Somebody got front row seats to see the Jonathan Ross show and this what was cut out. I did ask them if I could post this and they said it was ok. Injoy
What follows is, as best I can give, a transcript of the 30 minute interview. Around half of which should be shown tonight. I will include any extra comments along the way…
JR: Is there a fake American doctor in the house?
Queue 4 Poofs and a Piano – JR’s resident band– singing, “Welcome to the House of Fun” which makes a change from the other usual Madness song, “Our House”.
Out walks Hugh – dark shirt, jacket and trousers with full King George VI/Osama Bin Laurie beard.
JR: Bearded and hunky for your viewing pleasure. Congratulations on the huge success of House. It’s a massive hit isn’t it.
HL: I don’t know about massive, enormous perhaps, immense but it’s done awfully well and I’m very proud.
JR: It’s not got the same sort of audience as US or same impact yet but it was shown on Channel Five…
HL: And now it’s moved to Sky…..er…
HL: One, hurray.
JR: Well I’m a late comer to it, I didn’t see the earlier ones
HL: Why then, why would that be?
JR: I don’t know, I didn’t know if I’d care for it and I didn’t want to see you make a
big tit of yourself if you were rubbish in it.
HL: I was very similar, in fact more so…
JR: Were you concerned, really?
HL: Of course, except that if it doesn’t work, it never get that far, that’s really the
one advantage. If you do a pilot and nobody likes it you never get to see it so…
JR: Is it the 5th series now that you’re on?
HL: About to start the 6th, this is 5th that’s on here
JR: That we’re watching here now. That’s a while now, I guess 5 or 6 years since you
took on the role. Did it come to you easily, was there a lengthy audition process? Had they seen your work in England and wanted you to do it?
HL: They had no idea who I was. I got a video tape of myself and sent it in and forgot
about it and when they said that medical show, it might be on, I had no idea what they were talking about. But I’d read a few pages of it and could just tell in 4 or 5 pages, this is good stuff.
JR: He’s such an unusual character and that’s why I was surprised that the character,
and the way you play him has become a kind of heartthrob, he’s not really an immediately likeable person, is he?
HL: No, er, he’s got some rough edges, I think it’s fair to say, he is unusual but then I
think that’s true of television, everyone’s trying to come up with an unusual character, a striking one but I think there was something er, that I found actually very likable for all his rough edges, I found him very likable, he’s sort of a tortured genius and it appealed to me.
JR: When people meet in the states, I’m not sure they immediately recognise you as
the House character.
HL: No, well, they don’t meet me, I see to that (laughing), but er, that’s what I do.
JR: Do they want you to be rude, do they want a bit of House’s tough love?
HL: They think they do but when I try, it turns out that they don’t!
HL: No, actually, if anything I find myself going quite a long way in the other direction – being overly nice and I give lollipops to children just to show them that ha!, I’m only a actor… that doesn’t work either.
JR: There’s always an unusual medical problem at the heart of the show.
HL: That’s pretty much it..
JR: Well there’s more to it than that and it’s pretty unusual and I like to guess along with it at home, to see if I can diagnose these patients correctly…
HL: That’s phenomenal…
JR: Would you like to know how many time’s I’ve got it right?
HL: Yes, I would!
JR: Not once! I don’t think anyone could possibly guess it, could they?
HL: It’s pretty obscure stuff, in fact we have had on several occasions stories where they writer has actually got hold of some obscure medical thing and has called up very brilliant doctors, with very big heads and said, “is this possible, could this happen?” and he’s talking to a doctor who actually says “I’m gonna have to look that up, I’ve never even heard of that, I’ll call you back”. They are that weird some of these things.
JR: That’s what makes it so much fun and I was curious to whether you have actually learned much, whether you could, if someone came to you with a certain set of ailments you could look at them and diagnose them correctly.
HL: (nonchalantly) I’d give it a go. Give me a Swiss army knife, I’ll give it a go.
JR: I’ve got a couple taken from early episodes and if I told you what the symptoms were, bearing in mind that …
HL: Well if it happened more than a day ago…
JR: No you’ve already solved these, it should be quite easy for you. Here we go…someone passes out, talks gibberish, collapses and has convulsions, breathing stops, has an emergency tracheotomy, steroids help but cause lack of vision, more seizures follow and the patient had ham in the fridge
HL: Er, erm, it’s not flu is it? I can’t, erm, I’m not going to be able to, erm, no.
