Connie Chung has mastered the art of sharing screentime with an egoist, having spent her career working alongside the likes of Dan Rather, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer. It seems, however, that she met her match on the set of The Undoing, where the parodied professional found herself acting opposite a dead-eyed and demeaning Hugh Grant.
As they waited to film, Chung suggested that Grant transform himself from disheveled to dapper ahead of their scene. In an interview with Andrew Goldman for his podcast, "The Originals," Chung explained that at this point she had already managed to draw the ire of Susanne Bier when she came with some edits to her script. Chung had first asked famed scribe David E. Kelly (a.k.a. Mr Michelle Pfeifer) if she could make the questions she asks in the series sound more like her own — which he obliged — but the Oscar-winning Dane shut down her request. Chung got to work memorizing the original script and then found herself opposite Grant and his divine frown.
On the night that her episode finally aired, Chung sat down to watch and found out that her voice was still in the series — but not her face. Worse yet, she could not commiserate with her husband, Maury Pouyvich, because he was asleep.
When asked to guess why she was cut, Chung's response contained both the optimism and matter-of-factness she was known for during her years at NBC, CBS and ABC — plus those few months at MSNBC. "I think that either I look so old and so dreadful that she decided to save me from myself," opined Chung. "Or more likely, I just annoyed her."
Things did not go much better with her scene partner.
"When Hugh Grant sat down, he was looking all rumpled," recalled Chung. "He's one of those British rumpled fellows. And his tie was askew — and I am very OCD — so, I said, 'Hugh, straighten up your tie.' And he goes and fixes it. And then one collar was outside of his suit, and I went, 'Hugh, fix that.' Like in Broadcast News, I thought he should sit on the back of his jacket so that it’s nice and tidy and he doesn’t look like Rodney Dangerfield."
She continued: "I was about to tell Grant about his shirt. And he goes, 'Now what?' And the Danish director gives me an evil eye as if what the hell do you think you’re doing? I’m the director." That moment came back to her when she watched the show and realized she had been cut.
"Maury was so captivated he fell asleep. I didn’t call anybody. I just looked at the TV and thought, 'Oh, I think I pissed her off or something,'" said Chung.
As for Grant, he prepared for the scene by laying in a catatonic state according to Chung, which by that point may have been preferable to the veteran newswoman.
"Well, he was not very friendly! I had interviewed him for his next movie after Four Weddings and a Funeral. So when I saw him on set, I said, 'Oh, hi. I interviewed you right after Four Weddings and a Funeral. Do you remember?' And he said, 'No.' So, I went, 'OK.'"
Chung later said that Grant was far from the worst person she had dealt with over the years. When asked to identify who her most difficult coworker had been, she was a bit resistant, but after some prodding, she coyly remarked: "I'd rather not."
At that exact moment, her husband could be heard in the background urging her to end the interview.