Catching up with Hugh Laurie
By TERRY MORROW
Meeting Hugh Laurie instantly dismisses notions that he's like the gruff doctor he so convincingly plays on "House" (9 p.m. EST Tuesdays, Fox).
There might be reason to think he and the painfully blunt Dr. Greg House could be one in the same. Laurie has that dry expression on his face. He speaks directly and clearly.
Yet the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face demeanor that House commands never emits from Laurie during an interview. Laurie's even jovial, something House is not.
"Deep down I'm mean," he deadpans. "Well, maybe not even deep down."
The son of an Olympic rower, the Oxford-born Laurie says his career has never been one with a master scheme, though it has had a definite course. He has dozens of British movies and TV shows to his credit, the kind of experience needed for an actor before he comes to Hollywood.
He auditioned for "House."
"I've never had a big plan," the 46-year-old says of his career. "I've never had a big chart on the wall that says: 'Come to America now/ Poland, next year' or anything like that.
"I kind of just go with it and take each day as it comes."
No one was more surprised than Laurie when "House" became an unexpected smash last spring. The show earned industry kudos as well when Laurie was nominated for an Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series.
"I haven't really spent any time kind of time being out in the public, going grocery shopping or anything," he says.
Laurie's family - his wife and three children - still resides in London. While working on "House," he lives in a rental apartment in Hollywood.
During his brief summer break from the show, he spent his time driving his children to school and after-school activities.
"That's what parents do when they aren't at work," he says.
At a Fox party recently, Laurie walked the red carpet and then, before entering a party filled with network peers, he dashed over to a crowd of fans to sign autographs and make small talk.
Laurie says he doesn't watch "House" and can only talk about the show in terms of the scripts he reads.
He defends his character's callous nature, a trait that drives the show's drama and has made Laurie unusually appealing.
"He's not mean," he says. "He just isn't polite. That doesn't make him unkind. It just means he has more important things to worry about.
"He's interested in the truth, not just a medical truth but the emotional truth about people. I don't think that makes him unkind. I think that makes him human."