JR: How could you have forgotten a tape worm in the brain, Doctor House. I tried the easiest one I could find!
HL: You’d think that would stick..
JR: OK, patient hasn’t slept in 10 days, sleeping pills didn’t help, had a poison ivy rash, kept awake and after being kept awake, started bleeding rectally, then from the nose, poison ivy treatment suppresses allergy to a new dog, bruises, nodes under the right arm…
HL: Did you say a dog? You meant to say that, it wasn’t …
JR: Yes, poison ivy treatment suppresses allergy to a new dog…
HL: Well, that’s not flu either
JR: Well it’s closer to flu..
HL: Is it?
JR: Well a little bit
HL: How is it closer to flu
JR: (shouts) Black Plague!
JR: Well in real life do you feel closer to…
HL: Well no you see having a brain the size of a walnut, I can only remember things for about 20 minutes, when I’m doing the scene, I understand the stuff for about 20 minutes but beyond that it’s gone. I can’t retain anything…
JR: Which is probably useful, I would have thought because unless you’re actually going to study…
HL: In life, it actually is rather useful
JR: And in acting I would have thought as well…
HL: Acting, less so if you’re on stage, for example, if you’ve got to relearn Othello every night but…
JR: You could just make bits up…
HL: Yes, who’s gonna know!. You’ve got to clear the old stuff off the shelf before you move on.
JR: Do you miss acting on stage, live work like that because I guess this contract ties you up for most of the year, I know you get a bit of film work in but…
HL: Well I don’t miss plays, I’ve only done one play.
JR: Which one was that?
HL: I did a play called Gasping by Ben Elton. It was at the Haymarket Theatre. I did it for about 5 months and I thought I was going to go out of my mind. Actually no, wait a minute, I did go out of my mind. Doing the same things 8 times a week, saying the same words, standing on the same spot, I wanted to put a gun in my mouth.
JR: It’s not something that you feel is missing in your life right now…
HL: I couldn’t do it again. I actually started to have out of body experiences. It was really very frightening.
JR: While on stage?
HL: Yah, I would sort of leave my body and float around the Upper Circle, sit next to people, eat their crisps, I mean, really strange.
JR: Did you ever go out down the road?
HL: Down the road? Is that a euphemism?
JR: Genuinely, you did feel like you were looking in on yourself?
HL: Yes, it was actually very frightening. I didn’t want people to think I was losing my marbles.
JR: And did you seek help or did you work through it?
HL: I just, er, seek help? Er, you see, it never even occurred to me that I could seek help! (laughing) What’s the matter with me? Ha, it’s too late now of course! Is should have sought help, shouldn’t I. No, I just thought, this is what stage actors do, this is what you have to go through…
JR: That’s not normal.
HL: No, it’s not normal but it can’t be normal. There was a bloke who was in Cats, beginning to end 16 years, doing the same part, as a CAT! I mean Othello’s one thing, but as a cat! Putting on whiskers every night! (mimes putting on whiskers) like that.
JR: I bet he lives with an old lady now, lots of newspapers stacked up everywhere!
Hey now look, let’s have a look at the new series, this is series 5 and I think it’s already started on Sky One. There’s already some great plot lines, and there’s already some great stories, as well, involving, I get the feeling that maybe there may be a bit more of his human side, we’re gonna see more emotions coming to the surface.
HL: It’s possible, it’s possible. The character’s originally based on Sherlock Holmes. He is supposedly, one half of his brain highly developed and the other half much, much less so.
JR: In the way that some people aren’t connected to their emotions…
HL: Yes, who are you thinking of? I’m thinking of a couple of people !...erm…never mind! But yes, as it unfolds we do get to glimpse what emotional workings he has.
JR: This is going to seem like a silly question but, he has a limp…
HL: He does have a limp, so far so good…
JR: And which leg is the limp on?
HL: On his right leg.
JR: Do you ever forget which leg is meant to be limpy leg?
JR: It was a silly question.
HL: Well it didn’t exactly fly did it… I wasn’t able to come out with my famous right leg anecdote! Where I do the voices and everything. No, I don’t forget that partly because in my head I make it hurt. It does hurt.
