One of life’s great pleasure is to watch people be really good at things. I was enthralled by Michael Jordan when I was a boy. No one could touch him, and it seemed like magic to me, but I was really passionate about basketball for a long time because of that. (If you want a fun place to start watching people be good at things is www.reddit.com/r/artisanvideos).
Hugh Laurie has intrigued me as an actor from the first. I probably saw him first in Stuart Little, then recognized him in Sense and Sensibility (with the incomparable Emma Thompson). But then I discovered a show that would continue to delight me for the next 10 years: A bit of Fry and Laurie. It’s Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie doing sketch comedy as a duet, a theme that would continue into “Jeeves and Wooster,” an adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse’s novels. If you want to see the most verbose and dry-witted acting, give these a try. It boggles the mind.
This was all happening in the late 80’s and early 90’s, where Laurie was cutting his teeth. Another part of the journey was House, in which he got to indulge his darker side, something which a lot of talented comedians are good at. I didn’t enjoy House as much as some of his other work, mainly because of the format. It became formulaic, and after 8 seasons, a little played out in terms of plot. But he was still magnificent.
The reason for this post is The Night Manager, a mini-series from AMC (I watched on amazon prime). Laurie plays the villain, and I was completely blown away. It’s a British spy thriller, with all the accouterments that go with it: awesomeness, cold lighting, and plenty of B-roll. He’s charming, evil, sensitive, cruel, gentle, trusting and unhinged.
The point of this post, however, is not to celebrate The Night Manager, but to look at how much work and passion he’s put in over the last 4 decades. He has become an elder statesman of the acting world, a well deserved post. It just reminds me how much work goes into becoming a master.
If you can find the thing that will let you devote 40 years of your life, and still have it be rewarding, you’ve found a great thing. Happy hunting.