtis script, it will be very much the sequel to Four Weddings and a Funeral."

Grant and his girlfriend Liz Hurley were here in Cannes earlier this week. Senior sources at Polygram Films, which owns Working Title, the British production company with made Four Weddings and will make the sequel - confirmed here yesterday that Grant has been asked to play the lead.

The bookseller - while again bearing similar character traits to Curtis - will not be the effete bachelor with the tangled love life of Four Weddings and a Funeral. And while Polygram and Working Title are desperately keen to sign Grant, they will not be approaching the other stars of Four Weddings - Andie McDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas or John Hannah. One Polygram source, who has read Curtis' script, described it as "hilarious."

Four Weddings and a Funeral was made for $5m, and Grant received a relatively small fee while McDowell negotiated a share of the profits. The film went on to take $250m at the box office worldwide.

It is hoped to start shooting on the film towards the end of the year with a release date next year. With Grant likely to be in the lead role and Curtis writing the script, the film will be seen as the Four Weddings sequel and will command worldwide attention.

The approach to Grant has been kept secret by Polygram and Working Title, who would make no official comment. It was not announced at a lavish publicity luncheon Polygram held in Cannes during the week.

Instead they announced a slate of new films including Dean, a feature film version of TV's Mr Bean starring Rowan Atkinson, and a new film about Elizabeth I.

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