celebrity

Liz Hurley made headlines everywhere for one dress. Her life has been complicated ever since.

You'd be hard pressed to find a tabloid or paper that doesn't have Liz Hurley's face splashed across it. 

The actor and model became an A-lister years ago, and not necessarily for her work on screen, but more due to the vested interest the public seem to have for her personal life. 

While she has had a string of very public relationships and a turbulent life in the spotlight, the actor maintains she is deliriously "happy" with her life and son, Damian. 

Considering her iconic rise to fame, and how she has kept it after 20 years in the spotlight, we decided to take a look back at her life and career.

Elizabeth Hurley's childhood and rise to fame. 

Hurley was born in Basingstoke, England on June 10, 1965. She has two siblings, a brother Michael and a sister Kate. 

Liz Hurley with her brother, Michael Hurley. Image: Twitter @elizabethhurley

According to her sister Kate - who she still is close to this day -  Hurley was a ''determined attention-seeker'' who would have ''outrageous tantrums'' if she was ignored as a child. Some would say, this made her a perfect candidate for fame.

While both siblings keep relatively out of the spotlight, Hurley knew she wanted to be in the public eye from the age of 12 when she decided to be a dancer. 

While she attended a private boarding school which specialised in ballet, and earned a scholarship to study dance, she quickly found comfort in a UK hippie group called the New Age Travellers. 

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As a teen, she was exposed to the punk scene and was influenced to colour her hair and don a nose ring. 

However, her time in an alternative scene was replaced with a classic beauty queen lifestyle when she won a 'Face of the Year' competition that was running in a local newspaper. As a result, she got a 12-month-long contract with a top modelling agency in London. 

Her first big break in the acting world came about in 1987 when she landed a role in Aria. The film was even screened at the Cannes Film Festival that same year. 

A year later, she played the lead of British show Christabel, and had a number of smaller roles in films including Rowing With The Wind, Kill Cruise, Passenger 57 and Beyond Bedlam between 1988 and 1995. 

However, she would go on to make headlines across the globe for the first time in 1994, when she accompanied her then-partner Hugh Grant to the London premiere of his film Four Weddings And A Funeral, in a plunging black Versace gown held together by gold safety pins. 

Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant, 1994. Image: Getty.

In hindsight, Hurley had no idea the dress would become an iconic moment in time. 

"I was so unprepared for what happened that night," the actor and model explained to Harpers Bazaar in 2019. "I urgently needed to find a dress to wear for Hugh’s premiere, and in those days I had no idea about fashion. 

"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. It was all very unglamorous compared to how things get done these days."

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Within a year, she became the face of Estee Lauder. It was a role she kept until 2001, and on top of that she gained a valuable friendship with the Versace family. 

"Gianni made that dress for a woman who is sure of herself and who isn’t afraid to break the rules," Donatella Versace said of her late brother. "Liz embodied all of this in an extraordinary way."

Hurley received her first and only major acting award (before she stepped into the modelling world on a full-time basis), for her starring role in the spy comedy film Austin Powers: International Man of Master. She would guest appear again in the sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, two years later.

From 1998 to 2000, she also appeared in other movies, including Permanent Midnight, My Favorite Martian, EDtv and Bedazzled.

Elizabeth Hurley's relationships.

Aside from her modelling and acting career, Hurley's own relationships have always been a point of public fascination. 

In 1987, she crossed paths with Hugh Grant on the set of the Spanish film Remando al Viento (Rowing with the Wind) and shortly after, they began dating. After she made headlines for her iconic Versace dress, the pair become a power couple in the UK. 

While they were seemingly the perfect pair, their relationship was put under fire when Grant was arrested for lewd conduct after reportedly picking up a sex worker off the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1995.

The actor was in Hollywood to promote his film, Nine Months, but it would become his most infamous trip in history after he found himself behind bars and with a mugshot that still haunts him. 

"Last night I did something completely insane. 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," Grant said in a public statement following his arrest. 

In regards to why exactly he did it, Grant said in 2021 on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast that he was not in a "good frame of mind". 

"I was about to launch my first Hollywood film — my timing was impeccable," he explained. 

"My problem was that was my first Hollywood film, and I'd just been to see it. The film was about to come out a week or two after that, and I had a bad feeling about it. I went to see a screening. Everyone in it was brilliant, but I was so atrocious that I was not in a good frame of mind." 

While Hurley stayed beside Grant, they eventually went their separate ways in 2000, the 1995 scandal playing a major role in their split. 

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Despite the chaos, the pair remain incredibly close to this day.

"The sex bit probably fizzled out, but now she's my absolute best friend — number one person I call in a crisis," Grant told Andy Cohen in 2015.

Hurley said another contribution to their breakdown as a couple was due to Grant's "grumpiness". 

