Almost 23 years ago, Hugh Grant made a big mistake — then faced the ensuing scandal with rare-in-Hollywood candor.
Not long after making his 1995 film Nine Months, he was arrested in L.A. for lewd conduct with a prostitute named Divine Brown. “There were very talented people who made that film and really brilliant actors. Only one booby who let them down, and that was me. Not only was I terrible in the film, but I then chose to get arrested in Hollywood a week before the film came out,” Grant, 57, recalls to PEOPLE’s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle in the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview.
Grant says he decided to handle the situation by not making any excuses.
“I was just an idiot. I didn’t try to say, ‘I’ve got this psychological problem.’ I just said, ‘I did it,'” says Grant, who made a memorable apology on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “You know in life what’s a good thing to do and a bad thing to do. I did a bad thing,” Grant told Leno.
Grant, who’s earning rave reviews for his role in the new movie Paddington 2, talks about his rise to fame, his most memorable roles and costars and his life as a father of four (with a fifth on the way) in The Jess Cagle Interview.
For more from Hugh Grant, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
At the time of the 1995 incident, Grant was dating Elizabeth Hurley, who stayed with him through the ordeal. Although the two split five years later, they still remain great friends today.
“We’re like brother and sister. . . . I think it’s partly because we went from zero to somewhere together, and we went through terrible years at the beginning when neither of us had any work, living in a tiny flat. It was quite bonding.”
Paddington 2 hits theaters Jan. 12.