It may be one of Hugh Grant’s most memorable on-screen moments, but the Paddington 2 actor admits he doesn’t harbour fond memories of filming his iconic Love Actually dance — in fact, he says it was “absolute hell”.
However, in the upcoming BBC Two documentary Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen, the actor recalls struggling with the scene, avoiding rehearsals before finally filming the routine “stone cold sober”.
“There was this dance written and I thought, ‘that’s going to be excruciating’ and it has the power to be the most excruciating scene ever committed to celluloid,” Grant says.
“I certainly dreaded filming it and Richard kept saying, ‘Don’t you think we’d better rehearse the dancing scene’ and I’d say, ‘Uh yes I’ve just gotta learn some lines…my ankle hurts today’. So it was never rehearsed.”
“Imagine, you’re a grumpy 40-year-old Englishman, it’s seven in the morning, you’re stone cold sober and it’s like, ‘Okay Hugh if you’d just like to freak out now’… absolute hell,” Grant adds.
“He hated the dance scene,” director Curtis confirms. “We left it to the final day. But as always he’d actually really rehearsed and had three or four little jokes up his sleeve and it turned out, from his dirty behaviour in discos across London, to be quite good at dancing.”
Grant’s Love Actually co-star, Oscar-winner Colin Firth, also remembers Grant “making a terrible fuss about the dance,” but adds: “It did delight everybody and I think it’s the highlight of the film for a lot of people.”
Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen airs on Monday 23rd December at 9pm on BBC Two