Hugh Grant Was Alarmed By The Animatronic Monsters Of Dungeons And Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have clearly been itching to cut their teeth as directors on a big-budget spectacle. The duo worked their way up the food chain writing broad farces like "Horrible Bosses" before saluting John Hughes with both 2015's "Vacation" requel (which also served as their directing debut) and their script work on the 2017 Marvel Cinematic Universe high school romp, "Spider-Man: Homecoming." The duo would return as directors a year later with "Game Night," a delightful R-rated comedy that's packed with inventive aesthetic flourishes and sequences, so much so that it sometimes feels like a glorified demo reel to show what the pair could do with a bigger canvas to paint on.

You can imagine my joy when Goldstein and Daley ultimately landed "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" as their next directorial outing. (They were also set to helm "The Flash" at one point, but, quite frankly, I'm relieved they stepped away from that seemingly cursed project.) So far, the movie looks pretty enjoyable, too. At the very least, it appears to have captured the vibe of a real-life "D&D" campaign ... which is to say, its trailers are full of what would have been deadly serious fantasy-adventure scenarios if only the characters weren't all a bunch of lovably bumbling dweebs.

Speaking of lovable bumblers, Phoenix Buchanan himself, Hugh Grant co-stars in "Honor Among Thieves" as the magnificently-named Forge Fitzwilliam, a con artist who allies with the film's heroes (when it suits him, anyway). "I love a total fraud," Grant told Empire Magazine. "It suits me. The more duplicitous and diabolical and selfish and vain a character is these days, the more it appeals to me. I don't know what that says about me."

He did not, however, feel so fondly about the movie's animatronic fantasy creatures.

'Animatronics! Terrifying.'

Even with all the CGI wizardry required to bring the "Dungeons & Dragons" RPG universe to convincing life in "Honor Among Thieves," John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein still found room for a good deal of practical effects, which is great news for fans of old-fashioned animatronic fantasy critters. However, for Hugh Grant, who's never worked on a film with such fantastical creatures before (assuming '60s-styled Henry Cavill in Guy Ritchie's "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." doesn't count), it was all a bit overwhelming. As he explained to Empire:

"Just when you thought you were doing a rather powerful or amusing little bit of acting, you'd realise there was a f**king dragon walking past you in the background, stealing your thunder. There was a lot of incredibly intricate, I don't know what you call it..."

After the interviewer suggested he was looking for the word "animatronics," Grant continued:

"Animatronics! Terrifying. A fish that eats babies! And suddenly the whole floor of the set would be quicksand! I wish I'd had my children with me. They would have liked that."

Grant's kids surely aren't the only ones who would've loved to interact with the animatronics on the "Honor Among Thieves" set. By that same token, it's not surprising Daley and Goldstein would want to blend practical and digital effects in their first major tentpole, having previously struck a healthy balance between the two in the more action-oriented segments of their mid-budget comedies. Here's to hoping the final result is a thrillingly silly rumpus in the same vein as, well, an actual "Dungeons & Dragons" game.

"Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" will premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival on March 10, 2023, before opening in theaters three weeks later on March 31.