9 things you probably didn’t know about Love Actually

'Tis the season to watch Richard Curtis's romcom classic for the millionth time — so here are some behind-the-scenes secrets...

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“I did a rehearsal reading of the script as a favour to the great casting director, Mary Selway, who had been trying to get me into a film for a long time,” Nighy said. “I thought it was simply to help her out to hear the script aloud and to my genuine surprise I was given the job.”

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“I think the best bit of casting is Thomas Sangster,” Curtis said. “I cannot tell you how much he was the only person who came in who could do it at all.”

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“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,” Curtis said. “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.” 

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Elisha Cuthbert, who played one of the American girls Colin meets in a bar, said, “we were allowed to improvise and try different things and it wasn’t just completely set into Richard’s writing… we were allowed to sort of venture, at least in the scenes that we got to play with, January Jones, myself, the other girls. It was nice that we got to sort of play around. ”

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“I wrote Martine McCutcheon’s part for her, too. I even called the character Martine,” Curtis said, “though I had to change it before the read-through so she didn’t think she’d already got it.”

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Curtis wanted to cast someone who looked like the supermodel, but he couldn’t find anyone. He ended up offering her the part and, much to his delight, she took it.

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Curtis said, “a not nice memory is mainly Hugh and the dancing. 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. He kept on putting it off, and he didn’t like the song – it was originally a Jackson 5 song, but we couldn’t get it – so he was hugely unhappy about it.”

But when they did finally film the scene, on the final day, Grant did it well and was singing along with the words…

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In 2005 Tony Blair referenced Hugh Grant’s patriotic speech from the film when talking about Britain’s “special relationship” with the USA, saying: “I know there’s a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in Love Actually and tell America where to get off. But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there’s the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause.”

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“Emma’s scene with the Joni Mitchell song is very extraordinary,” Curtis said. “Because I didn’t do it. I just wrote that she goes upstairs, puts on the record, and lets the emotion show. Everything in that scene is just Emma. We did that 12 times in four different sizes. She had to do it again and again. A brutal bit of sorrow.”