Hugh Laurie, the Golden Globe-winning TV doctor, has a number of secret lives: back in Britain, he’s known as one of the country’s greatest comedians of the past twenty years, partners with funnyman Stephen Fry on a number of legendary shows like “Blackadder” and “A Bit of Fry & Laurie.” He’s also an accomplished musician and a lifelong fan of the blues, so much so that he will debut a full New Orleans-set concert film on PBS in September.
Laurie promoted the film, called “Great Performances: Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk — A Celebration of New Orleans Blues,” on Saturday at a TCA event in Los Angeles. He also recorded an album, titled, “Let Them Talk,” which was released in England in May and will hit US record stores shortly. Approached by a British Warner Bros. Records executive about recording the debut, he nearly declined the offer.
“He said, ‘Do you want to make a record?'” Laurie told the audience of TV critics . “I could feel the word ‘No’ rising up in me. I was about to say, ‘Are you out of your mind? I would be killed to try that. That way madness lies.’ When the word got to about here , I put the brakes on and thought, ‘This is not going to come my way again, certainly not in this form.’ This was a diem I had to carpe.”
Tom Jones, among others, features on the record, for which he went on an eight date tour earlier in the year.
“There I was sharing a room with my heroes. Tom Jones for half a century has been one of the most famous singers in the world,” Laurie said at the event . “And who the hell do I think I am sharing a room with him, sharing a studio with him? But they were… incredibly generous. I’m sure there were times where they were behind my back rolling their eyes. But if they did, they did not show it. They could not have been more generous.”
Asked whether he could leave acting for music, he didn’t give a direct answer, but even his deferment was telling.
“This whole experience has been really closer to who I am than many things I have done, I suppose because the subject was so dear to my heart,” he said . “It was very unplanned. It was a genuine journey of discovery.”