Pop Culture | Celebrities | 90s

An Evening Stroll Down The Sunset Strip Almost Destroyed Hugh Grant's Career

Up until 1995, life had been good for Hugh Grant. The 34-year-old British actor recently got his shot at stardom for his role in the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral, he was dating supermodel Elizabeth Hurley, and was out promoting his latest flick, Nine Months, in Hollywood.

Then everything came crashing down.

On the evening of June 26, 1995, Grant had been caught in a sexual act with a prostitute. He had been strolling down LA’s notorious "Sunset Strip," and met Estella Marie Thompson, who went by the name Divine Brown. He had paid her $50 to perform oral sex on him in public, but the pair were discovered by undercover police officers.

Grand and Brown had been caught in the act and were promptly charged with “lewd conduct in a public place.”

The Guardian

It wasn’t long until media outlets got wind of Grant’s scandal, and he and his PR team were immediately forced to do damage control.

“Last night I did something completely insane,” Grant said in a statement released the next day. “I have hurt people I love and embarrassed people I work with. For both things I am more sorry than I can ever possibly say.”

But then the prostitute, Divine Brown, came forward to tell her side of the story.

Tabloids from across the Atlantic had a field day with Grant’s fall from grace, but they also duked it out to interview Brown, in order to be the first to publish her side of the story.

In the end, News of the World scored the coveted tell-all, by paying her a rumored $100,000. Among the intimate details, Brown said Grant reportedly told her, “I always wanted to sleep with a black woman. That’s my fantasy.”

News of the World

The following month, Grant was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, attend an AIDS awareness class and sentenced to two years of probation. Conversely, Brown was sentenced to 180 days in prison and fined $1,350 after pleading no contest. She had already been on probation due to previous prostitution charges.

Grant went on a mass “apology tour,” begging for the public’s forgiveness on late-night television, beginning with an appearance on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

“I’ve done an abominable thing, and she’s [Liz Hurley] been amazing about it, and contrary to what I read in the paper today, she’s been very supportive, and we’re going to try to work it out,” he said during the interview.

Since then, Hollywood seemed to forget about Grant’s high-profile scandal, and he was able to revive his shattered career. He starred in a series of successful movies, including Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary, About a Boy, and Love Actually. The well-known playboy has become a father of four, and is still friends with his ex-girlfriend, Hurley.

But he wasn’t the only one who’s done well for himself.

In 2010, Daily Mail interviewed Brown - who reverted back to her given name, Stella Thompson - to see what her life had been like since the sensationalized ordeal.

The mother of three said she prefers to remember the infamous incident as “God’s work” that’s brought her to where she is now.

She has moved away from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia where she had wisely invested a portion of the $1 million she had made from multiple interviews and appearances.  

Thompson’s  two oldest children are in college, she has long since quit prostitution, and runs a music production company with her fiancé Richie Fediccinni. She said her life couldn’t get any better.

“I have the most wonderful life now,’ she said. “I’ve got a nice new home with three bedrooms and four bathrooms. It’s very pretty and I have a beautiful garden with flowers. There’s no pool, but I do have a picket fence. I thank the Lord every day.”

Sources: The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Mail,