05/09/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
The fates were not kind to Hugh Grant. They were extravagant. They gave him charm, talent, a loving, middle-class upbringing and an Oxford education. But mostly they gave him looks. The engaging 33-year-old Londoner and star of the surprise hit romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral
is a visual smorgasbord, from his dandy's thatch of hair and those not-quite-perfect English teeth to his choirboy complexion and dry wit. A fresh-eyed hybrid of Cary Grant and David Niven, women—and critics—from Tallahassee to Tokyo hail him for reinventing the intelligent comic leading man. "He has a naughty English schoolboy look," says model Elle Macpherson, who costarred with him in Sirens. "He's got an awkward way that makes him charming."
Maybe so, but with three films in the U.S. (he's an uptight vicar in Sirens, a starchy Brit in Polanski's Bitter Moon
and a bounding bachelor in Weddings
), Grant remains true to his self-deprecating nature. On doing a nude scene: "I looked like a trussed chicken." On classical music: "It can make me suicidal in five seconds." On Hollywood: "I did do a lot of arugula and mahimahi lunches there." What won't he do? Madonna
, who badgered him—unsuccessfully—for a date. Grant, the son of a sales-man-turned-artist father and teacher mother, prefers the company of Elizabeth Hurley, 29 (Passenger 57
), his English actress-girlfriend of seven years, who lives in L.A. and with whom he talks daily. Despite hints from his mother, marriage is not a definite—"I feel very up and down about it." What is definite is his ability to charm millions of moviegoers with a single bashful smile. Said Weddings director Mike Newell:' I haven't found an American woman yet who hasn't flipped for him."