Love Actually: 8 Things You Didn’t Know About the Christmas Romcom
What is the holiday season without a little bit of rom-com crying? Love Actually celebrates ten festive, romantic Christmases this year, and has slowly weaseled its way into our annual winter traditions, both in America and across the pond.
With such a gigantic cast, there's bound to be a ton of hidden facts about the film! Read on for eight things you didn't know about Love Actually.
1. “To Me, You Are Perfect” — that’s actually Andrew Lincoln's handwriting. When Mark (Andrew Lincoln) holds up the boards for Juliet (Keira Knightley) professing his love for her, you're seeing Andy's own handwriting!
"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," he told Entertainment Weekly. "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."
2. Richard Curtis writes a guy named Bernard into everything, and he always sucks.Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bean, and Love Actually are all written by Richard Curtis — and they all have a dislikable character named Bernard embedded within. Even his sitcoms tend to have Bernards! There's a very good reason for this: revenge. British Member of Parliament Bernard Jenkins's wife Anne is an ex-girlfriend of Richard's.
In Love Actually, Bernard is Karen (Emma Thompson) and Harry (Alan Rickman)'s "horrid son."
3. Richard wanted to "tone down" Bill Nighy's costumes, but Bill wasn't having it. In Love Actually, Bill Nighy plays Billy Mack, an aging music star with a wardrobe full of silly outfits. But that bit of comic relief almost didn't happen!
"I've made so many mistakes in my career," admitted Richard to The Guardian. "I voted against Hugh Grant being cast in Four Weddings. And here, I had so many arguments about toning down Bill's costumes, but Bill was having none of it because they were so fun to wear."
4. Originally, Love Actually had not 10, but 14 storylines. Did you have trouble keeping track of Love Actually as-is? They cut four plotlines before reaching the final product. True story.
"At first, we had 14 different love stories, but the result was too long," admitted Richard.
So they cut four of the 14, including two that they'd already shot! "One was based on a poster in Alan Rickman's office of two women in Africa," remembered Richard. "The camera actually went into the poster and heard them talking about their daughters' love lives. Another involved Emma Thompson's son getting into trouble at school and the camera following the harsh headmistress home."
Another one, Richard tells The Daily Beast, was "a dreadful story based on a friend of mine who wrote an entire pop album about a girl he liked at school, and then they actually let him make the album." It didn't end well: "He brought her in on the day he was recording the song named after her so she could see it, and she came in and they recorded it for two hours, and she went off, and he later found out that during the time he was recording it, she’d had sex with the drummer. She’d just got bored, went off, and had sex with the drummer."
5. The Heathrow Airport shots are of real people. (Who didn’t know they were being filmed.) For the scenes of random people being reunited at the airport, they didn't cast extras — they used actual footage from hidden cameras at the real Heathrow Airport. It's both creepyand sweet!
“What is lovely in these airports, before the person you love comes through the door, the people waiting look their least attractive,” said Richard. “They’re tired, they parked in some airport car park, they arrived 45 minutes early. They look like they couldn’t muster a smile if you paid them a thousand pounds. Then their person comes through, and this explosion of personality takes over.”
6. Richard's kids were in the nativity play. In the scene where kids perform a nativity play onstage, the Spider-Man masked kid is the screenwriter's son; his daughter is a lobster.
7. Laura Linney and Rodrigo Santoro were both going through breakups during filming. Laura Linney (Sarah) and Rodrigo Santoro (Karl) play the only characters without a happy ending — which worked out well for them, since they were both experiencing some bittersweet endings, too, and were able to lean on each other.
"Sweet, wonderful Rodrigo! We were both brokenhearted at the time and had gotten out of rough relationships, so it was just very sweet," reflected Laura to The Daily Beast.
"Laura is a special human being—so sweet, humble, and down to earth," echoed Rodrigo.
8. Hugh Grant hated the dancing scene. "He was HUGELY grumpy about it," remembered Richard on the scene where the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) dances alone to "Jump (For My Love)" by the Pointer Sisters. "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."