Except for doing press for his latest movie, Love Actually, Hugh Grant is taking a break to rethink his life: the filmmaking grind, the tabloids' hostility, the lack (at 42) of one wedding and a family. David Kamp gets beneath the charmingly urbane skin of Hollywood's most underappreciated rom-com star for a discussion of Grant's hilarious B-picture beginning, his search for Ms. Right, and why he's not the character he plays.
A capacity crowd fills the Royal Palm Ballroom of the Radisson Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota, Florida, where the attendees of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association's annual meeting are getting their reward for 3 days of intensive seminars: an audience with Hugh Grant, movie star. Though his hair has gone white, it's every bit as thick and tousled as it was in his "Four weddings and a funeral" days, and a few lady surgeons in the ballroom are noticeably vaporous in his presence. After an introduction from the association's grinning, nervous director, Grant strides briskly up to the lectern. "I'm terribly sorry to disappoint you," he says. "I know that your first choice, George Clooney, spurned you in favor of the podiatrists' convention down the road at the Hyatt. Horrid man. What's more, he seldom bathes - Julia Roberts told me that. Well, I'm afraid you'll have to make do with me. And at least I am clean."
This is all charming nonsense, needless to say. The gathered physicians are delighted with Grant, and he will be paid $3 million for this appearance. In the 31 years since he made his last film, in2003, his stock as a public figure has skyrocketed. Every halfway
presentable young actor who comes is posited by the press as "the new Hugh Grant," and to his adoring public he represents a vanished much-lamented era when words, were as important as images in the movies, and not all films were required to include a martial-arts sequence and a depiction of actual coitus. His speech to the surgeons, a well-rehearsed mixture of self-deprecating anecdotes and moviemaking recollections, augmented by a presentation of old film clips, lasts barely 20 minutes, though he takes care to work in mentions of the Narwhal Trust, his foundation devoted to the preservation of the endangered tusked marine mammal, and the House of Balenciaga, for whom he serves as "international goodwill ambassador" in exchange for an annual stipend rumored to be in the eight figures. Grant fills out the remainder of his scheduled hour by opening the floor to questions. As usual, a great many of them concern Elizabeth Hurley, whose early fame as Grant's girlfriend was long ago eclipsed by her status as the ravishing unwed mother for whom King William gave up the throne, paving the way for Harry's coronation....
Well, it's not a totally far-fetched scenario. This was more or less
how Cary Grant, to whom Hugh is sometimes compared, lived out his last decades - traveling the world, acting as a well-compensated spokesman for the Faberge cosmetics company, serving on the boards of MGM and Western Airlines, working on his tan, attending ball games, remaining impossibly handsome, and resisting all entreaties to return to the screen. And the truth is, Hugh Grant, who will turn 43 this year, doesn't know how much longer he wants to go on making movies. "Imagine what it's like, at 42, to be sitting in Hair and Makeup," he says. "It's fucking ridiculous! I think it's all right if you've written the film and you're directing it; there's some kudos and cool to that. But to be wheeled on, a char-monkey at the age of 42 -" I interrupt and tell him that he's being absurd, that actors like Tom Courtenay are still doing great for-hire work in their 60's. "But, you see," he says. "they're real actors. They love their work. I never have. I kind of hate it. In fact, I hate it quite a lot - all acting, but especially movie acting. I'm fine at the beginning of the day, when it's a wide shot; I'm quite relaxed and good. But by the end of the day, when it's the same scene you're still shooting, and it's you in close-up, and the entire focus is on you - now you've got to repeat the little amusing thing you did earlier. And it's so brutally difficult to do that, because you're not feeling relaxed anymore. You're trying to repeat something you caught, by sort of instinct, 8 hours ago. And you're probably running out of light. You've got to wrap at 7 - huge pressure. Just misery. And because, 9 times out of 10, you never really get it as good as you had it before, you go home feeling disappointed and frustrated. And that accumulates over the weeks and years, and you just think, Oh, I don't need this."
