Hugh Laurie’s Dr. House is notoriously crabby on the Fox series “House,” but the star himself has the blues – and he couldn’t be happier.
As we prepare this fall for the eighth and final season of “House” – one without Dr. Cuddy no less – the series’ star is reinventing himself behind the scenes as a jazz musician.
Laurie was on hand Saturday in Los Angeles to speak with TV critics about his upcoming PBS special, “Great Performances: Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk – A Celebration of New Orleans Blues,” in which he plays the blues and jazz in New Orleans with the likes of Tom Jones, Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas. For the actor, it’s clearly a deep passion and a dream come true.
Here the highlights from Hugh Laurie’s discussion about his not-so-secret life as a musician:
On Hugh Laurie, the jazz musician:
“I suppose I feel as if this whole experience has been, really, closer to who I am than many things I’ve done, and I suppose that, because the subject was so dear to my heart and the odyssey, if I can pretentiously call it that, was so important to me, I suppose it was something that I was able to not really consciously worry about too much. I just let it happen. It was very unplanned. It was a genuine journey of discovery.”
On how his music was received by New Orleans:
“The jury is still out. I have no idea as to how the record will be received, and I, obviously, have no idea how this film will be received. But then, one never does as a performer. You put these things out there in good faith, hoping that they will touch people in some way, and that’s all you can do.”
Hugh Laurie wants you to get rid of your iPod:
“God bless the radio. I’ve gone back to the radio, and I’ve gone back to vinyl because I think there is something slightly corrosive about the whole iPod experience of surrounding yourself with only your favorites. I don’t think any of us should be surrounded by our favorite anything. We should, all of us, be brought up against different things, new things, things you’ve never heard, and the radio is a wonderful way to do that.”
He may be on a hit show, but Laurie doesn’t watch a lot of television:
“It’s a peculiar thing about being in a television drama, that you tend deliberately to not watch other ones, because it’s slightly clouds your in a sort of technical way, it I don’t watch I watch documentaries more than I watch dramas. I like to sample. I like to sort of know roughly what’s out there, and so I’ve seen a little bit of most things, but only a little bit.”
Does he see himself giving up acting some day for music?
“I do. I do. In fact, I’ve had that in my head for many, many years. I used to have this rather romantic idea of playing in a jazz trio in Lisbon. I don’t know why I settled on Lisbon. I’ve never been to Lisbon. I know nothing about it. I think they have red tile roofs. That’s all I know about Lisbon. And they may have lots of vibrant jazz cafes; I don’t know. But that was my idea. And it’s always been at the back of my mind that that’s where I would wind up, you know, I’d be playing “Autumn Leaves” in some hotel lobby somewhere. Yeah, it’s been in my mind for decades.”
The project came at the right place and the right time in his life:
“I’ve been blessed … It’s amazing that I was able to find, sort of forge a new identity and a new audience and sort of start all over again. I arrived with as blank a canvas as canvases get. And that doesn’t happen very often to actors.”
“This was a diem I had to carpe,” he added.
Hugh Laurie’s “Great Performances” special will air in September on PBS, and his debut album, “Let Them Talk,” is available now in the U.K. and will soon be released in the U.S.