Elizabeth Hurley

Active - 1987 - 2020  |   Born - Jun 10, 1965 in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Science & Technology, Culture & Society

Share on

Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

Considered to be one of the world's most famous arm ornaments, model, and sometimes-actress, Elizabeth Hurley first became the topic of gossip sheets when she appeared on the arm of boyfriend Hugh Grant at the premiere for his Four Weddings and a Funeral in 1994. Scantily clad in a Versace gown held up by safety pins, audacity, and little else, Hurley was soon attracting as much press coverage as Grant, and a career as one of the most photographed women of the 1990s was born.

Hurley, who was born in Basingstoke, England, on June 10, 1965, originally wanted to be a dancer. Her interest in dancing soon gave way to acting pursuits, and following studies in dance and theater at the London Studio Centre, she began going on casting calls. The aspiring actress found work in a number of forgettable films and TV miniseries, and it was while working on a film set that she met fellow actor Hugh Grant. Although she first became recognizable due to activities associated with Grant's onscreen work, it was her boyfriend's dubious offscreen exploits that really put Hurley in the spotlight. Thanks to Grant's notorious dalliance with a prostitute by the name of Divine Brown, Hurley was thrust into the public eye with little room to hide. Further complicating the situation was her work as the spokesmodel for Estee Lauder at the time, a position that both heightened her fame and compounded the problems associated with Grant's infamous behavior.

After the ruckus surrounding the Brown scandal died down, Hurley began earning more recognition for her work in Hollywood, both as a producer (she and Grant founded the production company Simian Films in 1994) and an actress. Perhaps her most famous role to date has been as Vanessa Kensington, sidekick and eventual paramour of Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). She reprised the role for the film's 1999 sequel, although her character was killed off only minutes into the movie. Hurley has also appeared in such films as Permanent Midnight (1998), in which she played the wife of a heroin addict; and EdTV (1999), which featured her as a model who provides heady temptation for the film's titular protagonist (Matthew McConaughey). Hurley would play a temptress of a different sort -- a busty, female version of Satan -- in 2000's Bedazzled with Brendan Fraser. In 2001, Hurley took part in the four part documentary The Human Face, which was narrated by fellow Briton John Cleese, and later starred as a beautiful doctor in Double Whammy with Steve Buscemi and Dennis Leary. Hurley met up with Leary once again for Dawg, the follow-up to Double Whammy (2002). Unfortunately for Hurley, most of the notoriety the young actress gained during 2002 was, once again, of the tabloid variety -- a heated paternity battle with former boyfriend Steve Bing made more headlines than Dawg or Serving Sara. In 2004, Hurley starred alongside Jermey Sisto in Duncan Roy's thriller Method, and joined actress Jennifer Tilly in the showbiz comedy Made in Romania. Her acting career slowed after that, though she did have a season-long guest arc on the last season of Gossip Girl.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Father Roy was an Army Major, which required the family to move frequently; mother Angela was a music teacher.
  • First Hollywood film role came in 1992 with the Wesley Snipes action-thriller Passenger 57.
  • Caused a stir at the red-carpet premiere for the 1994 romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, where she wore a very revealing Versace safety-pin dress.
  • Ran a production company, Simian Films, with Hugh Grant from 1994 to 2006.
  • Won the NATO/ShoWest Supporting Actress of the Year Award for the hit 1997 spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
  • Launched an Estée Lauder cosmetic line, Elizabeth Pink, with proceeds going to breast-cancer research.
  • Launched a beachwear line in 2005.
  • Elton John and former boyfriend Hugh Grant are among the godparents for her son, Damien.
  • Owns a 400-acre organic farm in Gloucestershire.