Not a moment after unbosoming this complaint, Grant becomes mindful of the kind of response it might engender ("If that silver-spoon pervert Hugh Grant thinks acting is so awful, he should try working a real job like the rest of us!" - A. Shrew, Corpulence, Texas), and backpedals somewhat: "Oh, I don't know. I hate it when an actor moans. Really, my life's lovely. I'm rich and my life's luxurious. But, above all, all I feel is nervous exhaustion. I fell into being a successful actor truly by mistake, so I'd never really desired being stared at, and that can be quite wearying after a bit. My mother, just before she died 2 years ago, grabbed my hand and said, 'Just promise you'll take a year off.' And I think she may have
Grant's personal life, long neglected, sounds like it could use some sorting out. He's somehow managed to accumulated 4 homes in W. London, including a "Dr. Evil-type penthouse" in South Kensington that he's never bothered to move into. "I bought it slightly drunk, to be honest," he says, brimming with buyer's remorse. "It's extremely high-tech; if you want to take a bath, you have to use the computer." In this same vein, he owns a speedy midlife-crisis-mobile he hardly ever drives, an Aston Martin Vanquish that he was goaded into buying by Nicholas Hoult, his 12 year old, car-loving co-star in last year's "About a boy". Constitutionally incapable of J. Lo flashness, Grant prefers to "swish around London in my anonymous Mercedes" and to live in the damp, rickety Chelsea town house he bought in the aftermath of his breakup with Hurley, though he still maintains ownership of the house he shared with her ("where she now lives with her 20 nannies") and his original London flat.
Hugh's mum would be delighted to know that her work-addled son currently has no projects lined up. He recently finished work on a film called Love Actually, the directorial debut of Richard Curtis. Aside from promoting that film when it comes out later this year, Grant has zero professional obligations - a bold move for someone who commands upwards of $10 million a picture. "I have called my own bluff to a certain extent," he says. "because I said, "I'm refusing everything, I'm not doing anything for months and months' - and suddenly confronted 40 years of my future. From a diary that was chockablock to diary that's empty - quite an alarming moment." How long this hiatus will last, he has no idea: months, a year, years. When we meet, late in February, he's 3 weeks into his new life as an idler; the last bit of actual work he did was an intensive round of promotion for the European release of "Two weeks notice", his rom-com with Sandra Bullock, which performed middlingly in America last year. Thus far, elective unemployment agrees with him. "It's amazing," he says. "All the old pleasures of life that dropped away - like reading books, seeing friends, playing a bit of golf, just sort of breathing - have been very luxurious. You immediately start thinking, Oh, yeah, I used to be that kind of person, with all kinds of interests."
Among those interests, he says, is writing: "The people who know me best say, 'For Christ's sake, you've done your acting thing, now go and write some!'" More than most actors, Grant has some claim to functional literacy. He went to New College at Oxford, can offhandedly recommend contemporary novels for you to read (his current lit picks: Michel Houellebecq's Platform and William Boyd's Any Human Heart), and was a writer of sorts before his movie career took off - as a member of postcollegiate comedy troupe call the Jockey of Norfolk ("We did a Nativity play in the style of the old Ealing films") and as an advertising copywriter for radio. "Brylcreem was one of our big clients," he says. "The stuff you put in your hair? Very 50's, and the wanted to bring it back. We did a series of 1950's sort of spoof ads that would go along the lines of (exciteable mid-century newsreader's voice) 'Here we are in the heart of London's swinging Soho district, and we asked this man how he keeps his hair so smart!' Or 'Here we are in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 jet! I say, Captain, you're looking very well groomed!' It was all like that."
Grant could very well turn out to have a gift for comic novels and amusing memoirs, as his spiritual forebear David Niven did, but the problem for now is that he can't muster the discipline to devote himself fully to finding out. "If I was just a little more energetic, or perhaps, a lot more energetic, and really knew that on Monday morning I would sit down at 9 AM and begin my novel - albeit a shitone - I'd quit acting right now, this instant," he says. "My problem is that I know that at 9 AM on Monday morning I'll still be in bed,and I'll get up at 10, and then someone'll call and say, 'Come and play golf,' and I'll be off. I could spend 10 or 20 years doing that. That's the only reason that will keep me acting. Because otherwise,I'm gonna drift."
