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In 1979, Grant won the Galsworthy scholarship to New College, Oxford, where he starred in his first film, Privileged, produced by the Oxford University Film Foundation. Actress Anna Chancellor, who met Grant while she was still at university, has recalled, "I first met Hugh at a party at Oxford. He was a star even then, without having done anything.
Grant joined the exclusive Piers Gaveston Society at Oxford, a group with a reputation for debauchery and decadence".
Grant's first leading film role came in Merchant-Ivory's Edwardian drama Maurice (1987), adapted from E. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Grant balanced small roles on television with rare film work, which included a supporting role in The Dawning (1988), opposite Anthony Hopkins and Jean Simmons and a turn as Lord Byron in a Goya Award-winning Spanish production called Remando al viento (1988).
His other work in period pieces such as Ken Russell's horror film The Lair of the White Worm (1988), award-winning Merchant-Ivory drama The Remains of the Day (1993) and (as Frédéric Chopin in) Impromptu (1991) went largely unnoticed.
Grant has received a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and an Honorary César for his work.
His films have earned more than US.4 billion from 25 theatrical releases worldwide.
In 1991, he played Julie Andrews' gay son in the ABC made-for-television film Our Sons.
In 1992, he appeared in Roman Polanski's film Bitter Moon, portraying a fastidious and proper British tourist who is married, but finds himself enticed by the sexual hedonism of a seductive French woman and her embittered, paraplegic American husband.