Elizabeth Hurley prepares for parenthood—with or without the multimillionaire dad

By People Staff
November 26, 2001 12:00 PM

Never one to avoid attention, Elizabeth Hurley seemed particularly jolly with the reporters she greeted outside her London townhouse on Nov. 9. And why not, considering the good news the model-actress-film producer was confirming: She’s preggers. “I’m delighted,” Hurley said. “The baby is due in April. But no, I have no idea if it’s a boy or a girl. The morning sickness is not too bad…everything is going really well.”

Everything, that is, except relations with dad-to-be Stephen Bing, an American movie producer and heir to a real estate fortune. Hurley and Bing, both 36, had been an item since shortly after her mid-2000 breakup with actor Hugh Grant. But “the relationship broke down because of the pregnancy,” says British journalist “William Cash, a friend of Hurley’s who wrote a lengthy and hostile story about Bing in Britain’s Daily Mail on Nov. 10. “He was not very happy [about the news]. Since then he has hardly spoken to her.”

Indeed, when Hurley visited a London hospital Nov. 6 for a prenatal checkup, the man by her side wasn’t Bing, but Grant, 41, who lives around the corner from her. Since calling off their 13-year romance, the two have remained “best friends,” Hurley told PEOPLE last year, and Grant has reportedly been tapped to be the child’s godfather. “I think she’ll make a great mother,” says a friend, Sean Borg, who owns a London public relations firm. “She has so many supportive people around her.”

Bing won’t say if he’s one of them; he has declined all comment since news of the pregnancy broke. Though the British press has been painting the Los Angeles-based producer—previously linked to such stars as Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman and Farrah Fawcett—as a caddish playboy, some who know him differ. “He strikes me as an immensely caring person,” says actress Lin Shaye, who costars in the forthcoming Bing-produced romantic comedy Without Charlie. “He seems like he’d be a fabulous father.”

Hurley, who jetted to L.A. on Nov. 10, only laughed when a reporter asked her if she was going to visit Bing. And while the mom-to-be has managed to quit smoking, fitting the new role into her sex-symbol image may be harder. Hurley has gone without a big Hollywood hit since 1997’s Austin Powers and ended a seven-year run as the sole face of Estée Lauder cosmetics in September when the company added a younger model, Carolyn Murphy. (Hurley’s last film, Bedazzled, grossed $37 million.) Pal Borg isn’t worried. “She’ll go for more serious roles,” he says. “If anything, motherhood will enhance her image and show a deeper, more caring side to her nature. She’ll still be out there in lights, that’s for sure.”