Hugh Grant 1, Tabloids 0

Movie Talk
Hugh Grant Dominique Charriau
Hugh Grant Dominique Charriau

Don't mess with Hugh Grant.

Between 2004 and 2006, the actor (along with many other celebrities including actress Sienna Miller) had his voicemail hacked by British tabloid News of the World. At last, Grant had his sweet revenge when he secretly recorded a former reporter from the tabloid and published the juicy excerpts at a rival publication.

NPR explains how it all went down. The News of the World recently apologized for the hacking activity which it was alleged was used to gather private info on celebrities for use in the publication. Apparently that apology wasn't enough for Grant. The actor taped a conversation with former reporter Paul McMullan in which the reporter contradicts the paper's former top editor Andrew Coulson.

Coulson, who would later serve as British Prime Minister David Cameron's communications director, claimed to have not condoned the practice of illegal phone hacking. However, "in the tape that Grant secretly recorded, McMullan contradicts him, saying Coulson regularly ordered phone spying." Uh, oh.

At one point, McMullan remarks that if Grant doesn't like being targeted by paparazzi, he should "get off the stage" (stop acting) and he'll stop being bothered. News of Grant's dalliance with espionage has inspired a slew of web searches. Over the past 24 hours, online lookups for "hugh grant" have more than tripled. Related searches on "hugh grant new statesman," "hugh grant phone hack," and "hugh grant bugged" have also posted impressive spikes.

Grant, though outraged at the breach in privacy, has maintained his sense of humor, as well as his acting ability. At one point the journalist asks him if he's taping the conversation. Grant replied with a deadpan "No" in (and these are his words) a "slightly shrill voice." Grant also titled his tell-all article from Tuesday, April 12: "The bugger, bugged."

You can read some highlights here. The story is far from over. It has been widely reported that more celebrities are considering legal action following the tabloid's apology.