Three cheers, then, for sloth and procrastination, the writer's banes. I happen to like Hugh-Grant-as-movie-actor. If that declaration has a whiff of defensiveness about it, it's because liking Hugh Grant is not really considered cool. This is particularly true in his native England, where a wide swath of the population views him as a pompous irritant and his Richard Curtis-written films as an affront to what England is truly about - namely poverty, soot, and sausage rolls. Grant and Curtis, you see, have specialized in bright, peppy rom-coms about the upper middle class, and for this they have received a thorough pasting. "Maybe not in America so much, but here, there's always a certain amount of sneering - you know, 'Life isn't really like this!'" Grant says. "Curtis World, they call it - where people fall in love and like each other and make jokes.
"Four weddings and a funeral", the first proper Curtis World film, was a watershed for British cinema and, not coincidentally, for Grant himself. Before the movie's 1994 release, British films tended to skew in one of two directions - the stiff-collared period epic or the damn-you-Thatcher socialist tirade of the Stephen Frears variety: "the white-linen-suit school or the grunge school," as Grant puts it. With his achingly pretty looks and Oxford pedigree, Grant was a natural for the former category, and there were worse ways to supplement his income as a comedy-troupe member and ad copywriter. He began his feature-film career as a Merchant Ivory boy (the 80's equivalent of a Ziegfeld girl) in "Maurice", an opulent adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel of homosexual love at Cambridge in the Edwardian era. "I got the job completely under false pretenses," says Grant, "because James Ivory had seen my troupe's revue - he'd seen something on tape - and thought I was going to bring a lot of humor to the role. Of course, I brought absolutely zip humor to it."
"Maurice" was an auspicious start to an acting career he had never seriously contemplated, but, like such other M-I boys as Julian Sands, Rupert Graves, and James Wilby, Grant soon found himself struggling. For every semi-prestigious film like Ken Russell's Lair of the Worm there were three half-cocked, mortifying movies of the sort Grant call Euro-puddings - "where you would have a French script, a Spanish director, and English actors," he says. "The script would usually be written by a foreigner, badly translated into English. And then they'd get English actors in, because they thought that was the way to sell in America. Of course, these films didn't sell in America, because they were appallingly translated. You'd be saying extraordinary lines like 'Deep down in the lake there is slime and lichen - that is how you are, Mary!' Things that made literally no sense at all: 'Put that back, shave-pig!' You'd say to the director, 'You know, in English, we don't actually say "shave-pig." And the German in question would say, 'Yes, you do!' Obviously, the word exists in German - it's one of those compound terms, meaning, I suppose, someone who is badly shaven."
Life as king of the Europuddings was, initially, "hilarious" - Grant was paid decent money, got to travel to beautiful locales, and came home with amusing stories to tell his friends. And it was while working on one such 'pudding, "Remando al Viento (Rowing with the wind)" that he met Elizabeth Hurley, with whom he would be an item for 13 years. But by the time he reached his early 30's, Grant looked in the mirror and saw an aging B-picture hack, a man en route to becoming his generation's Simon MacCorkindale. "That's why I walked up the steps to the audition for "Four weddings" with such a heavy tread," he says. "I was thinking, This joke's worn thin. And it's just humiliating now to be an actor who goes up for jobs and most of the time doesn't get them. And then, of course, almost to my horror, I did get the job."
"Four weddings and a funeral", which was originally marketed as a vehicle for its American star, Andie MacDowell, was an altogether different kind of movie from what Grant was used to: a smart, thoroughly modern comedy about an ascendant group of lovable bourgeois bohemians, unabashed in its desire to entertain. (Curtis's one previous movie feature, "The Tall Guy", starring Jeff Goldblum and Emma Thompson, was even funnier, but in an eccentric, micro-British way.) To everyone's surprise, "Four weddings" became the most financially successful British film ever, and , in the process, clued in us Americans to a revivifying London we didn't know about, where people wore purple-lined Ozwald Boateng suits, drank decent coffee, and sprinted purposefully through Soho while talking on their mobiles - it was an augury of the new Blairite Britain that was taking shape. Grant, sporting the first hairstyle ever to consist entirely of tumbling forelocks, became a huge star, and women the world over fell for his character's adorable syntactic convolutions and perpetually apologetic demeanor. ("I really fell, uh, in short, to recap it slightly in a clearer version, uh, the words of David Cassidy - in fact, uh, while he was still with the Partridge Family, uh - I think I love you. And, uh, I-I just wondered if by any chance you wouldn't like to... Uh... Uh... No, no, no, of course not... I'm an idiot.")
