Liz Hurley bares all… about fianc Shane Warne's startling new look, her feelings for Hugh Grant – and why she shares her life with both of themIn her most revealing interview yet, Elizabeth Hurley reveals she isn’t behind Shane Warne's new look, and why their passion for each other will never stop her loving Hugh Grant
21:31 GMT, 18 May 2012
Elizabeth Hurley is in a spin. She’s running ten minutes late and hates to keep people waiting. She doesn’t much like to be kept hanging around herself. Elizabeth is a doer, a get-up-and-goer.
It’s one of the reasons her four-year marriage to the more laid-back Indian textile heir Arun Nayar failed. Well, that and meeting her fianc, Australian cricketer Shane Warne, at Glorious Goodwood two years ago.
‘I wasn’t looking for anyone romantically,’ says Elizabeth. ‘We met at a lunch and stayed in touch. I hadn’t separated from Arun. We knew we had our differences and I’m not sure we were making each other happy, but we still had a great friendship.
Laid bare: Liz Hurley decided to strip off 'on a whim' for her photoshoot for Weekend Magazine
'I think we both had a sense our paths were going in different directions but we hadn’t said it out loud. I like people to match my energy. If I’m with someone who’s much more laid-back, it doesn’t tend to work very well. I’m more, “Come on, let’s go”. I like racing around. I don’t think Arun and I were the right people. It was the same with Hugh.’
She means, of course, Hugh Grant, her boyfriend for 13 years. Recently, Elizabeth became godmother to his daughter Jingxi, meaning ‘pleasantly surprised’, which Hugh says he was following a fleeting affair with the child’s mother, Chinese beauty Tinglan Hong. ‘Hugh’s exactly the same, even though he has a baby. I don’t think he’ll ever change,’ she says. ‘I don’t think either of us can imagine not having the other in our lives.’
So much so that Hugh used to go on holiday with Arun, Elizabeth and her ten-year-old son Damian and had his own bedroom in their Cotswolds home. Isn’t that a bit weird ‘Hugh is family,’ she says. ‘I worship my brother Michael, but I know Hugh a lot better than him now. It’s romantic in a way, without being sexual.’
Which brings us to the reason she’s late. ‘I parked Shane’s brand new Jaguar in Hugh’s garage last night. I had to edge out of the garage very, very slowly so I didn’t scrape it,’ she says. ‘Hugh’s garage is down this alleyway. There was this huge lorry so I had to back up and go round the other way. I’m not that careful with cars.’
'Not just a passing flight of fancy': With fiance Shane Warne, who she met two years ago
That doesn’t surprise me. What does, though, is that Shane doesn’t strike me as the sort of bloke who’d be happy with her parking his car in any man’s garage. Is he bothered by her intimacy with Hugh
‘It’s hard for six months to compete with 20 years on a friendship level, and that can only come over time,’ she says. ‘Shane and Hugh get on very well and that’s very important for me. I think there’s zero jealousy about something that was 12 years ago [Hugh and Elizabeth broke up in 2000]. Sometimes we all feel threatened by past friendships.’
'Shane and Hugh get on very well and that’s very important for me. I think there's zero jealousy about something that was 12 years ago'
So is it the Hurley way or the highway as far as the men in her life go ‘It’s very hard to get the dynamics where two people can stimulate each other and be happy,’ she says. ‘I’m manic about my schedule. I like mapping everything out. I like to know what we’re doing at half term and at Christmas. I’d drive someone demented if they’re not like that. Shane’s the same. We have different eating habits but there’s not much more than that.’
Hang on. Haven’t the Big Blond’s mates (her nickname for him) complained he’s a changed man in Elizabeth’s hands Made over Made up ‘That’s rubbish,’ she insists. What about those whiter-than-Persil-white outfits in their recent 19-page Hello! magazine hoopla ‘The stylist bought those,’ she says. ‘I haven’t been shopping with him, ever. Shane’s thinner but that’s nothing to do with me.’
