Hugh Grant based The Gentlemen character on real-life slimy reporters

From Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to Snatch, director Guy Richie has been making British gangsters out of Hollywood A-listers for 20 years

In his new film, The Gentlemen, it's Hugh Grant and Matthew McConaughey  getting the underworld treatment.

Fool's Gold star McConaughey plays Mickey Pearce, a slick american expat looking to cash out his cannabis empire.

"Mickey to me was, you know, this guy just trying to gracefully retire, sell his company for a fair price; but a little bit of lions around him won't let him do that," McConaughey tells Newshub.

One of those circling lions is more of a weasel, with Notting Hill star Grant oozing greasy charisma as conniving tabloid reporter Fletcher.

"The cameras tend to like super realism, especially nowadays when we're bombarded with reality television and real people, any kind of acting starts to look a bit theatrical," says Grant.

"And then if you have big, very written speeches, and you think 'this could be revolting'; but it's marvellous the way we brought it off."

Luckily for Grant, getting into character a slimy reporter wasn't too hard.

"I think I've met these people. I must have, I don't know where," he smirks.

The Gentlemen is in New Zealand cinemas from Thursday.