Elizabeth Jane Hurley
(born 10 June 1965) is an English model
and former actress
who became known as a girlfriend of Hugh Grant
in the 1990s. Born in Basingstoke
, Hurley was a struggling actress in 1987, when she met Grant while working on a Spanish
production called Remando Al Viento
. In 1994, Grant became the focus of worldwide media attention due to the global box office success of his film Four Weddings and a Funeral
. Hurley accompanied him to the film's London premiere and was noted for wearing a plunging black Versace
dress held together with gold safety pins
. According to The Guardian
, Hurley was "then known as 'Hugh Grant's girlfriend,' now known as 'Hugh Grant's former girlfriend,'" due to their high-profile romantic relationship that ended in 2000.
The highlight of Hurley's professional life has been her association with the cosmetics company Estée Lauder. It gave Hurley her first modeling job at the age of 29 and has used her as a model for its products, especially perfumes such as Sensuous and Pleasures, since 1995. Her best known cinematic work was as Vanessa Kensington in Mike Myers's hit spy comedies, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). After an unsuccessful stint as a reality television presenter on Project Catwalk in 2006, Hurley currently models and designs an eponymous beachwear line. She became the mother of a son in 2002.
Hurley was born as a middle child in Basingstoke
, the daughter of Angela and Roy Hurley. Her Irish father was a major
in the British Army
, while her Anglican mother was a teacher
at Kempshott Infant School. She has an older sister Katie and a younger brother Michael. Hurley was educated at the Kempshott Infant School, Kempshott Junior School, and the Harriet Costello School. Aspiring to be a dancer as a young girl, she took ballet
classes and later briefly studied dance and theater at the London Studio Centre. While in her teens, she became involved with punk fashion
, dying her hair pink and piercing her nose. "When I was 16 - this was about 1981,82 - the thing to be in Basingstoke, the suburb I grew up in, was punk," she explained. She also reportedly associated with the New Age Travellers
in her youth.
Hurley started working as an actress in the late 1980s and became a model in 1995. During the 2000s, she gained experience as a reality television presenter in Britain. The All Movie Guide described her as "one of the world's most famous arm ornaments, model, and sometimes-actress," with the first being a reference to her red-carpet appearances accompanying Hugh Grant to his film premieres and other social functions while they were a couple until 2000. She has appeared thrice on the cover of British Vogue
In 1995, with no prior modeling experience, Hurley was introduced as an Estée Lauder
spokesmodel. She later recounted, "I was far from an ingénue, having had my first modeling job at 29." Hurley has since featured in ads for Lauder's 'Pleasures
', 'Beautiful', 'Dazzling', 'Tuscany per Donna', and 'Sensuous' fragrances. She was replaced as the company's face by Caroline Murphy
in 2001, but her contract to work in a lesser capacity was renewed for the 14th year in 2008.
In 2005, she modeled for Saloni, Liverpool Department Stores of Mexico, and Lancel. She was part of the seasonal advertising campaigns for Jordache
, Got Milk?
, Patrick Cox
, MQ Clothiers of Sweden, and Lancel in 2006 and Monsoon
In April 2005, Elizabeth Hurley Beach, her beachwear line that she also models every summer, was launched at Harrod's in the UK. It debuted later that year in select Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the United States and other European countries. She told Tatler magazine, "I was on Necker Island for a fashion shoot and even as [Richard Branson] was lying back in a hammock, he was on the phone, doing deals, managing his empire. But then I thought I am never going to have even a holiday home, let alone an island, unless I start a business that I can do without disrupting Damian's school days." In May 2008, Hurley designed and modeled a capsule collection of 12 swimsuits for the Spanish clothes brand MANGO.
Hurley made her first film appearance in Aria
(1987). She has since appeared in movies such as Passenger 57
, and Serving Sara
. In 1997, she received her first and only acting award, the ShoWest Supporting Actress of the Year, for her performance in the spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
. When Hugh Grant founded and became the director of Simian Films in 1994, Hurley was credited as one of the producers for the company's two Grant vehicles, Extreme Measures
(1996) and Mickey Blue Eyes
(1999). Critics such as Julie Burchill, who has called Hurley's acting "a notch above pornography," have dismissed her performances. In 2000, she was publicly criticised for breaking a five-month acting strike
to film an Estée Lauder advertisement, for which she was fined $100,000 (£70,000 in 2000) by the Screen Actors Guild
and labeled "Elizabeth Scably" by protesters.
In the late 1980s, Hurley portrayed the title character in a four-part television drama
. She also appeared in John Cleese's The Human Face
in 2001. In 2006, she hosted the inaugural season of the British reality series Project Catwalk
. The show drew tepid ratings with only 1% of its target audience tuning into the first few episodes. Hurley was almost universally criticised as a presenter. Marcelle D'Argy Smith, a former editor of Cosmopolitan
magazine, called her "witheringly boring" and added: "Liz Hurley has no fashion experience whatsoever. She wore a dress and has appeared at premieres." GQ
's Dylan Jones
defended her as someone "immersed in the fashion world as a celebrity." The Guardian
's TV critic ridiculed Hurley's "aspirational Basingstoke-gone-jetset accent and dead fish stare." The Sunday Mirror
described her as "the not-nice-but-dim host" in its review. It was revealed that Hurley also asked contestants to send her free clothes. She was dropped after one season because her bosses reportedly believed she was too wooden.
Hurley has been active in Estée Lauder's Breast Cancer
Awareness Campaign, as part of which the company created an "Elizabeth Pink" lipstick whose sales benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
. Hurley, whose grandmother died of breast cancer, was the mistress of ceremonies at "The Hot Pink Party" that marked the tenth anniversary of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She supported The Prince's Trust
by co-presenting the 2003 Fashion Rocks event in its aid and helping launch the Get Into Cooking youth initiative in 2004. She has also supported the End Hunger Network, ARK children's charity, and the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre
While Hurley was Hugh Grant
's girlfriend, he was embroiled in an international scandal for soliciting the services of a female prostitute in 1995. Hurley stood by him and accompanied Grant to the premiere of his movie Nine Months
. After 13 years together, Grant announced an "amicable" split from Hurley in May 2000. Hurley has lived in a London home owned by Grant since the break-up. She invited Grant to her wedding in 2007, but he chose not to attend. On 4 April 2002, Hurley gave birth to a son, Damian Charles Hurley. The baby's father, Steve Bing
, denied paternity by alleging that he and Hurley had a brief, non-exclusive relationship in 2001. A DNA
test, however, established Bing as the child's father. Hurley is godmother to Patsy Kensit
's son Lennon.
In late 2002, Hurley started dating Indian textile heir Arun Nayar, who runs a small software company since 1998. On 2 March 2007, Hurley and Nayar married at Sudeley Castle and then had a second wedding at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India. The Indian celebrations included a sangeet at Nagaur Fort and a reception at Mehrangarh Fort. The wedding ceremonies, photos of which were sold to Hello! magazine for a reported £2 million, were attended by Elton John (who gave Hurley away), Tracey Emin, Tom Ford, Elle Macpherson, Donatella Versace, Trinny Woodall, Tamara Mellon, Valentino, Janet Street Porter, Patsy Kensit, Leonard and Evelyn Lauder, among other celebrities. Hurley, who has an estimated net worth of £13 million according to the Daily Mail, resides in a organic farmhouse in Barnsley, Gloucestershire, with her son and husband.
Single episode appearances:
- The Cherry Orchard - A Jubilee (Russian & Soviet Arts Festival)
- The Man Most Likely To (Middle East tour)