But England is a country that tears down its successes like no other, and it wasn't long before Curtis World and its foremost citizen were being picked apart. "I think that because of the first successful film I did, backed up by "Notting Hill", in which I again I played a character who was quite diffident - the Richard Curtis character - I that mademe a target for guys who could have a go at me for not being butchenough," Grant says. "I was just playing a part, but people used tosay, 'Oh, Hugh Grant's a pussy.'" (Curtis seems much more able thanGrant to take the criticism of their work in stride. "I always say that, if you go to a dinner party of 10 people, not all of them are going to like you," he says.) "Notting Hill", from 1999, received some outright hostile reviews. One British magazine panned it as "the smuggest movie ever made"; Grant, in the same review, was singled out for his "lack of range" and for looking, at age 39, "frayed around the edges and, in truth, a little ropey."
I won't deny that Curtis World is too damned perfect to be real, particularly in the way it strikes an all-too-exquisite balance between carefree hipster gaiety and reg'lar-folks humility. (In "Four Weddings", everyone quips marvelously and romps on manor-house lawns, but the clique's most fantabulous member, the bekilted poofter played by Simon Callow, is revealed upon his death to have been a self-invention from a grim, smokestack parish. In "Notting Hill", Grant's humble bookshop owner stumbles into a fling with a gorgeous movie star played by Julia Roberts, but remains anchored by his coterie of appealingly ordinary friends, most of whom are struggling at work, and one of whom is wheel chair bound.) But since when has social verisimilitude been a requirement of romantic comedy? Isn't frothy escapism kind of the point? The fact is, these movies (along with "Bridget Jones's Diary", which Curtis helped Helen Fielding adapt from her novel of that title) are wonderful entertainment, and more power to Grant and Curtis for fighting the good fight on behalf of romantic comedy for grown-ups - a genre ignored by the powers that be but hungered for by the general public, which, in its ardor for non-Vin Diesel-oriented cinema, turned the endearing but artless "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" into a monster hit.
Love Actually will do little to tamp down the ire of Curtis World's detractors. Grant describes it as "balls-out Richard Curtis," meaning that it's even more guilelessly optimistic and life-affirming thanthe writer's previous works - and set at Christmastime, no less. Hestresses that the movie is an ensemble piece with multiple narrativestrands - "like Short Cuts, but a little more jokey" - and that he isbut one member of a rock-'em-sock-'em cast that includes Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, and Laura Linney. But Grant's is the central story line, through which the others thread - he plays a newly elected British prime minister ("not based on anymore, I hasten to add") who falls in love with the girl who brings him tea - and it is his character who delivers the film's keynote voice-over. "The camera is on the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport, and people are coming through and greeting friends, relations, mothers - kissing, hugging, all the stuff you actually see in airports," Grant says. "And the voice-over is saying, 'Everyone says the world is going down the tubes, and full of hatred and misery. But that's not the way I see it. You know, when the planes hit the Twin Towers, the last messages from those planes and buildings weren't ones of hatred and revenge; they were ones of love. So I think that blah, blah, blah...Love, actually, is all around, as they say in the song.'" The song to which he alludes is not "Love Is All Around" we Americans know from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but the 60s hit of the same title by the British band the Troggs, whose original was covered by the group Wet Wet Wet for the soundtrack of Four weddings and a funeral.
Hmm, a lot to sneer at there: a smartypants allusion to one's previous work; a c'mon-people exhortation to believe in love; an utterly self-conscious deployment of that stock yuppie-boomer hedge word "actually". Even Grant was wary of plunging headlong into this kind of stuff again. Prior to Love Actually, he had determinedly chosen roles that were less sympathetic than those for which he'd become known. In Bridget Jones's Diary, from 2001, he was an unrepentant womanizer who embraces and casts aside Renée Zellweger's title character at whim. In last year's About a boy, he was an unrepentant womanizer who preys on lovelorn single moms and contributes nothing to society, living off the royalties of a novelty song his father wrote. And in Two weeks notice, he played a vain, Trump-ish developer who thoughtlessly demolishes landmark buildings. "Hugh had a lot of trepidation that I was going to ask him to be the person he was in Notting Hill and Four Weddings," says Curtis. "He'd really enjoyed About a boy and Bridget, where he got to be bad, and he was quite firm with me on this one: 'You're trying to get me to play a puppy dog again.'"
