The GBH Drama Club has thoroughly been enjoying MASTERPIECE's new drama Roadkill, a juicy political thriller in which Hugh Laurie plays a conniving and charismatic British poliltician. But it's not Laurie's first time playing a politican nor his first time playing a dark character. From stealing puppies to solving medical mysteries, Laurie has inhabited a wide range of wacky and mischievous characters. Here are my favorite of Hugh Laurie's roles.
Wooster on Jeeves and Wooster
Laurie is known for his dramatic roles, but he got his start in comedy. He was half of the pair Jeeves and Wooster in the early 1990s on British television. Laurie plays Wooster, an over-the-top wealthy socialite, who gets into trouble with his pal Jeeves, the personal attendant played by comedic partner Stephen Fry. This show is so very British in all the best ways. And Downton Abbey fans will recognize one of the show’s filming locations, Highclere Castle.
Horace in 101 Dalmatians
Remember when Hugh Laurie teamed up with Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams) to steal a bunch of dalmatians? Even though the 1996 101 Dalmatians was a staple of my childhood, I hadn’t realized that it was actually Laurie himself who plays the bumbling bad guy who steals a bunch of baby dalmatians to deliver to Cruella de Vil. In the end, he famously gets sprayed by a skunk that she didn’t realize was a skunk. He may not have won any acting awards for a role in the quintessential children’s movie, but I wonder if the reason I find Laurie creepy sometimes is because I was introduced to him as someone who steals puppies.
Dr. Gregory House on House
Most Americans probably know Laurie for his iconic character Dr. House, which he played for eight seasons on House from 2004 to 2012. Audiences were asked: what would happen if Sherlock Holmes became a doctor? With Laurie in a convincing American accent, Dr. House is arrogant and bitter, yet brilliant at solving unsolvable medical mysteries, all the while battling an addiction to Vicodin. He gets to play off of his own Watson, Dr. James Wilson, played by Robert Sean Leonard, and spar with hospital administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy, played by Lisa Edelstein. Is he a hero or antihero in the Golden Age of Television? Whatever your opinion is, it’s hard to imagine the show without Laurie’s iconic portrayal. He was nominated for six Emmys for the role, and won two Golden Globes.
Tom James on Veep
Veep is, in my opinion, one of the greatest comedies to ever grace our television screens. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is legendary as Selina Meyer, an ambitious yet absurd Vice President who makes her way to the nation’s most powerful position. But what really makes this satirical show stand out is the cast of characters around her: an incompetent and neurotic group of politicians and advisers who run our government. One is Tom James, played by Laurie, again in an American accent, a Senator and Selina’s sometime romantic partner. He also becomes part of a twisted political plot, as Selina picks him to be her own Veep. He can be smug and slimy, but Selina doesn’t hate him — and neither do we, thanks to Laurie’s charisma.
Richard Roper on The Night Manager
Laurie went dark again for this 2016 miniseries based on a John Le Carré novel. He plays a shady businessman involved in the illegal arms trade, whose business is infiltrated by an undercover MI6 agent, played by Tom Hiddleston. It’s an old-fashioned spy drama set in modern times and Laurie’s mysterious charm and icy blue eyes makes him a perfect villain. Laurie won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Emmy for this role.