James Hugh Calum Laurie, OBE (born 11 June 1959) is an English actor, voice artist, comedian, writer, musician, recording artist, and director. He first became well known in the media as one half of the Fry and Laurie double act, along with his friend and comedy partner Stephen Fry, whom he joined in the cast of Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster from 1987 until 1999. Since 2004, he has played Dr Gregory House, the protagonist of House, for which he received two Golden Globe awards, two Screen Actors Guild awards and several Emmy nominations. As of August 2010, Laurie is the highest paid actor in a drama series on US television. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness Book Of World Records for the record of Highest Paid Actor in a TV Drama earning $400,000 per episode in House. His debut album, Let Them Talk, was released in May 2011. Laurie was born in Oxford, England. The youngest of four children, Laurie has an older brother named Charles and two older sisters named Susan and Janet. He had a somewhat strained relationship with his mother, Patricia (née Laidlaw). His father, Ran Laurie, was a medical doctor who also won an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pairs (rowing) at the 1948 London Games.
Although Laurie was raised in the Presbyterian church as a child, he has declared: "I don't believe in God, but I have this idea that if there were a God, or destiny of some kind looking down on us, that if he saw you taking anything for granted he'd take it away." He was brought up in Oxford and attended the Dragon School. He later went on to Eton and then to Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he studied for a degree in archaeology and social anthropology. While at Cambridge he was a member of Footlights, the university dramatic club that has produced many well known actors and comedians, and he was club president in 1981. He was also a member of the Hermes Club and the Hawks' Club. Like his father, Laurie was an oarsman at school and university; 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. In 1980, Laurie and his rowing partner, J. S. Palmer, were runners-up in the Silver Goblets coxless pairs for Eton Vikings rowing club. Later, he also achieved a Blue while taking part in the 1980 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. Cambridge lost that year by 5 feet. Laurie is a member of Leander Club, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world. Forced to abandon rowing during a bout of glandular fever (mononucleosis), he joined the Cambridge Footlights, which has been the starting point for many successful British comedians.
There he met Emma Thompson, with whom he had a romantic relationship; the two remain good friends. She introduced him to his future comedy partner, Stephen Fry. Laurie, Fry and Thompson later parodied themselves as the University Challenge representatives of "Footlights College, Oxbridge" in "Bambi", an episode of The Young Ones, with the series' co-writer Ben Elton completing their team. In 1980–81, his final year at university, besides rowing, Laurie was also president of the Footlights, with Thompson as vice-president. They took their annual revue, The Cellar Tapes, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and won the first Perrier Comedy Award. The revue was written principally by Laurie and Fry, and the cast also included Thompson, Tony Slattery, Paul Shearer and Penny Dwyer. The Perrier Award led to a West End transfer for The Cellar Tapes and a television version of the revue, broadcast in May 1982. It resulted in Laurie, Fry and Thompson being selected, along with Ben Elton, Robbie Coltrane and Siobhan Redmond to write and appear in a new sketch comedy show for Granada Television, Alfresco, which ran for two series. Fry and Laurie went on to work together on various projects throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Among them were the Blackadder series, written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis, starring Rowan Atkinson, with Laurie in various roles, but most notably Prince George and Lieutenant George. Other projects followed, of which one was their BBC sketch comedy series A Bit of Fry & Laurie; another project was Jeeves and Wooster, an adaptation of P. G. Wodehouse’s stories, in which Laurie played Jeeves’s employer, the amiable twit Bertie Wooster. He and Fry worked together at various charity stage events, such as Hysteria! 1, 2 & 3 and Amnesty International’s The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball, Comic Relief TV shows and the variety show Fry and Laurie Host a Christmas Night with the Stars. They collaborated again on the film Peter's Friends and came together for a retrospective show in 2010 titled Fry and Laurie Reunited. Laurie starred in the Thames Television film "Letters from a Bomber Pilot" (1985) directed by David Hodgson. This was a serious acting role, the film being dramatised from the letters home of Pilot Officer J.R.A. "Bob" Hodgson, a pilot in RAF Bomber Command, who was killed in action in 1943.
Laurie appeared in the music videos for the 1986 single "Experiment IV" by Kate Bush and the 1992 single "Walking on Broken Glass" by Annie Lennox, in full Georgian-period costume, a toned-down version of his Prince George character from Blackadder the Third, opposite John Malkovich, similarly reprising his role of the Vicomte Valmont from Dangerous Liaisons. Laurie’s later film appearances include Sense and Sensibility (1995), adapted by and starring Emma Thompson; the Disney live-action film 101 Dalmatians (1996), where he played Jasper, one of the bumbling criminals hired to kidnap the puppies; Elton’s adaptation of his novel Inconceivable, Maybe Baby (2000); Girl From Rio; the 2004 remake of The Flight of the Phoenix; and the three Stuart Little films. In 1996, Laurie’s first novel, The Gun Seller, an intricate thriller laced with Wodehouseian humour, was published and became a best-seller. He has since been working on the screenplay for a movie version and on a second novel, The Paper Soldier. In 1998, Laurie had a brief guest-starring role on Friends in "The One with Ross's Wedding, Part Two". Since 2002, Laurie has appeared in a range of British television dramas, guest-starring that year in two episodes of the first season of the spy thriller series Spooks on BBC One. In 2003, he starred in and also directed ITV's comedy-drama series fortysomething (in one episode of which Stephen Fry appears). In 2001, he voiced the character of a bar patron in the Family Guy episode "One If by Clam, Two If by Sea". Laurie voiced the character of Mr. Wolf in the cartoon Preston Pig. He was a panellist on the first episode of QI, alongside Fry as host. In 2004, Laurie guest-starred as a professor in charge of a space probe called Beagle, on The Lenny Henry Show.
