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Hugh Laurie Reopens a Window on 'House'
July 30, 2020  | By Alex Strachan  | 4 comments

It was inevitable, perhaps, that the ghost of House would come up, even though Hugh Laurie was on a Television Critics Association (TCA) conference call to promote the political drama Roadkill (top), from British playwright David Hare, one of PBS's Masterpiece new offerings this fall.

They say no man is an island, and no actor can truly walk away from a role that reached into so many homes, touched so many viewers' lives over such a prolonged and sustained period as House did — eight seasons, 177 episodes in all, from 2004-'12.

Laurie was not there to bury Gregory House M.D. but to praise him, if not the man, exactly, then the character that changed Laurie's life on several fundamental levels.

"I think the fun for an actor is to allow the audience an opportunity to decipher things rather than simply present it to them in bold captions — which is, by the way, my instinct.

"I am doing it now. I am talking very too loudly and gesturing far too much, and I will probably lose my British passport for that because it is very un-English."

Yes, yes, but what about Dr. House? How hard is it to walk away from a larger-than-life character that played such an indelible role in people's lives?

"There are some things I can't do anything about. I am the same height as Gregory House, and I am a little bit older. But, you know, not by much.

"You know, with anything I do, there are going to be some moments or expressions or certain inflections that will possibly cause someone to remember something. Every actor goes through that. That's the nature of the thing.

"Personally, I feel very lucky to have played the variety of characters that I've been allowed to play. Some actors who were just cast in a heroic mold will only get to do that one thing. I feel as if I've had the opportunity to play what, to me, is a wonderful range of characters, all of whom I like and enjoy. 
"That could just be the little bubble I'm living in now. Maybe I need to be shaken awake and be told I'm exactly the same in everything I do."

Laurie was asked if, like an aging ballplayer, he ever considered quitting acting after playing the same character day after day, week after week, season after season, once he closed the door for good on House, his batting average having been seared into the record books.

"Do you think I should have done?" he said self-mockingly. "I probably should've done." 
He laughed wryly.

"No. More by luck than design, I was given the opportunity for an extraordinary sabbatical in the form of music. I made a record toward the end of House," — the blues album Let Them Talk — "and almost immediately, I found myself touring around the world. When I say world tours, I don't mean world tours in the sense of you meaning the World Series. I mean really world tours, like Russia and Mexico and Argentina and Poland, and all the rest of it.

"I had this wonderful two-year, three-year escape from the whole idea of acting. I must say it did occur to me I was loving it so much that it was something I would have happily stayed in — and will probably return to — but it wasn't something I planned. It was probably very good for my mental health. Not that my mental health is much to write home about, but it could have been a great deal worse."

Why do people want to act, Laurie was asked. It's such a terrible job!

"Yes," Laurie said, straight-faced. "Well, thanks for that. Let me just make some notes."

But seriously.

"I shouldn't speak for other actors. I have a fascination with behavior, and why people behave the way they do, why they make choices they make. Storytelling is a way of exploring my own and also other people's behavior. This is the stuff of life. I mean, I love trees, and I love dogs, and I love country walks and all the rest of it, but people are hard to beat for just sheer entertainment and interest."

So there.

Roadkill will bow on PBS Masterpiece in November.

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Kittredge D. Seely
House was a fun show to watch. It would have been more interesting if it had been screened better for the medical faux pass that happened on the show. Both House & Numb3rs were more intellectual than their average soap opera on today's TV.
Aug 6, 2020   |  Reply
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