"I said to Richard, 'I don't know that I really can go back to being that nice person - it maybe seems a little retrograde,'" Grant says. "But he kind of adjusted things, and we put a little more steel in the character."
"He can't be insubstantial and dithery as prime minister," Curtis says. "In Notting Hill, he was divorced. In Four Weddings, he was this 35-year-old, perplexed that he hadn't yet found love. Here, he's as far away from failure as you can be."
The big joke shared by Grant and Curtis is that the former, by virtue of the parts he's played, is assumed to have the personality of the latter, even though, as Grant says, "I am, in many ways, the reverse of Richard. I'm full of poison and jealousy. Virtually no milk of human kindness:" This appraisal is sceonded, more or less, by Grant's friend Eric Fellner, who, with Tim Bevan, has produced all of Grant's Richard Curtis films, plus About a boy. "He is Daniel Cleaver," says Fellner, alluding by name to Grant's charming but reptilian Bridget Jones character. "I think Daniel Cleaver is quite a fair representation of who Hugh is - though, as he gets older, Hugh is starting to morph into some of his softer roles."
Grant is especially proud of his recent work in About A Boy and Two Weeks Notice, and even Curtis says that Grant's acting future may lie in "wicked parts". But, really, Grant's wicked parts have been about as wicked as Peter Rabbit; Bill the Butcher and Hannibal Lecter they're not. In nearly every recent film (even the uncharacteristic About a boy, in which he crossed the Marylebone Roard into Nick Hornby's drab North London), he plays a man who is blithely witty and financially well off but emotionally remote - until the end, when he breaks down and confesses his true feelings.
When I put this observation to Grant, that his characters, good or bad, have a sameishness to them, he seems crestfallen. (Though there's less crest to fall than there used to be: "The lazy journalist always says, 'Let's find an epithet for Hugh Grant,' and calls me 'floppy-haired.' I haven't had floppy hair for three years"!) "I don't know," he says. "Maybe it's a valid criticism. I look at a lot of actors and I think, Yeah, that's pretty much him. With the exception of the Gary Oldmans and the Daniel Day-Lewises, I don't see massive changes in most film actors from part to part. But I should just point out, in passing, that in About a boy, from an English point of view, I was actually doing just a teeny bit of acting there. Because the chracter is very North London - not posh. There's actually an accent I'm doing in that film." I explain to Grant that my comment wasn't intended as a criticism; I see him as a crack comic actor in the tradition of Cary Grant and William Powell, who put their gifts to subtly different uses (Powell was rakishly lovable as Nick Charles in The Thin Man, rakishly sleazy as Senator Melvin Ashton in The Senator Was Indiscreet) while carrying the same persona from film to film."Oh," says Grant. "Perhaps I'm being too sensitive."
Grant is sensitive about a lot of things. The word "fop", which I trot out in the context of Maurice, sets him off even more than "floppy-haired." "Let's discuss the word 'fop,'" he says sternly. "Because, again, bad journalists always preface my name with the word 'fop,' but I assume they don't know what a fop is. Do you know what a fop is?"
Yikes - I'm being gotcha'd! I mutter something about, you know, dandified Edwardians...
"Well, no," he says. "I find it kind of exasperating. A fop is someone who takes tremendous interest in his own appearance - 'My waistcoat, darling.' It's from the 18th century. And I've never played a character remotely like that. 'Effete' is another word that erroneously gets used with me - which actually , of course, means 'tired.'" I think he's hairsplitting. "Effete" can also convey an air of decadence and self-indulgence - fair game for an actor who has played Lord Byorn in a Europudding and played someone named Lord James D'Ampton in a Ken Russell vampire movie - and Grant's characters, if not literally fops, have frequently been dashing types whose period costumes and immaculately tailored morning coars suggest perhaps a slightly-greater-than-ordinary interest in looking good. Besides, he's sitting across from me - an actor on his year off, in the middle of the afternoon - wearing a gorgeous navy-blue suit, custom-made by Richard James, of heavy-napped, moleskinish material. And his hair is stiffened with styling product.
