NEW YORK (Reuters) - British actor Hugh Grant may be one of the most successful actors of his generation, but the star of the new film "The Rewrite" says he has always been attracted to the comedy of failure.
Grant, 54, plays Keith Michaels, a divorced Hollywood screenwriter facing hard times who finds romance and new meaning in life when he takes a college teaching job to avoid bankruptcy.
"It is a story of one man's surprise salvation," Grant told Reuters.
The theme of the film, which opens in select U.S. theaters on Friday, was an important one for the "Notting Hill" actor who is the father of three children. He feels it is important to do things that give you self respect.
"He's lost his mojo and self confidence," Grant said about his character, "and he finds there are metrics on which to base your self-worth other than money and your position on the Hollywood ladder. In this case it is the gratitude and devotion of his students."
"The Rewrite" reunites Grant with director/screenwriter Marc Lawrence for their fourth film together. It also marks a return to acting for Grant, who has been working for Hacked Off, an organization that raises awareness about victims of press abuse following the newspaper phone hacking scandal in England, in which he was a target.
"I needed a break from politics. That's my whole life now," he explained. "I thought it would be nice to disappear for eight weeks and make a film."
Grant heads an all-star cast including Marisa Tomei - who won a best supporting actress Oscar for "My Cousin Vinny" - as a single mother and college student who falls for her handsome professor.
J.K. Simmons, the front runner for this year's best supporting actor Academy Award for his role as an abusive music teacher in "Whiplash," is the head of the college's English department.
Grant was drawn to the part, he said, because he finds the comedy of failure rich ground for characters.
"It is quite touching - people in a bad place in their life who then handle it well and then their life gets better."
Although he has been happy working with Hacked Off and plans to continue with the group, he said it is always nice to go back to his old day job, acting.
"This was fun to do," he said about "The Rewrite," "and I am doing it again in May (in a film) with Meryl Streep."
Editing by Jill Serjeant and W Simon