10 Things You Never Knew About 'Love Actually'
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Since it was released in 2003, Love Actually has firmly established itself within the pantheon of enduring holiday rom-coms. Who can resist Hugh Grant's charming prime minister, Colin Firth's buttoned-up writer, or Bill Nighy's cheeky old rocker? Excitingly, it forms part of AMC's "Best Christmas Ever," a slate of 835 hours of holiday classic films and family favorites airing all day, every day through December 25.
To whet your appetite, here are 10 things you might not know about this beloved British movie from writer-director Richard Curtis.
1. Dame Emma Thompson delivered 12 takes of the famous crying scene – and nailed it every single time.
"I shot in medium-wide, and didn't move the camera," Curtis told the Daily Beast in 2013. "We just let it happen, and Emma walked into the room 12 times in a row and sobbed. It was an amazing feat of acting."
Thompson revealed in 2018 that she poured her own heartbreak over ex-husband Sir Kenneth Branagh into each take, telling the Evening Standard: "That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it's something everyone's been through. I had my heart very badly broken by Ken. So I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me. It wasn’t exactly that, but we've all been through it."
2. In case you were wondering, Alan Rickman's character, Harry, definitely has an affair with his secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch).
Script editor Emma Freud (Curtis' wife) confirmed our worst suspicions in a tweet to a fan a few years ago, recalling: "I begged Richard just to make it a flirtation, but no, [they went] the whole way." She also confirmed that the married couple don't break up, saying: "They stay together but home isn't as happy as it once was."
3. There was no pecking order on set – seriously.
"We didn't all film together, but we had a big trailer park for all the cast," Nighy told The Guardian in 2013. "There were so many famous people in there, we used to talk about being on Liam Neeson Way or Emma Thompson Road or Hugh Grant Avenue. And it was a masterpiece of diplomacy, too; we all had the same size and type of trailer."
4. Shockingly, Nighy wasn't necessarily first choice to play Billy Mack.
"Bill Nighy's was the strangest casting," Curtis told The Guardian. "I had two famous guys in mind to play the aging rocker Billy Mack, and I couldn't decide who to ask. But at the read-through, Bill did it so perfectly he became a definite yes. I've never told anyone else who I wanted. I'll put it in my will."
5. The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln wrote those famous handwritten signs himself.
“It is my handwriting!” Lincoln told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. “It’s funny, because the art department did it, and then I said, ‘Well, can I do it?’ because I like to think that my handwriting is really good. Actually, it ended up with me having to sort of trace over the art department’s, so it is my handwriting, but with a sort of pencil stencil underneath.”
6. Rising star Joe Alwyn (The Favourite, Harriet) – and partner of Taylor Swift – auditioned to play Liam Neeson's son Sam.
But he lost out to future Game of Thrones star Thomas Brodie-Sangster. “I remember reading some scenes with Hugh Grant and Richard Curtis,” Alwyn revealed to GQ in 2018. In fairness, no one could accuse Brodie-Sangster of failing to commit to the part – he even learned to play the drums for his role as Liam Neeson's lovesick stepson.
7. Hugh Grant was not a fan of the iconic dance scene... at all.
“A not nice memory is mainly Hugh and the dancing," Curtis told the Daily Beast. "He was hugely grumpy about it. He was so wanting his bit not to be fake; he wanted to feel as though he could be prime minister. Whenever I said, ‘do it a bit sweeter’ or ‘do it a bit more charming,’ he thought he was being tricked.”
Grant has been equally candid about the scene, describing it as "absolute hell" in the BBC career retrospective Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen, according to Variety.
8. Plus his scenes weren't actually filmed inside 10 Downing Street, home of the British P.M.
However, Curtis and production designer Jim Clay were given a two-hour tour of the P.M.'s official residence so they could make their replica as realistic as possible. Their tour guide? Future prime minister Gordon Brown.
9. There's a reason why Keira Knightley wears a hat in some of her scenes: she had a big pimple on her face that day.
“This is the problem with being 17 and being in films," she told BBC Radio 1 in 2018. "And it was humongous, so there was no choice but to find a hat to cover it 'cause there was no lighting and there was no makeup that was gonna cover it.”
10. The lake that Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz) go swimming in was only 18 inches deep.
So they had to shoot the entire scene on their knees – that’s acting for you.
Do you have a favorite moment from Love Actually?