As the tenth anniversary of the theatrical release of Love Actually nears, VH1 takes a look back on the now classic holiday film. After talking with cast members and digging through old interviews, we learned some interesting things about ensemble film starring Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. For starters, it was never supposed to be a Christmas film! Say what?! We can’t even imagine our holidays without an annual viewing of this movie.
1. Love Actually was never meant to be a holiday movie.
While talking to VH1, director Richard Curtis admits that LA was never intended to have a Christmas theme. But the director loves Christmas films, so it seemed natural to make one of his own.
“I’m so surprised and delighted by the Love Actually thing, because when I first started the movie it wasn’t set at Christmas then I love Christmas movies so I thought I’ll make a Christmas movie, but it didn’t occur to me that it might be one of those Christmas movies where people actually watch it again and again and it’s a delightful surprise to me,” Curtis explains. “And I think maybe it’s because it’s got so many plots that people can’t remember what’s going to happen next, so it’s sort of satisfying–it’s not like watching a thriller where you know he’s about to get killed, I think you can’t quite remember where you are. But Love Actually, ’tis like a gift that my past has given me that people still like it.”
2. Love Actually came out of two different films written for Hugh Grant and Colin Firth’s characters.
In an interview with Vulture, Curtis explains how LA wasn’t originally written as an ensemble film. Curtis wrote two scripts before switching gears and opting to write an Atlman-esque movie.
After Notting Hill, I took my time, and I thought that I might write the film that turned out being Hugh’s story [in Love Actually] and the film that turned out being Colin’s story [in Love Actually] as whole films,” Curtis says. “I’d worked out whole films on those subjects, and then I thought, Oh, I don’t want to do these because they are just turning out to be a shape I know. And I said, ‘I’d be more interested in writing a film about love and what love sort of means, and how, you know, about the subject than rather than one example of a story about that subject.’ And then I remembered how much I loved Robert Altman’s movies with lots of stories — Nashville and Short Cuts. And how much I loved those Woody Allen movies with three or four stories. And Pulp Fiction. And Smoke. And I suddenly thought, Oh, I’ll write one of those. And then if I write one of those, I can not only deal with the Jolly-People-Fall-in-Love-and-Kiss ones, but I can also deal with the Emma Thompson story and the Laura Linney story and the father and son story and stuff.”
3. Richard Curtis originally thought Love Actually was a catastrophe.
“I’m immensely critical and uninterested in what I wrote in the first place,” Curtis tells Variety of the creation of the film. “It read really well, seemed to go well when we shot, then we watched it — catastrophe!”
It turns out, Curtis had to reassemble a number of vignettes and story lines to make sure audiences actually cared about the characters in the film. Even though they are woven together, Curtis is not sure it all comes together. “I’m not sure all the stories are from the same universe,” he jokes.
4. Claudia Schiffer was never supposed to be in the film.
In an interview with VH1, Elisha Cuthbert revealed that Schiffer was someone who came in last minute after the director had difficulty finding someone who matched her appearance.
“If I’m not mistaken, Richard Curtis wanted to have someone who looks like [Schiffer] and couldn’t find anyone that was right, and then actually calling her and getting her,” Cuthbert says. “So that’s amazing… I think in the script, it was always, I remember reading it being, you know, just a version of and then I don’t know if they were able to find anyone, I mean, how could you find another Claudia Schiffer? If you found another Claudia Schiffer, we’d all be rich. But yeah, so it was funny how it ended up, you know, him getting the real deal. I just thought it was brilliant.”
5. Little did Andrew Lincoln know, but he was actually playing Richard Curtis.
In the film, Lincoln played Mark, a character who secretly pines for Juliet (Keira Knightley) and later reveals his true feelings on a bunch of handwritten cards. Prior to filming the movie’s most iconic scene, Lincoln learned that he was playing a version of Curtis.
“Halfway through filming it, Richard’s partner Emma (Sigmund Freud’s great-granddaughter) came over and whispered in my ear, ‘You know, you’re playing Richard.’ I said, ‘What?’” The Walking Dead star recalls. “And she said, ‘Yeah. This is the closest to Richard that he’s ever written.’ That made it a double honor, because Richard is such a wonderful, extraordinary human being.”