JR: You actually make it hurt?
HL: Yes I do, it does hurt?
JR: You don’t put something in your shoe to make it, er…physically make it hurt?
HL: No, because that would be just a cheap trick. No I actually just, it actually just sort of, I er, er, to me it hurts when I’m doing it.
JR: What kind of pain?
HL: Throbbing, er, er, it throbs.
JR: Did you seek help for that?
HL: Err, no I didn’t
JR: Well I think we’ve established that, you’re stoic!
JR: Let’s have a look at a clip. If you haven’t seen Hugh Laurie in House, where have you been it’s one of the biggest hits on American television and it deserves to be an even bigger hit here than it already is. This is him in his doctors mode…
There is a screen behind and Hugh braces himself to ignore it but when he hears the first words he turns round to look at the screen. It’s not House at all, it’s sketch with Hugh playing a doctor to Stephen Fry’s patient in ABOFL! (Genital Amputation if you want to know!)
JR: How long ago was that?
HL: That was 400 years ago!
JR: Here he is in House..
Clip of House revealing to POTW in S5E01 that she has leprosy – the pretty kind – includes one of my recent favourite Houseisms – don’t tell the girls, they’ll all want to lick your face – unless you’re THAT kind of feminist.
As soon as this starts to play, Hugh hunches down and puts his fingers in his ears.
JR: Hugh Laurie, in the award-winning, hugely successful, as House.
What’s going on with the beard, Hugh. You don’t have the full beard as House, you have the kind of lived-in look.
HL: The lived in look, yeah.
JR: But here you appear to have what appears to be what’s going on to become like a kind of amish person…
HL: Yeah, er, it’s something I wanted to try…I grew it because it was there, er. it’s a mask of manliness.
I should explain here that Jonathan Ross’s show has a kind of fake “green room” where all the guests are sitting waiting to come on or go off and sometimes the screen behind shows them watching the show on a monitor in there. I rather enjoyed this when the other guests were on and I could watch Hugh’s reaction. Eric Cantona is an extremely famous French ex-footballer (soccer to you) who is, in that uniquely Gallic way, also something of a philosopher. He is on to promote a movie that he has just made with the world famous director, Ken Loach. Cantona famously sports a beard.
JR: (pointing to screen showing green room) There we have the beard wearer extraordinaire.
HL: I know, when I realised that Le Beard was going to be here, I felt a little bit nervous. We gonna have a beard-off…I don’t even know how that would go…
JR: It would be terrible when we sit together for a photograph later on and you two got stuck together like Velcro…
HL: Well that’s always bad! Beard or no beard.
JL: Am I right in thinking that your father was actually a doctor?
HL: He was
JR: Does that help you paying House or is it so far removed that it isn’t even a factor?
HL: It helps in that I have a huge amount of respect for the profession of medicine, reverence almost, for people who study, who work hard, empiricists who examine things, who come up with theories as to why the world is, why the human body is the way it is, and who don’t latch on to easy things but actually work hard to find out the truth. I have a great deal of respect and that probably did help, I mean I came to it with a feeling, er, it’s a pro-science show, a pro-reason show and I came to it with that.
JR: Timely comments for this week.
HL: I don’t know what that means. Is there an anti-reason show?
JR: Stephen has just signed a big petition, speaking out against certain..
HL: Fry, yes, yes…no I didn’t hear about this
JR: You didn’t hear about this?
This is in reference to a petition that Stephen Fry and others have signed
against British Assoc of Chiropractors trying to sue an eminent scientist who has spoken out questioning the validity of their practice.
It’s all over twitter!
HL: Is it?
JR: You not a twitter person?
HL: I’m not a twitter person Jonathan, no. I’m more of a shh person! I’ve subscribed to this Shh network where you write something down but you actually send it anywhere. Because I’m all for silence, I’m all for silence.
JR: Your dad, did he practice in the house or did he go off to work?
HL: No, he went off to a clinic. This was in the days before answer phones so the phone at home was a big thing and I was often left in charge of taking messages.
JR: And did you help out in the practice.
HL: Well I couldn’t help it but inadvertently because my voice sounded a lot like my fathers so as soon as I answered the phone they thought I was my him, the doctor and before I could say, no actually, I’m only 15, leave me alone, they would start describing symptoms of pus running down their leg and you reach the point pretty quickly where you can’t tell them that you’re not the doctor. You have to offer help as best as you can!
