James Hugh Calum Laurie is an English actor, musician, and comedian. Laurie is perhaps best known for portraying the title characters in the U.S. medical drama series House on Fox, for which he won two Golden Globe Awards. He was listed in the 2011 Guinness World Records as the most watched leading man on television and was one of the highest-paid actors in a television drama, earning $409,000 per episode of House. Take a look below for 35 more fun and fascinating facts about Hugh Laurie.
1. Laurie was born on June 11, 1959, in Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshre, the youngest of four children of Patricia and William George Ranald Mundell “Ran” Laurie, who was a physician and winner of an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pairs at the 1948 London Games.
2. He has an older brother, Charles Alexander Lyon Mundell Laurie, and two older sisters, Susan and Janet.
3. He had a strained relationship with his mother.
4. He notes that she was “Presbyterian by character, by mood” and that he was “a frustration to her… she didn’t like me”.
5. She died from motor neurone disease at the age of 73, in 1989, when Laurie was 30. According to Laurie, she endured the disease for two years and suffered “painful, plodding paralysis” while being cared for by Laurie’s father, whom he called “the sweetest man in the whole world”.
6. Laurie’s parents, who were both of Scottish descent, attended St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church of England (now United Reformed Church) in Oxford.
7. Laurie was brought up in Oxford and attended the Dragon School from ages seven to 13 and later stated, “I was, in truth, a horrible child. Not much given to things of a bookey nature, I spent a large part of my youth smoking Number Six and cheating in French vocabulary tests.”
8. He went on to Eton College, which he describes as “the most private of private schools”.
9. He arrived at Selwyn College, Cambridge in autumn 1978 and says he attended “as a result of family tradition” since his father also went there.
10. Laurie notes that his father was a successful rower at Cambridge and that he was “trying to follow in his father’s footsteps”.
11. He read archaeology and anthropology, specializing in social anthropology, graduating with a third-class honors degree.
12. Like his father, Laurie rowed at school and university.
13. In 1977, he was a member of the junior coxed pair that won the British national title before representing Britain’s Youth Team at the 1977 Junior World Rowing Championships.
14. In 1980, Laurie and his rowing partner, J.S. Palmer, were runners-up in the Silver Goblets coxless pairs for Eton Vikings rowing club.
15. Later, Laurie also achieved a Blue while taking part in the 1980 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
16. During this time, Laurie was training for up to eight hours a day and was on course to become an Olympic-standard rower.
17. Laurie is a member of Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world. He was also a member of the Hermes Club and the Hawks’ Club.
18. Laurie married theater administrator Jo Green on 16 June 1989 in Camden, London.
19. They live in Belsize Park, London, with sons Charles (born 1988) and William (born 1991) and daughter Rebecca (born 1993).
20. In July 2008, Laurie bought a mansion in Hollywood, California, as they had planned to move the whole family there because of the strain of being mostly separated for nine months each year while Laurie filmed House, but ultimately decided against it.
21. When he bought the mansion, he said he was in “virtual isolation” from his family.
22. Laurie’s eldest son Charlie played a cameo part in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, in the last sketch of an episode, entitled “Special Squad”, as baby William.
23. His daughter Rebecca had a role in the film Wit as five-year-old Vivian Bearing.
24. Stephen Fry, Laurie’s best friend and long-time comedy partner, was the best man at his wedding and is godfather to his children.
25. On 23 May 2007, Laurie was awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), in the 2007 New Year Honours, for services to drama.
26. While appearing on Inside the Actors Studio in 2006, Laurie discussed his struggle with severe clinical depression.
27. He told host James Lipton that he first concluded he had a problem whilst driving in a charity demolition derby, during which he realized that seeing two cars collide and explode in front of him caused him to be neither excited nor frightened, but bored.
28. He continues to have regular sessions with his psychotherapist.
29. Laurie admires the writings of P. G. Wodehouse, explaining in a 27 May 1999 article in The Daily Telegraph how reading Wodehouse novels had saved his life.
30. In an interview also in The Daily Telegraph, Laurie confirmed his atheism.
31. He is an avid motorcycle enthusiast and has two motorbikes, one at his London home and one at his Hollywood home.
32. His bike in the U.S. is a Triumph Bonneville, his self-proclaimed “feeble attempt to fly the British flag”.
33. In March 2012, Laurie was made an Honorary Fellow of his alma mater Selwyn College, Cambridge.
34. Laurie took piano lessons from the age of six. He sings and plays piano, guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone.
35. He has displayed his musical talents throughout his acting career, such as on A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster, House and when he hosted Saturday Night Live in October 2006.