Laurie was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in House in 2005. Although he did not win, he did receive a Golden Globe in both 2006 and 2007 for his work on the series and the Screen Actors Guild award in 2007 and 2009. Laurie was also awarded a large increase in salary, from what was rumoured to be a mid-range five-figure sum to $350,000 per episode. Laurie was not nominated for the 2006 Emmys, apparently to the outrage of Fox executives, but he still appeared in a scripted, pre-taped intro, where he parodied his House character by rapidly diagnosing host Conan O'Brien and then proceeded to grope him as the latter asked him for help to get to the Emmys on time. He would later go on to speak in French while presenting an Emmy with Dame Helen Mirren, and has since been nominated in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Laurie's success on the show extends to the financial: in August 2010, TV Guide identified him as the highest-paid actor in a drama, saying he's paid over $400,000 per episode. In August 2007, Laurie appeared on BBC Four's documentary Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out, filmed in celebration of Fry’s 50th birthday. In 2008, Laurie appeared as Captain James Biggs in Street Kings, opposite Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, and then in 2009 as the eccentric Dr. Cockroach, PhD in DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens. He also hosted Saturday Night Live for the second time on the Christmas show in which he sang a medley of three-second Christmas songs to close his monologue. In 2009, Laurie returned to guest star in another Family Guy episode, "Business Guy", parodying Gregory House and himself assuming an American accent. In 2010, Laurie filmed an independent feature called The Oranges and played piano on a track of Meat Loaf's CD Hang Cool Teddy Bear. In 2010, Laurie guest starred in The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XXI" as Roger, a castaway who is planning a murder scheme on a ship during Homer and Marge's second honeymoon.
From the age of six Laurie took piano lessons with a Mrs Hare. He plays the piano, guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone. He has displayed his musical talents in episodes of several television series, most notably A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster, House and when he hosted Saturday Night Live in October 2006. He is a vocalist and keyboard player for the Los Angeles charity rock group Band From TV. Additionally, following Meat Loaf's appearance in the House episode "Simple Explanation," Laurie played piano as a special guest on the song "If I Can't Have You" from Meat Loaf's 2010 album Hang Cool Teddy Bear. On episodes of House he has played several classic rock 'n roll instruments including Gibson Flying V and Les Paul guitars. His character has a Hammond B-3 organ in his home and on one episode performed the introduction to Procol Harum's classic "Whiter Shade of Pale". Laurie appears as a scientist/doctor in the pop video to accompany Kate Bush's song Experiment IV. On 1 May 2011, Laurie and a jazz quintet closed the 2011 Cheltenham Jazz Festival to great acclaim. On 15 May 2011 Laurie was the subject of the ITV series Perspectives, explaining his love for the music of New Orleans and playing music, from his album Let Them Talk, at studios and live venues in the city itself. Laurie's mother, Patricia (née Laidlaw), died from motor neurone disease in Oxfordshire at the age of 73 in 1989, when Laurie was 30. According to Laurie, it took her two years to die, and she suffered "painful, plodding paralysis" while being cared for by Laurie's father, whom he called "the sweetest man in the whole world".
Laurie married theatre administrator Jo Green in June 1989 in Camden, London. They live in Belsize Park, London with sons Charles Archibald "Charlie" (born November 1988, Camden), William Albert "Bill" (born January 1991, Camden) and daughter Rebecca Augusta (born 10 September 1993, Westminster). They had planned to move the whole family to Los Angeles in 2008 due to the strain of being mostly separated for 9 months each year, but ultimately decided against it. Charlie had a cameo in A Bit of Fry & Laurie in the last sketch of the episode entitled Special Squad, as baby William (whom Stephen and Hugh begin to "interrogate" about "what he's done with the stuff", calling him a scumbag and telling him that he's been a very naughty boy) during his infancy, while Rebecca had a role in the film Wit as five-year-old Vivian Bearing. On 23 May 2007 Laurie was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year Honours List, for his services to drama, by Queen Elizabeth II. Laurie has periodically struggled with severe clinical depression, and continues to receive regular treatment from a psychotherapist. He stated in an interview that he first concluded he had a problem while driving in a charity demolition derby in 1996, and realised that driving around explosive crashes caused him to be neither excited nor frightened (he said that he felt bored). "Boredom," he commented in an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, "is not an appropriate response to exploding cars." 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. Laurie is an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has two motorcycles, one at his London home and one at his Los Angeles home. His bike in the United States is a Triumph Bonneville, his "feeble attempt to fly the British flag".
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