OK, does he wax or shave his legs She giggles. ‘I’ll leave him to answer that, but very few international sportsmen have body hair. They have very deep tissue massages after games and apparently it hurts. If you look at almost any footballer or tennis player, not many are hairy.’
Now, in her words, ‘middle-aged’, Elizabeth seems truly comfortable in her dewy skin. So much so that during this photoshoot for Weekend Magazine she decided, on a whim, to strip off completely – bra, knickers, the lot. And, before you can say ‘pleasantly surprised’ in English or Chinese, she’s sprawled stark naked on a king-size bed. Even the woman behind the lens – a seasoned fashion photographer – was taken aback.
Today she’s fully clothed when we meet, a flurry of glossy vowels and hair. Elizabeth, 47, has been the face of Este Lauder for 18 years so has to ‘make an effort to keep my contract’ and, yes, has had Botox ‘once or twice’, but mostly her looks are down to good genes.
Former flames: In that dress with Hugh Grant, left, and with ex-husband Arun Nayar
She’s here to promote a range of rather lovely bed linen she’s designed, which she’s modelling with in our photos. ‘I’ve always collected textiles from all round the world. I love designing bed linen that’s exotic, with Moroccan and Indian influences. I love bedrooms. I like to snuggle up with Shane and watch movies there.’
Very soon I find myself warming to Elizabeth. She’s often dismissed as the girl who got lucky with the right dress and the right boyfriend. Remember that safety-pin Versace number when Hugh Grant was at the height of his fame with Four Weddings And A Funeral 18 years ago
In fact, Elizabeth is a grafter from a modest middle-class background who rolled up her sleeves and built a sizeable business empire – including a beachwear line and an organic food company – that pays for a farm in the Cotswolds, a house in London and a private education for son Damian.
She says Shane, who lives with her on the farm, shares her work ethic. ‘We both know neither of us is going to inherit anything from anyone else,’ she says.
‘We’re both from similar backgrounds with loving parents and not much money. We’ve both lived out of suitcases for 20 years, both been breadwinners for 20 years. Everything we have we’ve made ourselves.
‘He’s a kindred spirit, and there’s something about recognising a kindred spirit that’s like going home and getting into a warm bath. Hugh and I have that too. We started out together in a tiny little flat and built everything up together. That’s something no one can ever take away from you, those rites of passage.’
Elizabeth was just 21 and a struggling actress when she met Hugh on a film set in 1987. The middle of three children brought up in Basingstoke, Hampshire, in an army family, she set her sights on a career in showbusiness from a young age and had appeared in a number of largely forgettable films until making an impression with that dress. A year later, Hugh made an even bigger impression with a hooker on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.
Home comforts: The actress has designed her own range of bed linen. 'I love bedrooms. I like to snuggle up with Shane and watch movies there, she said
‘A lot of people have very different relationships,’ she says. ‘They’re not all as cookie-cutter as you read about in women’s magazines. We had private things that were private and still remain private. I think between the two of us [after Hugh’s arrest] we were actually fine, but of course you don’t like everybody knowing your business.
'Of course you feel embarrassed and hate being talked about and hate people drawing their own opinions of something. I’m not of the school that thinks, “I’d better put that straight”. So you have to put up with people making inferences and develop a thick skin towards people you don’t give a hoot about.’
Still, you’d need the hide of a rhino not to be hurt by the man you love being caught with his trousers down.
‘I’m sure it was hard but soon after that my dad died. When you have something so enormous as losing someone you love, other things don’t seem so important any more. You take a bigger view of what matters. My German Shepherd died just before my dad. Obviously, they’re not comparable, but they were two terrible losses in the same month. I think ever since then, I’ve distanced myself a little from things that aren’t as mind-blowing as never seeing someone again.’
'I didn’t intend to get pregnant but my son was the greatest gift from God. What a blessing accidents are'
Elizabeth’s father died from a heart attack aged 67 while staying with her and Hugh in Paris. She says it’s shared experiences like this that bind her to Hugh. ‘I was very close to Dad,’ she says. ‘Once he’d had his heart attack he never regained consciousness. Hugh was very supportive. We still are extremely supportive of one another. If Hugh died, I don’t think I’d be any less affected whether I was with him or separated from him.’
