‘House’ Actor Hugh Laurie Once Felt Great Guilt Over Becoming an Actor Instead of a Real Doctor

Actor Hugh Laurie is widely regarded for his role as a doctor in the hit and long-running TV series House. Ironically, Laurie also had aspirations to become a doctor in real life as well.

He would later forego a career as a doctor for acting, a decision he admitted haunted him even after Hollywood success.

Hugh Laurie felt it was appropriate that he’d play fake doctors since his father was a real doctor

Hugh Laurie in season 1 of 'House.'
Hugh Laurie | Scott Humbert/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Laurie’s House role is one of the actor’s most highly regarded performances. The series was a medical drama that aired on Fox that saw Laurie as expert medical genius Dr. House. The show ran for eight successful seasons, drawing high ratings during its peak and earning Laurie several Emmy nominations.

After the series ended, Laurie found himself gravitating towards another role as a doctor in the TV series Chance. Playing a doctor in a television series again initially caused Laurie a bit of trepidation. But after reading the script, his worries were alleviated. Especially since he felt the risk of being typecast was minimal.

“If I play two doctors in my life, I don’t think I’ve exactly fallen into a genre that I can’t get out of,” he once said in an interview with the New York Times.

In a way, Laurie believed that it was fitting he’d end up filling his filmography with doctor roles considering his own father’s profession.

“My father was actually a doctor. And if it’s true that most men are sort of seeking to become versions of their father — and failing, by the way — it seemed appropriate that I wound up being a fake version of a doctor,” Laurie added.

Hugh Laurie felt guilt over becoming an actor instead of a doctor

Laurie’s late father had high hopes of Laurie entering the medical field. But instead, Laurie went down a different path. And despite his major success in the entertainment industry, Laurie didn’t believe that his father would’ve been too receptive of his career choices.

“I would have liked to have become a doctor myself and I still have doctor fantasies,” Laurie once told Britain’s Daily Express (via Contact Music). “We live in a world of shortcuts don’t we? And I took them. Dad would have hated that.”

Laurie shared that he did once make an honest effort to follow in his father’s footsteps. But in the end, he didn’t feel the medical field was a good fit for him.

“My father had high hopes for me following him into medicine. I wanted to and was going to choose the right subjects at school, but in the end I copped out. Medicine is awfully hard work and you have to be rather clever to pass the exams. Seriously, this is a source of great guilt to me,” Laurie said.

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Laurie’s profile received a significant boost after his lead role in the medical drama. Although he enjoyed the role, there were times when being Dr. Gregory House wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The constant attention he’d gotten from his newfound fame, and sometimes the work itself, occasionally took its toll on him.

“I had some pretty bleak times, dark days when it seemed like there was no escape,” Laurie said in a 2013 interview with Radio Times (via Daily Mail). “And having a very Presbyterian work ethic, I was determined never to be late, not to miss a single day’s filming. You wouldn’t catch me phoning in to say, ‘I think I may be coming down with the flu’. But there were times when I’d think, ‘If I were just to have an accident on the way to the studio and win a couple of days off to recover, how brilliant would that be?’”

After the last season of House, Laurie found himself enjoying a much simpler life with his family. And although he’s featured in a projects, Laurie didn’t think he could spend his years leading a TV series.

“If the opportunity presented itself, I’m not sure I’d either want or could physically do it. I imagine sportsmen come to a similar crossroads,’ he said of taking a lead role in another major, ongoing series,” he added.