"He used to really annoy me, actually. I mean, I love him, but, um, he's very annoying," she told WHHL. "My friends used to call him Grumpelstiltskin. He is very grumpy. But I found it actually fairly charming." 

In regards to ever getting back with Grant, Hurley says it is unlikely.

"There's no romantic flicker, but we love each other a lot," she told Hollywood Access in 2015. "I mean, I love him passionately. I love him like I love my son and my brother, and I used to love my father."

The actor went on to date billionaire Steve Bing on and off throughout the 2000s. They split officially after 18 months, but it wouldn't be long before Hurley realised she was pregnant with his son, Damian, who she gladly loved and raised as a single parent when he was born in April 2002. 

While Bing initially denied the claims, a paternity test later confirmed he was the father.

The businessman sadly passed away in June 2020 after reportedly taking his own life. 

Hurley went on to date and marry Indian textiles heir and businessman Arun Nayar in March 2007. They held two ceremonies - a lavish Hindu ceremony in India, which followed a Christian ceremony held at Sudeley Castle in England.

The couple split in 2010 after three years of marriage and finalised their divorce in 2011. 

Then, there was the infamous dabble Down Under where Hurley dated legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne. The couple were engaged by October 2011 - just four months after her divorce from Nayar was finalised. 

However, the pair never made it down the aisle as they split in 2013. 

Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley, 2013. Image: Getty.

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Warne said at the time of their dating, a full-blown media circus surrounded them.

"We had been seeing each other for about six months or so, so I didn’t introduce her to my children until it was real and I believed it had a future — it wasn’t just a bit of fun," Warne told Fox Cricket’s A Week With Warnie in 2020.

"So six months down the track she finally comes to meet the children in Australia and it was an absolute circus. I mean, the next-door neighbour’s kids were selling cordial for a buck out the front! All sorts of things were happening. They were dropping off golf clubs at the front trying to put her name on them."

He went on to say it became unsafe and "scary" for his family. 

"We tried to keep things as normal as possible but it got scary. Some of these rogue photographers trying to get exclusives - I remember my youngest daughter Summer screaming in the back seat, ‘Dad, dad slow down’. Cars jumping in front of us, running red lights."

"We couldn’t go anywhere else because we’d just get 30-40 people, photographers, news crews, everywhere we went," he explained.

"We had seven cars and a helicopter over our head just following us, running red lights, cutting off in front of us."

Despite buying a home together, the pair split in December 2013. Warne detailed in his book that there was "no single, clear reason" for the relationship breakdown. 

"The more you’re apart, the more you ask questions," he wrote. "I got jumpy about the time Elizabeth still spent with Hugh Grant… He is her best friend but they saw each other more when I wasn’t around so, well, you know."

"(I’m) quite sad it’s over because I still care about her deeply and she’s a wonderful person."

Elizabeth Hurley's family life.

When Hurley had her son Damian in 2002, she revealed she had made a personal commitment to put him "above work, above a social life, above everything".

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"He was going to be my No. 1, which has been and remains so," Hurley told US Weekly. "When you’ve got a clear vision ahead, you’ll do whatever you can to try to make that happen."

After creating her own swimwear line, the actor-model said it opened up a lot more time to spend time with her son. 

"Looking after my son became my number one task, and it was a joy to have someone else on whom to focus," she explained. "I was 36 and had been worrying about myself for quite long enough. I stopped doing movies and TV for the first eight years of his life, and I don’t regret it for a moment. I always put him first."

While working as a single mother, Damian's father was a renowned billionaire, but he refused to take responsibility, citing he was not the father. After a paternity test ruled him as the father, reports say the pair made efforts to bond and Bing had his son included in his will.

Despite the paternity test ruling Bing as the biological dad in 2017, Damian was cut out of his deceased father's will following a court appeal, which ruled him ineligible because he was born out of "wedlock". 

It was estimated he would have received $330 million from his father's fortune, if Bing's own father had not appealed the court ruling. 

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According to reports at the time, Bing’s fortune was split between the children belonging to his sister Mary. Both of Bing's children - Damian and Kira - were cut out.

Hurley later came out with a statement saying Bing would have "been devastated".

"When Stephen took his own life, he died thinking his children were going to be taken care of. What Stephen wanted has now been callously reversed. I know Stephen would have been devastated," she said.

"Stephen fought very hard in his last year to have his children recognised and repeatedly told me how incredibly important this was to him. He was happy beyond belief that the trial verdict ruled that Damian was to be treated like his sister’s children as far as the trust was concerned," she said.

Beyond this unfortunate outcome, Hurley has maintained a close relationship with her son, who is now 19-years-old.

"I don't regret [putting my career on hold for motherhood] for a moment," she said.

"I love my life. I love change and I love new experiences."

Feature Image: Getty / Mamamia.