Love Actually: 33 Things You Never Knew About The Festive Favourite

The Christmas rom-com is as popular as ever – even two decades after its release.

Christmas isn’t Christmas without brussels sprouts, family arguments and Love Actually on the box.

It might be a full two decades since the much-loved festive rom-com was released, but Richard Curtis’s all-star movie is as popular today as it was when it first hit cinemas.

But if you thought you knew everything there was to know about the film after watching it for the 65th time, think again...

1. There were only four years between these two stars. FOUR YEARS!

Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Keira Knightley
Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Keira Knightley

There’s only a four-year age gap between Keira Knightley, who played newly-wed Juliet and Thomas Brodie-Sangster who played lovestruck teenager Sam.

Keira was 17 during filming while Sam was only 13. Mind. Blown.

2. There was a good reason Keira Knightley wore that big hat

Keira Knightley in a hat (zit not pictured).
Keira Knightley in a hat (zit not pictured).

“I had a massive spot in the middle of my forehead,” she told BBC Radio 1. “It was humongous, so there was no choice but to find a hat to cover it — because there was no lighting or makeup that was going to cover it.”

3. The film’s creator and director Richard Curtis admitted there is one scene he would change if he could

Richard Curtis
Richard Curtis
PA Wire/PA Images

“I think the naked people should be wearing more clothes,” he told NME.

In case you need your mind jogging, Richard is referring to the scene in which Gavin & Stacey star Joanna Page’s character Judy is seen naked as her co-star Martin Freeman, as John, cups her breasts

4. Martin Freeman had an unusual way of hiding his blushes

The actor might appear naked in that scene with Joanna, but he was actually wearing a cock-sock. And yes, that is an official term.

5. There is one scene that gets cut the most from TV broadcasts

Martin Freeman and Joanna Page in one of their less x-rated scenes
Martin Freeman and Joanna Page in one of their less x-rated scenes
Peter MountainPeter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock

Yep, the love story of John and Judy as a pair of stand-ins on an erotic drama mimicking sex acts usually ends up getting the chop.

6. Richard Curtis cast members of his own family whenever he could

His daughter and wife Emma Freud appear as the second lobster in the Nativity, the wise man with the Spider-Man face paint is the couple’s son and the housekeeper at Downing Street is played by Emma’s mother.

7. Olivia Olsen – who sang All I Want For Christmas Is You – turned down multiple record deal offers after the film was released

“I could have been some child star and had a total breakdown by the age I am now,” she said. “I might have been a has-been by now instead of still trying to build up my career.” Olivia was last seen on Celebrity X Factor but was the first star to be voted off.

8. Richard Curtis wrote to Laura Linney to ask her to star

Laura Linney and Colin Firth on the set of Love Actually in 2002.
Laura Linney and Colin Firth on the set of Love Actually in 2002.
Stephen Butler/Shutterstock

...but there’s a bit more to this story. The actor revealed: “I got a letter in the mail from Richard Curtis saying that he’d been trying to cast this part, and he’d kept saying to his partner, Emma Freud, that he’d been looking for a ‘Laura Linney-type,’ and she said, ‘Why don’t you ask Laura Linney?’”

9. Hugh Grant HATED filming *that* dance scene

You might love that scene in which the PM can be scene strutting his stuff around No.10 to the Pointer Sisters’ Jump (For My Love), but the British actor described filming the scene as “absolute hell”.

10. Hugh didn’t actually rehearse his famous dance scene as he was so anxious about filming it

He explains: “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. 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.”

11. Think that card scene starring Andrew Lincoln looks familiar?

You’d be right…

12. Andrew Lincoln went all method when it came to those signs

“It is my handwriting!” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s funny, because the art department did it, and then I said, ‘Well, can I do it?’ because I like to think that my handwriting is really good

“Actually, it ended up with me having to sort of trace over the art department’s, so it is my handwriting, but with a sort of pencil stencil underneath.”

13. Some film fans have since called out the card scene as being problematic

But Martine McCutcheon who played Downing Street staff member Natalie, has defended the film’s divisive scene.

“I think people do crazy things when they are in love with people,” she said.

“He had his moment where he thought ‘enough now, I’ve told her how I feel, I love my friend too but I had to get it off my chest in the right way’. She’d already seen the video, and I think it was his way of making things explained and comfortable.”

14. Emma Thompson almost cried her eyes out for the film’s most heartbreaking scene

Twelve times in fact. “We just let it happen, and Emma walked into the room 12 times in a row and sobbed. It was an amazing feat of acting,” Richard Curtis told The Daily Beast.

15. Emma drew on her own real-life heartache for the scene

After her now ex-husband Kenneth Branagh allegedly had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter, Emma said: “I had my heart very badly broken by Ken, so I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me. Well it wasn’t exactly that, but we’ve all been through it.”

