Richard Curtis: Love Actually was a “catastrophe”

Love is all you need - but a good editor helps too, apparently

It’s a British favourite that is almost impossible to avoid on TV every Christmas – but apparently Richard Curtis’ 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually was very nearly a complete disaster.

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“The only nightmare scenario that I’ve been caught in was Love Actually,” the writer/director said last night at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, “which worked at the read-through, and when we finished the film and I watched it edited it was… a catastrophe.”

Apparently the movie’s jigsaw-like structure (which examined the love lives of characters played by Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, Martin Freeman and many more) was a real headache for Curtis in his directorial debut.

“Because there were twelve stories, [finding the right order] was like three-dimensional chess… And that was enormously difficult to finish or get right,” he said.

Still, he was happy with the final result, right? Well, sort of – he’d have liked longer.

“You could have played with it for all time – but it had to be out by Christmas,” he said.

Curtis also revealed that he had to make extensive changes to another one of his hit films, 1999’s Notting Hill (which starred Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts).

“I get to audition for parts, and you change it when you hear they don’t work. And then you have read-throughs – I lost about a third of Notting Hill after the first read-through, and then kind of wrote almost a different film,” Curtis explained.

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He went on: “There are lots of processes of judgement by the reality of how people react to it.”