"House" star Hugh Laurie shakes up image with new role

Wed Apr 9, 2008 4:47pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hugh Laurie is bleary-eyed and tired. It is late afternoon, and he's been awake since 5 a.m. shooting an episode of television drama "House M.D.," which has made him a huge star in the United States.

His lead role as the cranky, brash Dr. Gregory House on the top-rated Fox hospital show is far from the comic parts that first made the versatile British actor popular back home, and Laurie is again shaking up his image as a Los Angeles cop in "Street Kings," a movie opening in major cities on Friday.

Laurie, 48, is weary at the end of his long day. But after a quick "gasper," or cigarette, and cup of tea, he said he was glad to be working again following the long U.S. screenwriters' strike that halted production of his TV show.

When asked whether taking the role in "Street Kings" could be a clever career shift by a big-name star, Laurie counters that he does not see the film role that way, nor does he consider himself a big name in Hollywood.

"I hate to shatter any illusions about my place in the pecking order but very few actors, apart from Denzel Washington, get to choose from a big supermarket shelf of possibilities," Laurie said.

"The rest of us are trying to find things we can do, and I hadn't set out to find a noirish police thriller."

Laurie said he was "secretly amused that a middle-class English boy from Oxford could end up playing a veteran L.A.P.D. detective. I even get to carry a gun in a Hollywood movie -- every young boy's dream."


<p>Actor Hugh Laurie holds his award for best male actor in drama series for his role in television show "House" at the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 28, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>