'I did a bad thing and there you have it'

The shaming of Hugh Grant: Actor returns to the limelight with a winning performance on US chat show
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Los Angeles

Hugh Grant delivered a dignified and winning performance on a US chat show a few hours before his court admission of lewd conduct last night.

Wearing a dark blue suit and orange tie, Grant played his bashful, self- deprecating persona and won back the hearts of America's movie fans.

Asked immediately by Jay Leno, on his NBC talk show, what the hell he had been thinking, Grant replied: "I think you know in life what's a good thing to do and what's a bad thing. I did a bad thing, and there you have it."

His appearance was to plug his new film, Nine Months, which opens across the US this week. Despite obvious embarrassment, he was not above gently making fun of his predicament. Asked why he had agreed to do a round of talk shows, he said: "I've never been one to blow my own trumpet, as they say ... this is a funny film."

In his lengthy interview he repeated his remorse for the hurt and embarrassment he had caused his family and colleagues. "I can understand everyone having a joke and see that if I hadn't been the person who perpetrated this whole thing, I would be enjoying it as much as anyone else," he said. "But it's pretty miserable on the other side of the equation."

On his relationship with Liz Hurley, he countered rumours that he had been ditched and said that she had been very supportive. "She's been amazing about it. We will try and work it out. Time is of the essence."

He was less enthusiastic about his treatment at the hands of the media in Britain. "It's hard to keep your temper sometimes," he said. But support from the public had helped him cope, and, he said, "in a curious way, I think I need to suffer for this".

In a contradiction of the standard excuse of disgraced personalities, Grant rejected psycho-analytical explanations for his tryst. "I keep reading psychological theories and stuff like that - I was under pressure, I was tired, I was lonely, I fell down the stairs when I was a child. But I think that would be bollocks, really, to hide behind that," he said

One woman who came to the Burbank studios of the Tonight show was bearing a sign that read, "I would have paid you Hugh." Her rationale? "I thought about it a couple of days ago. It's just to say, 'We still like you Hugh', and he made a mistake, but mistakes can be forgiven." Another argued in true American fashion, "Everybody knows who he is now. I mean, it's really going to do a lot for him."

Grant's friend and Nine Months co-star, Tom Arnold, explained on the Today show that the actor "was embarrassed. He knows he made a huge mistake" but as long as Arnold has known him "nothing like this has ever come up. It was a human mistake and he's taken responsibility for it. I think his honesty will serve him well."

Trailers for his new film have been receiving hoots of laughter for a scene, now cut, in which he is arrested and photographed with a booking board similar to the pictures released by the Los Angeles police after his arrest.

Not all commentators are being so kind. If not for Elizabeth Hurley, Hugh Grant would be another "faceless schlub," writes Ron Rosenbaum in the new issue of American Esquire.

Grant is now due to appear on CNN's Larry King Live, the Kathy and Regis Show and various other talk shows. The premiere of Nine Months is now Hollywood's hot-ticket event.