Hugh Laurie — is there anything the man can't do? Perhaps you only know him as Dr. Gregory House, the cantankerous medical genius from House.
But were you aware of what Hugh Laurie has accomplished on a boat or with a guitar in his hand? (We stress "or." As far as we know, Hugh Laurie has not played the blues in a rowboat.)
House certainly had its laughs here and there, but American audiences probably did not realize Laurie's comedic background. To the Brits, Hugh Laurie becoming House would be a bit like Will Ferrell starring on ER. Or perhaps a bit akin to the career of Robin Williams.
Comedy, drama, jazz, rowing — here are his many impressive talents of which you might not have been aware.
Born in Oxford, Laurie got one of the most prestigious educations available to mankind on the planet, attending both Eton College and Cambridge. During his schooling, he participated in rowing. In 1977, he and his partner won the British national title for a junior coxed pair, going on to represent Britain's Youth Team at the Junior World Rowing Championships. Here he is discussing his sporting life on the BBC1 talk show Wogan.
In 1996, eight years before the start of House, Laurie launched his literary career with the witty thriller The Gun Seller. "A genuinely witty and sophisticated entertainment...fresh and winning," Christopher Buckley wrote in The New York Times Book Review.
Laurie is adept at the piano, guitar, drums, harmonica and saxophone. He's put those musical skills to work on a Meat Loaf album (2010's Hang Cool Teddy Bear) as well as his own solo material. In 2011, Laurie released an album of blues for Warner Bros. called Let Them Talk. He branched out a bit into jazz and tango for the follow-up, 2013's Didn't It Rain. Take a listen to "St. James Infirmary."
One half of a legendary comedy duo
In the U.K., Laurie will forever be known as one half of Fry and Laurie, alongside his comedic partner Stephen Fry. For us Yanks, imagine a cross of Laurel and Hardy and Monty Python. From their own sketch series A Bit of Fry & Laurie, the twosome went on to create the series Jeeves and Wooster, based on the novels of P.G. Wodehouse. American audiences would perhaps be most familiar with his comedy performances on Blackadder, the Rowan Atkinson period comedy.
Cartoon voice actor
Laurie has numerous voice-acting credits on his resume, as well. He was Mr. Frederick Little on Stuart Little. A decade earlier, in 1993, he voiced Squire Trelawney in the British cartoon The Legends of Treasure Island.
Image: ITV / FilmFair