Sex symbol of the 1990s Elizabeth Hurley is also the mother of a teenage son, Damian. Now, you may not know, but they’ve been through quite a lot together. And for Christmas 2019, the pair posted a sweet photograph of them standing side by side. Strikingly, even though they obviously share genes, people were still amazed by just how much they looked alike.
Interestingly, Hurley’s life has always been a fascinating one. For she was born the second daughter of a junior school teacher and an army major, growing up in Hampshire, England. And when she became a teenager she started to rebel. Indeed, she dyed her hair, got piercings in her face, and, surprisingly, ended up being expelled from theatre school.
As Hurley went on to explain in 2019 to Hampshire Life magazine, “I used to hang out with the local punks. They were a mixed crowd…we were banned from most of the pubs in the area, mostly because of the way we looked. How we looked was quite deliberate though. I found that many men took an interest in me and… it got on my nerves so I made myself look as awful as possible.”
Hurley continued, “I was sensible at heart but my rebellion was an outer show and it did take me some time to come out of it. I went on holiday once and forgot to tell the school. When I went back I had to go and see the principal and she basically told me that I was no longer welcome. I didn’t resist it, I just took the opportunity to change my life and moved to London.”
In London, Hurley decided it was time to drop the punk rebellion. She explained to Hampshire Life, “I recognised that it was time to change. So, I did. My Mum was very happy about that and probably, I was too really.” Instead, she started working on making it in the entertainment industry. Eventually, she began getting roles.
But the model was far from famous when, in 1987, she met the man who would change her entire life. This was, of course, British actor Hugh Grant. And he was just years from mega-stardom when he and Hurley met on the set of Spanish film Remando Al Viento. As you can imagine, sparks flew.
As the pair tried to make it in the difficult world of Hollywood, they grew ever closer. Much later, Grant would tell People’s The Jess Cagle Interview that he and Hurley, “went from zero to somewhere together” and “went through terrible years at the beginning when neither of us had any work, living in a tiny flat.”
Soon Grant began to get more work – throughout the early 1990s he appeared in The Big Man, Bitter Moon, The Remains of the Day and more. But then came 1994’s Four Weddings and a Funeral. And the film helped make both him and Hurley major stars of the era.
However, it wasn’t any sort of actual appearance in Four Weddings and a Funeral which made Hurley famous. No, it was what she wore to the premiere of the movie. You see, she donned a black Versace dress held together by golden safety pins, and the world immediately took notice.
Yes, people were shocked and awed by the dress, which was very revealing. And they wanted to know everything about the young woman wearing it. Virtually overnight, Hurley became one of the most talked-about people in Hollywood. Also, she took Versace with her on her ride to fame, helping make the fashion designer extremely popular for the creation. But how she actually got hold of “that dress” might surprise you.
Indeed, in March 2019 Hurley reminisced to the magazine Harper’s Bazaar about the garment. She said, “I was so unprepared for what happened that night. I urgently needed to find a dress to wear for Hugh’s premiere, and in those days I had no idea about fashion.” In fact, most designers turned her down as she simply wasn’t famous enough.
Eventually, the team at Versace agreed to lend the unknown actress a dress for the night. And it was the last one they had. Hurley remembered, “I remember going to an office where they literally fished a dress out of a white plastic bag. I took it home and did my own hair and makeup, fighting Hugh for the mirror, which wasn’t even full-length, in our tiny one-bedroom flat.”
But, of course, it all worked out better than anyone would have imagined. Hurley became famous. And the following year, in 1995, she would make even more headlines – but for a very different reason. For you see, she became a talking point in relation to a celebrity scandal. Yes, Grant, shockingly, was caught receiving services from a prostitute in California.
Now, this meant that he was cheating on Hurley. Obviously plenty of damage had already been done, but Grant attempted to publicly apologize. Appearing on The Tonight Show to face the music, he said, “I’ve done an abominable thing, and she’s [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.”
And, rather surprisingly, they did indeed manage to work it out, for a while at least. As Hurley starred in more and more films, including My Favorite Martian, EDtv, Bedazzled and the Austin Powers series, she remained Grant’s girlfriend. Or she did until the year 2000 at least.
For that year, Hurley split up with her famous boyfriend. But it seemed not to be a result of Grant’s much-publicized affair. Instead, it appeared that things had simply run their course. A statement from their publicist stressed that “there are no third parties involved” and that “it is a mutual and amicable decision.”
Weirdly, the statement also claimed that the split was temporary, but it wasn’t. Yes, sadly one of the biggest celebrity relationships of the time was very much over. Yet the part of the statement which referred to it all being “amicable” was correct. Despite the romance being over, the bond between Hurley and Grant lived on, as we’ll later find out.
Still, Hurley broke her silence about the split to Talk magazine in June 2000. Splitting up with Grant, she said, was akin to “amputating my left arm.” But she didn’t think they would ever get back together. She explained, “Ultimately we realised that there had to be something lacking, because after 13 years together we still didn’t really want to get married and start a family.”
Soon though, the actress embarked on a new relationship. Yes, in late 2000, she was seen at a Madison Square Garden Elton John concert kissing millionaire producer Steve Bing. And then in November of the following year the actress announced that she was pregnant. Bing was apparently the father – except he was having none of it.
For you see, in December 2001 Bing released a statement to the media regarding the paternity of the child. And he claimed that the relationship with Hurley wasn’t “exclusive,” meaning that another man could possibly be the father. It was, he said, the actress’s “choice to be a single mother.”