Elizabeth is so overwhelmed by the thought of life without Hugh that she begins to cry. Crikey, I’m beginning to wonder why on earth they separated.
‘I think sometimes you run out of steam. I can see now that we’d been together for 13 years, and if you haven’t got married and had children by then, you lose momentum. You have to evolve in a relationship. After that amount of time it’s not that exciting to get married. We’d had a house together for years. We’d done all that. Plus we were travelling a lot. We split up in 2000. An awful lot’s happened in the past 12 years.’
It certainly has. There’s been a child, a marriage, a divorce and an engagement. She refers to Damian’s father, billionaire businessman Steve Bing, as ‘Damian’s biological father’.
‘I didn’t intend to get pregnant but he was the greatest gift from God. What a blessing accidents are. I was 36 when I had Damian. You never know how life would have gone. I could have met someone and had six children. Though it was a traumatic time [Bing would not accept he was the father, claiming they had a brief, non-exclusive relationship, until a DNA test confirmed Damian was his], I felt thrilled I was going to have a son. I wrestled it out of the consultant at the scan.
Changed man: But Liz insists Shane's slimmed down and more sophisticated look, left, is nothing to do with her
‘So, in spite of all the trauma and difficulty I was just overwhelmed by love. Hugh was filming Two Weeks Notice when I had Damian. I lived in his house for the last two weeks of my pregnancy because mine was being decorated and he lives two houses away. After I had Damian I went to Elton John and David Furnish’s house in the country to convalesce – they’re his godfathers. He was adorable from day one.’
Does he see his biological father Elizabeth shakes her head. ‘I was lucky I met Arun when Damian was eight months old so, to all intents and purposes, Damian has always had a daddy because he always had Arun. They’re still very close now. Arun has him for a week in the holidays and I go out of my way to let them spend as much time together as possible, so Damian’s never lacked a father figure. Arun loves his time with Damian and Damian loves his time with Arun.’
Elizabeth married Arun in March 2007 in a lavish bash at Sudeley Castle near Cheltenham, where Elton gave her away, with a second traditional Hindu ceremony in India. They settled down on the farm in Gloucestershire Elizabeth bought in 2003 and began to try for a baby brother or sister for Damian. ‘It’s what I always thought I wanted. It’s funny. All those years, I suppose, of reading Country Living.
Happy extended family: Liz with her son Damian, second from left, and Shane Warne's children Brooke, Summer, far left, and Jackson
‘Our life when Damian was at day school [he now boards and comes home some weekends] in the country wasn’t the Waltons. It was getting up at 6.30am, being in a car at 7.25am on black ice in pitch darkness, getting home at 6pm, doing homework, supper and rushing him to bed. There wasn’t any wonderful time. It wasn’t very nice for either of us. That’s the most tied-down I’ve been. We’d have liked to have another one but it didn’t happen, sadly. Now I feel very content with my one – and I have an extra three.’
She means Shane’s three children, Brooke, 14, Jackson, 12, and ten-year-old Summer. They call her M2 (Mummy 2) and Elizabeth says they’re ‘enchanting’.
Her relationship with their father was revealed on Twitter in December 2010 and they got engaged in September last year, three months after her quickie divorce from Arun. Elizabeth is clearly besotted with Shane. On the face of it, though, it seems an unlikely union. Could it be more about lust than love ‘Definitely not,’ she says.
‘It’s a bit different when you’re in your forties with families and responsibilities. It was very important to us to get formally engaged because of the children. It was important for Damian’s relationship with Shane, and his children’s with me, that they knew it wasn’t just a passing flight of fancy for us. It gives them a little more stability, understanding we have every intention of getting married and setting up home together.’
The question remains, will there be a bedroom for Hugh in Mrs Shane Warne’s home
Elizabeth Hurley will be in the Home Department of House of Fraser, Westfield London, at 1pm on Wednesday to launch her Elizabeth Hurley Home Collection.