JR: So it’s an amateur diagnosis.
HL: Well when is go outside and walk it off bad advice.
JR: You’ve finally committed to living in America for this series.
HL: Yes, well, I’m there 9 or 10 months of the year, so yes I did eventually buy a hose in America with the family coming back and forth all the time.
JR: They gonna move and stay out there with you or they gonna continue to caravan it.
HL: Well no, probably not. They’re in school here and university here and they have friendships and relationships and they play in bands….
JR: It must be quite tough on you I would have thought.
HL: It is, it is. It’s weird, it’s a bit like an oil rig. It’s not a bit like an oil rig so why would I say that, I’ve got no idea what an oil rig is like..
JR: Although there would be lots of other men with beards on an oil rig…you could tell your family that’s actually what you’re doing
HL: Yes, yes, but er, why would I do that again?
JR: Err…..but you must like it out there, I mean if you’re gonna be there, and be a success and to be there and to be pretty much at the top of the tree must be a great feeling.
HL: Well, I mean, by and large, be anywhere and be a success is the preferable route to take. But there it’s all pretty much dedicated to one industry there so if you’re going to be there you may as well be in it and immerse yourself as much as you can.
JR: I don’t know if it’s in your contract but presumably you have to keep in pretty good shape, I mean, it all rests on you to a large extent.
HL: I have to be whip cord taught at all times.
JR: What regiment do you follow?
HL: I box
JR: What box against other people?
HL: Yes, small children, ideally, of about 8, no more than that. Well actually no, I’m not aloud to spar, I started sparring a bit and I turned up to work one Monday morning with a black eye and a fat lip and it didn’t go down very well. I’m sure there’s some small print, or probably even pretty big print actually…
JR: What a bout biking then because I know you love motorcycling. I know you were not addicted but it was a big pleasure for you. Are you aloud to ride your bike?
HL: Well, I just didn’t ask the question. So I did it and I’ve been doing it for 5 years now and when they realised that the show is going quite well and they would rather I didn’t fall off and break a leg, by then it’s too late.
JR: When did you get addicted to bike riding?
HL: Since I was sort of 12. I rebuilt a moped and used to ride a moped around a field. I’ve always loved them. It’s like flying, only more so. I’ve flown too and actually I find, well obviously we’ve all flown – come on, that was a stupid thing to say. What I meant to say is, I’ve actually held the controls of an aeroplane and actually I found that a tiny disappointing.
JR: Maybe because you’re not quite aware of the speed…
HL: Maybe that’s what it is. Because you’re so up there, you’re movement is in relation to nothing. But on a bike you just feel that tarmac and you feel the air…
JR: You’ll never feel so much as if you’re driving drunk on a vespa at 70 mph on a road late at night, believe me.
HL: Shame on you, young man.
JR: And I was wearing a turban at the time.
Do you miss doing comedy, Hugh? Cos that’s what I always think of you doing first.
HL: Well no actually, because I do feel as if I am doing it. I find the show very funny, I think House is very funny and I feel as if I’m getting the best of all possible worlds. The triumph of it, if there is a triumph and I happen to think that there is. Is that the show can go from being almost slapstick comedy to a Wildean wit to this gut wrenching drama all in the space of a second. It’s incredibly quick in the turn that it makes in a 45 minute show. I’m incredibly lucky, I get to do all of these things in a single show.
JR: Do you miss doing the older stuff, the broader stuff.
HL: Putting on funny wigs..
JR: And voices
HL: Funny voices, well I’m sort of doing a funny voiceo.
JR: Well, the accent’s very good and is one other things that sells it to people.
HL: Oh well you’re very kind.
JR: Well doing a Scottish accent like that for a whole show is pretty tough. Because you’re not Scottish are you?
HL: (really enjoying this joke) Well no, I’m not. That was good, I liked that!
All joking aside, not many people can do the accent and do it well. It must be a constant challenge.
HL: It is actually. Most things that you do a lot of, if you play the violin a lot, or make scrambled eggs a lot, it gets easier but this is one thing that is not. I don’t know why that is..
JR: What are the things that are hardest is it er,
HL: You never know, sometimes it can be some 55 syllable latin phrase describing some medical condition that’s gonna trip you up, sometimes it can be the word but or the word OW and you just don’t know.
