In 1995, Hugh Grant was arrested in Hollywood for receiving oral sex in a public place from a sex worker named Divine Brown. The British star, who was dating fellow actor Elizabeth Hurley at the time, quickly released a statement: “Last night I did something completely insane. I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say.”
This was very bad timing, as it happened just 18 days before the release of his first Hollywood star turn in Nine Months.
To address the scandal, Grant appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and so many people tuned in that it beat The Late Show With David Letterman in the ratings for the first time in a year. Leno got right to it, asking Grant, “What the hell were you thinking?”
Grant replied, “I think you know in life what’s a good thing to do and what’s a bad thing, and I did a bad thing. And there you have it.” He had a similarly even-keeled response on Larry King Live, saying, “In the end, you have to come clean and say, ‘I did something dishonorable, shabby, and goatish.'” In response, CNN wrote, “By apologizing publicly, Grant has taught celebrities facing scandals in the future a lesson in how to defuse a crisis.”
The campaign to rehabilitate Grant’s image (quickly) worked — Nine Months became the biggest comedy of the summer, grossing $138 million worldwide.
Grant later pleaded no contest to the crime and, after paying a fine, was placed on two years’ probation and ordered to complete an AIDS education program.