But I feel for Grant, because he's underrespected as a performer, as comic actors often are, and because he's a decent fellow (who later apologizes for "being defensive") over whom hangs a disproportionately large cloud of tabloid malevolence - a circumstance directly related to his blithe, pretty, too perfect persona, which makes him a more welcoming target than, say, Matt Damon in his Champion sweats and bent-billed Bosox cap. (Our interview takes place in the London offices of Simian Films, the production company Grant still runs with Hurley. The first thing he does upon his arrival is riffle through an assistant's "in" bin of clippings from the daily gossip columns, just to see what's been written about him and his ex-girlfriend.) Even the Internet Movie Database Web site, which normally exudes a bland reference-too neutrality in its cataloguing of film credits and biographical data, is bitchy in its Hugh Grant entry. Its "Trivia" section notes: "Grant was arrested for lewd conduct after cops found him with Divine Brown, a prostitute, in his car... Opted not to do a nude scene in Four weddings and a funeral (1994) when a make-up artist askes if he wanted definition painted on his body... On the set of Mickey Blue Eyes, James Caan gave Hugh the nickname of Whippy, because Caan said he worried about everything like 'the little whippet dogs that get nervous and you got to put a sweater on them when they're cold.'"
'And the story about James Caan calling me Whippy is actually my story - I invented that!" says Grant. "The same with the nude-scene story. It's my delightful, enchanting story I tell against myself. It wasn't even in Four weddings. I think there was a BBC thing I once did where the makeup woman told me she once worked with an actor who asked her to paint in some definition. Which I then used against myself." Grant is at a loss to explain the ill will he elicits, and why, eight years after the fact, he still hasn't lived down the Divine Brown incident, even while other celebrities, like Magic Johnson and Michael Douglas, have endured far less persecution for far more consequential infidelities. "Maybe I am, in some way, obnoxious," he says. "That's all I can guess at. I must say, I watch myself doing interviews on TV and I think, Yeah, that is sick-making. But, I mean, that may just be how everyone reacts to seeing themselves, like when you listen to your answering machine and you can't stand the sound of your own voice. I can't tell if I really am obnoxious."
Grant admits that his current withdrawl from movies is motivated partly by a desire to escape the pressures of being "stalked". But he also allows that his working life, which on recent films has involved "the whole caboodle - script development, the acting, and then the editing and the marketing," has kept him from maintaining any semblance of a romantic life, and that he's hoping to use his time off to find the girl of his dreams. "I'm ready, baby", he says. "I need to get marrried and have children. Put it this way: If I went to a party tonight and bumped into a fantastic girl - whereas three years ago it might have led to a short-term relationship, now I definitely keep my thoughts open to the idea of settling down and breeding. Definitely." A reunion with Hurley, who would come with a ready-made son, Damian, is not in the cards: "She's with another guy, and, you know, we're good friends. But, no - that train has sailed, as Austin Powers would say."
It sounds like a line from a bad novel, but as dusk settles in and the room darkens, the handsome film star grows wistful. "I look around and I see my friends with children," Grant says, legs streched out before him, "and I think, Lucky them. Do you have children?"
"Two", I say.
"How old are you, bitch?" he says.
"Almost 37," I say.
"Yeah, you see? You married, happy. I'm not unhappy. I just feel that I have too much career, too little home life. My father, after we've had a couple bottles of wine, he always says, 'You know, children are really the best thing in life.' I don't disagree with him. My only comfort is the destruction of all my friends' marriages - I look around and 9 out of 10 are a complete fucking mess."
The subject returns to his frustration with making movies. Even if this current hiatus is short-lived, he says, he does foresee a time in the not too distant future when he'll quit for good. I tell him this strategy will do wonders for his public profile: Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn were never more beloved than when they were retired from film.
"The difference is, they gave up when people adored and revered them," Grant says. "For me, all they'd say is 'Hugh can't get another job.'"
With the interview concluded and goodbyes exchanged, a song instantly pops into my head, written by another Londoner who's been spitted and rotisseried in his time, Elvis Costello. It's one of his more beautiful but less heralded songs, "I Want to Vanish," and it goes like this:
I want to vanish
This is my fondest wish
To go where I cannot be captured
Laid on a decorate dish ...
I want to vanish
This is my last request
I've given you the awful truth
Now give me my rest