This Classic Love Actually Scene Drove Alan Rickman ‘Insane’

"Poor Alan was there all the time, going, ‘Grr, ugh.’”

Hugh Grant has already made it quite clear just how “excruciating” he found that dancing scene in Love Actually, and he’s not the only star of the 2003 romcom who wasn’t all that fond of filming one of their segments.

The late Alan Rickman, who played the husband of Emma Thompson’s character Karen in the festive film, found one of its most memorable scenes particularly hard work – to the point that it drove him “insane”.

The revelation is made in a new Love Actually special that has just aired in the US. The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later featured interviews with cast and crew.

Alan Rickman arrives for the film premiere of Love Actually.
Alan Rickman arrives for the film premiere of Love Actually.
Andy Butterton - PA Images via Getty Images

The scene in question sees Alan’s character, Harry, shopping at a department store with his wife. After splitting splitting up to choose gifts, Harry heads for the jewellery counter. Except he’s not looking for a gift for his wife, but for another woman at work.

Rowan Atkinson plays the sales person who prepares Harry’s sneaky gift in a hilariously over-the-top – and prolonged – manner which sees him adding a gold ribbon, rose buds, lavender and a cinnamon stick.

According to the film’s writer and director, Richard Curtis, the prolonged wrapping process was improvised by the Mr. Bean star, much to his co-star’s frustration.

“Rowan was just taking his time,” Richard explained. “So, he would do 11-minute takes.

“[He’d say], ‘let’s go back and do that. Let’s start again.’ And poor Alan was there all the time, going, ‘Grr, ugh.’”

Despite Love Actually becoming one of the most beloved and successful Christmas films of all time, not all of its stars are fans.

Lulu Popplewell, who played Emma Thompson’s daughter Daisy in the movie, labelled it “shit” when she was asked what she thought of it in 2020.

“I don’t regret it at all,’ she told the Almost Famous podcast. “Look, softly be it spoken I think it’s a shit film.

“I think it’s aged badly. All the women in it are sort of passive objects. I think that there was an article describing them as passive objects to be acquired.

“On re-watching it’s not great. You also have to remember that [Richard Curtis] was writing in the context of the time.

“I mean, I don’t know how he excuses more recent work. But it was in 2003 or whenever it was out.

“But it is also not for me because I don’t like cheese. I’m glad people like it.”


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