JR; And do you ever get retakes
HL: I do, a lot, but I feel there’s a limit to how many I can take before people start rolling their eyes and saying “Why don’t we just get an American”…which I would understand, I wouldn’t blame them.
JR What about things like laughing or sneezing, do you have to do those with an American accent.
HL: I think you do. Things like laughing, fortunately, I don’t laugh either in real life or … but I think you’re right there is a difference. Sneezing, I don’t know.
JR: You could go. Achoo, achow.
HL: Yeah but also, Ow, I think American’s say Ow in French, the French don’t say Ow at all, they say Aie.
HL: Aie, now it’s such a weird thing because you’d think that is an instinctive thing, no time for mental process, but if you stub your cigarette out on a Frenchman, try it! You’ll get a completely difference response!
JR: Let me ask you, do you miss Stephen Fry, because your partnership, it was more than just a convenient on screen partnership, this was a deep and true friendship.
HL: It is a deep and true deep friendship and we’re very very close and continue to be so. No, I see him all the time, I saw him yesterday and I’ll see him tomorrow and we email. We don’t t-wit each other. We do everything else, you know, letters…
JR: Do you actually write letters?
HL: No, actually, I can’t say that, it’s simply untrue! But also, it’s a fantastic thing because he’s actually playing a role in a show called Bones which films 50 yards away from where we make House. So when he’s over there he stays in my house and we go to work together and eat cheese sandwiches together, er, no we don’t do that either, it’s all lobster over there!. No, it’s lovely and we sit there in the gorgeous California sunshine and reflect on our amazing good fortune and don’t think that we take it for granted for one second we don’t. It is an amazing thing and we’re both, I think, very appreciative.
JR: Weird for him to appear in House? Would that be strange for a British audience or would it be strange…
HL: He did threaten that he would sort of wangle his way in. You know, come on with a man with two limps. We had this idea actually because the character’s based on Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes, which is such a brilliant idea that the cleverest man in the world had a cleverer older brother, Mycroft, so we thought there could actually be an equivalent of Mycroft. That when House gets absolutely flummoxed by a three-pipe problem he would have to go to his older brother to get the solution. It could happen one day!
JR: Can I just mention the fact that we should convey our congratulations and Happy Birthday to a heavily-bearded Hugh Laurie, because he is approaching a landmark birthday, next Thursday, I believe.
HL: Yes, it is, next Thursday, I will be (sharp intake of breath, screws eyes up) 50 years old
Cheers and whoops from the audience.
JR: Still fit as a butcher’s dog!
HL: It was nothing!
JR: I wanted to get you a special present, so I looked into it and I asked around to find out what you would really love. I know you play the piano…
JR: And I’ve been informed that you’ve always had your heart set on a Steinway Grand Piano.
HL: (Laughing) Yes.
JR: I know, it’s extravagant and I know it’s crazy but for you Hugh…
3 burly guys begin to wheel in a HUGE cloth covered, piano-shaped package. Oh my, could it be, could it really be….no, the cloth is removed to reveal some lighting boxes arranged in the shape of a piano within which there is a miniature, plinkety-plonkety baby grand,.
JR: We have a baby version of the Steinway Grand Piano, there you go! And a little chair to go with it.
HL: (plays a bit of boogie-woogie. It’s a great sound but out of tune)
That’s beautiful. (folds palms towards JR) I’m very, very grateful. That’s fantastic.
Audience laughs and claps, whoops and hollers. Hugh looks very pleased
JR: No one goes home empty handed!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mister Hugh Laurie.
HL: Thank you so much, I don’t know what to say. Thank you, thank you very much.
Off goes our Hugh to the “Green Room”
After he goes off, there are various points in which he is seen in the Green Room. The most significant of which is during the interview with Dustin Hoffman:
DH: Can I just pay a compliment to Hugh Laurie. I have to tell you, we all talk about it. His American accent is the best I have ever heard.
Hugh looks embarrassed but gracious, as ever.
Well ladies and gentlemen. I hope this is as full a version as I can offer you. I hope it gave a little of the flavour of being there.
Have just watched the broadcast and I’ll be interested to hear comments. It was only around 10 mins long. Short changed but at least you get the full version here.