16. Emma actually wore a ‘fat suit’ for the duration of the movie

Richard Curtis and Emma Thompson on the set of Love Actually in 2002.
Richard Curtis and Emma Thompson on the set of Love Actually in 2002.

She was slimmer than the character Richard Curtis had envisioned.

17. Bill Nighy’s favourite line is one of his own

Bill plays rocker Billy Mack, who at one point utters this piece of advice: “Hi kids! Don’t buy drugs – become a rock star and they give you them for free.”

18. Bill followed in the footsteps of The Beatles (kinda)

He recorded Christmas Is All Around at the world famous Abbey Road Studios in London, made famous by the legendary British band.

19. That definitely isn’t the real 10 Downing Street

Hugh Grant (left) and Richard Curtis on the Love Actually set in 2002.
Hugh Grant (left) and Richard Curtis on the Love Actually set in 2002.

Richard Curtis and his production designer Jim Clay were only permitted into the PM’s residence whilst heavily supervised and so had to recreate those (very convincing) interiors from memory at Shepperton Studios.

20. There was a ‘kissing consultant’ on set

Richard Curtis’ wife Emma Freud choreographed *that* kiss between Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz, who plays Portuguese waitress Aurelia. “I was the kissing consultant,” Emma revealed, before adding: “And that is a real job.”

21. Oh and the lake that Colin and Lúcia swam in isn’t quite as it seems

It was only 18 inches deep. So the two actors were actually kneeling in that scene, rather than swimming.

22. The production team spent 45 minutes deciding what colour underwear Aurelia would wear for the lake scene.

They opted for pale blue, but you probably already knew that.

23. Eurovision superfans might recognise Lucia from somewhere else

Before starring in the film, Lúcia represented Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996 and has released four albums to date.

24. Martine McCutcheon’s character Natalie was originally called Martine

It was changed as the filmmakers didn’t want the EastEnders star to know the part was written especially for her (yes, it really was).

25. Unsurprisingly, Hugh Grant wasn’t a fan of Boris Johnson’s use of the film’s famous card scene


The PM recreated one of the film’s most iconic scenes in an effort to win votes at the 2019 general election.

Afterwards Hugh told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I did notice that one of the cards from the original film that he didn’t hold up was the one where Andrew Lincoln held up a card saying ’Because at Christmas, you tell the truth. I just wonder if the spin doctors in the Tory party thought that was a card that wouldn’t look too great in Boris Johnson’s hands.” Burrrrrrrn.

26. But Boris Johnson hasn’t even seen the film

“I’ve not seen all of it from beginning to end because I’m so busy,” Boris said. “But I’m familiar with the basic concept and the fantastic work done by Hugh Grant.” Do you want to tell Hugh, or shall we?

27. Claudia Schiffer did very nicely out of her cameo appearance

Claudia Schiffer. See that smile? Worth about 25K.
Claudia Schiffer. See that smile? Worth about 25K.

The former supermodel was reportedly paid £200K for her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene. She’s on screen for a whole minute.

28. Because of the size of the cast, the actors had their own trailer park village during production

“We didn’t all film together, but we had a big trailer park for all the cast,” Bill Nighy told The Guardian. “There were so many famous people in there, we used to talk about being on Liam Neeson Way or Emma Thompson Road or Hugh Grant Avenue. And it was a masterpiece of diplomacy, too; we all had the same size and type of trailer.”

29. All of those passengers greeting loved ones at Heathrow Airport’s are real people

They were filmed on hidden cameras and everyone featured had to sign a waiver agreeing to be included in the festive film.

30. The movie has been remade – or rather the central storyline has been interpreted – three times

The artwork for It All Began When I Met You is based on the original Love Actually cinema poster.
The artwork for It All Began When I Met You is based on the original Love Actually cinema poster.
Warner Bros

There is an unofficial Indian offering titled A Tribute To Love, a Polish take called Letter To St. Nicolas and a Japanese version, It All Began When I Met You, which borrows the concept as well as the film’s poster layout (above).

31. There was a sale after filming wrapped

The cast and crew were given the opportunity to buy items from the sets as well as the clothes worn by the characters once filming was complete.

32. Martine McCutcheon feared killing on-screen love interest Hugh Grant on her first day of filming

Martine and a not-dead Hugh inn Love Actually
Martine and a not-dead Hugh inn Love Actually

The former EastEnders star’s first scene involved jumping into Hugh’s arms, which hadn’t proved as easy as it looked on screen.

Martine explains: “I was really nervous because I had to run and jump on Hugh, that was my first scene, and I was thinking ‘Oh my God, I’m going to kill him!’

“He was like ‘Come on, go for it’, and I was so nervous because I had never had to jump on anybody in a scene in my life and now as I do it, it’s with the heartthrob that is Hugh Grant, in front of everybody, in front of all these amazing actors, and what if I knock him out? What if I do something wrong?”

33. The word ‘actually’ is actually said quite a lot in the film (actually)

23 times in total, in fact. 22 by the characters, and once in the opening monologue.

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