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Hugh Laurie Makes a House Call

The actor plays the ornery Dr. Gregory House on TV but says he respects physicians -- especially his well-mannered doctor dad.
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Low Boredom Threshold continued...

In addition to being a physician, Laurie's father won an Olympic medal for rowing in 1948. Laurie did follow in his dad's footsteps for a while. "I never found it to be that pleasant an occupation unless you're competing at the highest possible level," he says. "It's all or nothing." He rowed while attending Eton, was a member of the England Youth Team in 1977, and competed in several prestigious races.

Being the son of an outstanding oarsman, "there was pressure, but it was self-imposed," he says. "[My father] certainly never pushed me toward it or goaded me to competitiveness. He was good at [rowing], and I wanted to emulate him in all sorts of ways. Of course I failed him in all sorts of ways -- athleticism being one of them."

Laurie tries to instill a love of sport in his own sons, Charlie and Bill, and his daughter, Rebecca. "I try and console my children when they have not been successful, and I am thrilled when they are," he says. "They have no competitive ethos in them." Laurie is, however, a vocal supporter from the sidelines when his son is playing rugby. "But I have never gotten to a point where I have threatened a referee."

A motorcycle enthusiast, Laurie says he's "been riding with my kids on the grass since they were young. Motorcycling is a delight, and if they ever do it on the road, I would obviously want them to have as much experience as possible."

Easy to Quit

There are a few of his habits he does not want his offspring to emulate -- like smoking. "I keep meaning to stop," he says. "Who doesn't?"

The problem? Quitting is too easy. "I found stopping to be not that hard, which made it hard," he says. Offering up a House-like rationale, Laurie adds, "Quitting is not so bad, so I can do it anytime and there is less incentive to stick with it."

It's more than likely a colleague would call House on this, saying, "I think your argument is specious." And House, with his trademark charm, would no doubt reply: "Yeah? Well, I think your tie is ugly."

Published January 2007.

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Reviewed on December 18, 2006

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