Love Actually is packed with memorable moments, from Hugh’s dancing to Emma’s sobbing to Colin’s romantic proposal. But writer and director Richard Curtis had so much material that not all of it fit within the finished film…
Speaking to fellow director Paul Feig for Empire magazine, the man behind Love Actually – and its Red Nose Day sequel – revealed his initial storyline plotting involved several characters never seen in the movie.
“There was a big story about a schoolgirl who fell in love with another schoolgirl,” he explained. “And then we zoomed into a photograph at Laura Linney’s charity and it turned out these two Kenyan women were talking about how they didn’t like their daughters’ fiancés. There were a lot of fallers.”
Those two plots join another deleted strand that was actually filmed, featuring Anne Reid as a stern headmistress whose partner Geraldine (Frances de la Tour) is terminally ill.
Curtis recalled to Feig how he’d come up with the characters and their arcs during walks to recover from a back operation, and also shared details of the scene he had once planned to begin with.
“The movie originally started with a conversation between some guys in a bar. Oddly enough I think it was a joke that Judd [Apatow] then wrote in a movie ten years later. So this guy was talking about how he fantasised a lot about his wife’s death, because he thought there’d be a lot of women in cute black frocks at the funeral. Some of whom would hand him their phone number, saying, ‘I know it’s going to be complicated for you. It doesn’t have to be deep.’ I thought, ‘Well, there’s one bit. What comes second?’ Slowly building up this wave.”
Curtis is welcoming back a string of stars for his Red Nose Day sequel, including Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson (above) and more. But one storyline that won’t be revisited in the follow-up is that of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman after the latter passed away last year.
The director added that their scenes in the original film were the hardest to get right “because they had the realest story to tell”.
Although he did go on to recall that “Hugh’s story had its tricky moments too. He didn’t want to dance. Hugh was fundamentally nervous that I was turning him back into a floppy-haired romantic lead. And the more he thought about it, the less likely he thought it was that the Prime Minister would dance down the stairs.
“But he changed his mind, due to contractual obligation,” Curtis laughed.
And – much to the dismay of fans – the filmmaker also revealed he had once toyed with the idea of doing a “proper Love Actually sequel” but decided against it. “I wonder what I think now about love, because I’ve experienced a lot of deaths and illness. I think therefore I would make a sadder film, and I’m not sure that would be great.”