Furthermore, Bing claimed in his statement that if the child did transpire to be his, he would be an “extremely involved and responsible parent.” But things got ugly fast. Later that month, a member of Bing’s legal team reportedly told the Sunday Sport that they were “prepared to do whatever it takes to establish whether the child is his or not.”
The source added that, “If it is his, we will fight her over the amount of paternity payments and the access he’ll get to his child.” By the following month, Bing had become somewhat of a hate figure in the British media. Specifically, the Daily Mirror dubbed him “Bing Laden” and encouraged readers to call him after publishing his phone number. Later, the newspaper retracted the slur and apologized in exchange for Bing not suing.
Then, in April 2002, Hurley gave birth to a boy, Damian Charles. And intriguingly his godfather was none other than Hugh Grant. But mere weeks after Damian entered the world, Bing launched High Court proceedings to determine if he was the father. As a result, he went to London in May to take a DNA test.
And by June 2002 the results of the DNA test were in. Crucially, they proved that Bing was indeed Damian’s father. The news was naturally widely reported, but Hurley herself was keeping a low profile at the time. Furthermore, a spokesperson announced at the High Court that both teams would be “adhering to the request of the court that there be no further publicity in the interest of the child.”
Moving forward then, and in 2007 Hurley married textile heir and computer businessman Arun Nayar, whom she had been dating since 2002. Now, this gave Damian a stepfather, and the whole family moved to a large organic farm in Gloucestershire. Apparently, the young boy grew up surrounded by animals, including 82 pigs.
But unfortunately the relationship between Hurley and Nayar didn’t last. And in April 2011 Hurley filed for a divorce, giving “unreasonable behavior” as the reason. In fact, the divorce went through in June, and just three months later Hurley got engaged to Australian cricketer Shane Warne. But the marriage never went ahead, and they broke up in 2013.
Throughout all the personal turmoil, though, Hurley continued to act. After fading from the spotlight a little in the mid 2000s, she began to bounce back with TV roles. Yes, from 2011 to 2012, she played the recurring role of Diana Payne in Gossip Girl. After that, in 2015, she started portraying the main character of Queen Helena in primetime show The Royals.
As Damian grew up, he began following in his mother’s footsteps and embracing the celebrity world. At the age of just 13, he began modelling for the brand Pink House Mystique. And not long after, in 2014, he played Prince Hansel von Liechtenstein in his mother’s TV show The Royals. In the background, though, trouble was brewing.
You see, young Damian faced disquiet with his biological father’s family. In 2019 Dr.Peter Bing, the teen’s grandfather, tried to cut Damian out of his will. But in July of that year, a Los Angeles judge ruled that Damian would indeed receive a large slice of the inheritance.
So Damian was already making the headlines as a V.I.P. to some extent. But on Christmas Day of 2019 he suddenly cranked up his fame – simply by posting a selfie with his mother. And the snap of him and Hurley standing side by side, wearing similar outfits and also similar expressions, caused a stir.
Yes, people were awestruck at the resemblance between mother and son, and said so in the comments. One person wrote, “Merry Christmas. You look like beautiful twins.” Another said, “Those mom genes are damn strong! Funny how it’s sons that look like mothers, and daughters that look like fathers.”
Now, Hurley has reiterated in interviews that she’ll support Damian if he wants to try and become mega-famous like her. But in 2017 she told People magazine, “If he wants to be — and if he were talented enough and lucky enough to be a movie star, how nice that would be. But to me that’s the icing on the cake after you [become] a fully-rounded person.”
Then in September 2018 Hurley chatted to you magazine about her relationship with her son. She said, “I rather think I’ve simply been blessed with a child whose personality gels with mine. Friends who have several children always admit, although they love them all equally, inevitably there’s one whose personality mirrors their own and they ‘get’ each other better.”
What’s more, Hurley also spoke about Damian joining her on The Royals. She explained, “I took off the first eight years of his life from acting so I could be at home with Damian but it transpires that being on set is where he’s happiest. He loves reading scripts, running through everyone’s lines and soaking it all up.”
And Damian too was interviewed by you, and he had fond memories of spending time on sets with his mother. He remembered, “I was even younger when my mother first went back to work and did a season of Gossip Girl in New York. The director used to let me shout ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’”
Furthermore, Hurley explained that she considered Nayar, not Bing, to be Damian’s real father. The actress said, “Arun is Damian’s daddy and a very good one too, they see each other a lot.” And she had remained friends with Nayar just as she had with Grant, and they still all went on holiday together. Confused? Well, it is Hollywood after all.
And Hurley reflected on Damian’s upbringing to you magazine further, saying, “I wanted to bring up a really nice boy, and he is self-reliant and confident around adults but he can’t cook properly yet which is a major failing on my part. I hate boys who can’t even rustle up lamb chops with mashed potato, so it’s the next thing we need to tackle. I think we’ll start with an omelette. I love my son completely but I do realise I can only prepare him for life, I can’t control the world.”
Then she went on regarding her own parenting skills, “Of course I find myself saying exactly the things my mother said to me, about picking up my clothes or bringing my plate over to the sink. But we’ve got each other’s backs, always. We’ve never had a horrible fight, we’re never rude to each other and I’ve always encouraged him to speak up when something is annoying or upsetting him.”
And such was the similarity between the middle-aged actress and her teenage son that they actually shared clothes sometimes. Yes, she cheerfully informed the magazine, “I tend to wear Damian’s cast-offs. His 14-15-year-old trackie bottoms fit me perfectly.” Well, fair enough.
So, there are clearly some pretty good things ahead for Damian. The androgynous young model has a good life, a supportive mother – and, on the professional side of things, he also has more than 63,000 followers on Instagram. If he continues to pose alongside his mom, that number is sure to rise.