Elizabeth Hurley and Son Damian Dish on Their ‘Twin-Like’ Bond (Exclusive)

Elizabeth Hurley’s son Damian had the vision, precision and ambition of a polished Hollywood director when he was just a kid. 

“I gave him his first camcorder when he was around 8. And from that moment on, he filmed us nonstop. He wrote scripts. He bullied every friend and family member into making his mini-films,” the British actress and model, 58, recalls in the new issue of PEOPLE. 

Cast members included A-listers and athletes alike: Four Weddings and a Funeral star Hugh Grant (Elizabeth’s ex and one of Damian’s godfathers) was featured, and Elizabeth’s then-fiancé, the late cricket player Shane Warne, “played many a lead role,” adds Damian. 

“Every single person was a phenomenal sport,” he continues.

Thinking his obsession was a childhood hobby, Elizabeth made her boy a promise, she remembers: “ ‘If you ever make a real movie, I’ll be in it.’ ”

Elizabeth Hurley and son Damian Hurley in 2004.

Barry Batchelor – PA Images/PA Images via Getty


Then “my bluff was called,” as Elizabeth puts it. A couple years ago the 21-year-old model and drama school grad was asked by a Lionsgate exec, who’d seen a short movie Damian had made, to write and direct a full-length feature film. 

The result is the sexy, twisty mystery Strictly Confidential, which stars Elizabeth as Lily, a wealthy woman whose daughter Rebecca drowned near the family home in the Caribbean. 

A year later Rebecca’s best friend, Mia (Georgia Lock), and their group of twentysomething friends reunite at Lily’s beachside retreat, where secrets emerge. 

“To immerse yourself in this world, it’s an adventure,” says Elizabeth, who calls her role “a bloody good part.”

Elizabeth Hurley in ‘Strictly Confidential,’ written and directed by her son Damian Hurley.

Lionsgate


Working with family can often be fraught, but for the Hurleys it was a great experience thanks to the deep connection they’ve shared since Elizabeth gave birth to Damian in 2002 after her relationship with American film producer Steve Bing had already ended. (Bing died by suicide in 2020.)

“When you’re an only child with a single parent, the facade of ‘I’m the adult, and you’re the child who is going to listen to me’ goes quite fast,” says Damian. Their dynamic is more like that of siblings. “We are very, very similar,” he adds. “We are twin-like.” 

“When we gel and everything’s phenomenal, it’s the best, because it’s like working with yourself, you’re just on a roll,” he says of working with his mother.

“Of course the second you disagree, you’re reacting exactly the same but driving each other demented,” he continues. “But I think that a certain amount of driving each other demented is healthy in any relationship.”

“It was an amazing experience,” he adds. “And when you’re working on an independent film — we shot this entire thing in 18 days — every second counts, every moment matters. And so you need someone you have a shorthand with.”

Elizabeth agrees. “The beauty of having a shorthand with family is that you’ve got a shorthand with family. The tough thing about having shorthand with family is that you’ve got a shorthand with the family,” she says.

Damian Hurley directing ‘Strictly Confidential’.

MSR Media


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With any other director or colleague, Elizabeth says she could “take an awfully long time to suggest perhaps there’s another way to do” a task. But with Damian, “I can say, ‘That’s wrong. Do it this way. Come on, we’re running out of time!’ ”

Even though Damian was the boss on set, he still called Elizabeth “Mum.” On the first day of work, he says he asked his mother, “Should I be calling you Elizabeth? Am I not calling you anything?” 

That lasted “an hour,” he says, then it was back to “Mum.” 

Strictly Confidential is in theaters and on demand Friday.

For more on Elizabeth and Damian Hurley, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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