The Holiday: 21 Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Never Knew About The Festive Rom-Com

Including a scene that took a whole week to film, and a celebrity cameo that happened by pure chance.
Cameron Diaz and Jude Law in The Holiday
Cameron Diaz and Jude Law in The Holiday
Sony Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

The Holiday may have received mixed reviews upon its release in 2006, but over the subsequent years it has firmly cemented itself as a modern Christmas classic.

A mainstay on late-night ITV2 and one of Netflix’s big hitters during the festive season, it’s hard to avoid the Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black-led Christmas rom-com each year, not that we’d want to.

Sure, it’s packed with clichés and schmaltz, but there’s something about it that is always guaranteed to give us a festive glow (and no, it’s absolutely got nothing to do with Jude Law’s eyes, ok?).

No matter how many times you’ve seen The Holiday though, we’ll bet you didn’t know all these behind-the-scenes facts...

1. Rose Cottage is not real

Rose Cottage in The Holiday
Rose Cottage in The Holiday
Moviestore/Shutterstock

It might have looked like it had stood there for a hundred years, but in fact Iris’ Surrey cottage was purpose built for the film.

According to The Telegraph, the production team scoured the Surrey countryside to find the perfect cottage, but ended up building their own on a hill overlooking the town of Shere.

2. It only took four days to build the house

However, set dressers spent two weeks making it look old and authentic.

Director Nancy Meyers told ComingSoon: “It was really an amazing process to build a cottage because the people that lived there couldn’t believe that people from Hollywood were coming and building this cottage, but they did a magnificent job. We built the road, the wall around it, put in the trees.”

3. The Rose Cottage interior scenes were shot on a soundstage in LA

The inside of the cottage was built on a sound stage
The inside of the cottage was built on a sound stage
Moviestore/Shutterstock

According to IMDB, the scenes inside the specially-built cottage were actually filmed thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, where sets were built on a soundstage.

4. Exterior scenes were shot in Godalming and Shere in Surrey

According to Surrey Live, Jude Law and Cameron Diaz filmed scenes on Church Street in Godalming, which was dressed with Christmas decorations and fake shops for the movie.

The pub in which Graham and Amanda meet again is also a real pub called The White Horse.

5. There was real snow in Surrey during the week of filming

Cameron Diaz said the snow was fully degradable
Cameron Diaz said the snow was fully degradable
Sony Pictures/Kobal

It reportedly snowed three times in Surrey during filming, but the crew had already hired a snow machine because they hadn’t counted on any of the white stuff falling.

According to Cameron Diaz in an interview with Vulture, the fake snow that was used was all “totally biodegradable”.

6. Amanda’s LA mansion is also real

Amanda's LA home from The Holiday
Amanda's LA home from The Holiday
Zade Rosenthal/Sony/Kobal/Shutterstock

Well, the exterior is anyway.

The property, located in the wealthy city of San Marino, California, was built in 1928 by architect Wallace Neff.

Like with Rose Cottage though, the interiors were all sets built on a soundstage, and according to IMBD, they cost approximately $1million to build.

7. The scene where Amanda runs through the snow took a week to film

In an interview with Vulture, Cameron Diaz revealed the scene snowballed (no pun intended) during filming, having not even been in the original script.

“That whole scene took a week to shoot. That wasn’t even in the script,” she said, telling of how it had been just “four lines of description” in her script.

“They only used two shots, but we shot like ten shots of me running across ten different fields. And I’m wearing that Valentino cashmere, wool trench coat, a turtleneck cashmere sweater.

“Literally, I was so fit by the end of that week. I ran probably seven miles a day in those heels. Through mud and hills. It was so hilarious.”

8. The director’s attention to detail was something that was famed on set

According to IMDB, Nancy would make the actors do many, many takes of certain scenes, including the one set at the newspaper’s Christmas party.

Kate Winslet reportedly got a laugh from those on set when she dropped to her knees to jokingly pray it was the last time she would have to do it, after a long series of takes.

9. Cameron Diaz also recalled Nancy’s desire for repeated takes

The Holiday director Nancy Meyers
The Holiday director Nancy Meyers
Zade Rosenthal/Sony/Kobal/Shutterstock

She told Vulture: “She already knows exactly how she wants to see it, but she needs to see it first to make sure that it’s what she’s seeing. And once she sees it, it’s almost like she has to see it, I’d say, seven times consecutively. If she saw it exactly the same seven times, then she felt that she had it. And then when she had it, she had it. And then she’d want to see it differently. And then if you do it differently, you’d have to do it another seven times exactly the same.”

Sounds exhausting to us.

10. There’s an Easter egg hidden in Amanda’s film collection

In a cheeky nod to Kate Winslet’s film career, when Iris arrives at Amanda’s and notices her film collection, one of the movies is Enigma – a picture that Kate actually starred in five years prior to The Holiday.

11. The film was written with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in mind to play Amanda and Iris

Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet played Amanda and Iris
Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet played Amanda and Iris
Moviestore/Shutterstock

Nancy admitted she knew she wanted Kate and Cameron “during the writing process”.

Speaking to ComingSoon, she said: “You know, I think a screenwriter would lie to you if they said, “I don’t think about anybody when I am writing.” I can’t imagine it, you know somebody has got to say it and do it. It’s natural to start fantasizing about who is going to be in it and I think Cameron is a great comedienne and I thought about this before I cast her and once I cast her she continued to thrill me in that area.

“Cameron’s really a girl’s girl and boys adore her obviously. She seemed absolutely the right choice for a California girl.”

She added of Kate: “Then, if you’re writing a 30-year-old woman in England you obviously think of Kate Winslet, she’s just one of the great actresses.”

12. The character of Graham evolved the most during the writing process

Jude Law as Graham
Jude Law as Graham
Moviestore/Shutterstock

Nancy revealed to ComingSoon: “I sort of put him through some twists and turns that you don’t expect. Then, when I was done, of course you think of Jude Law. He’s so handsome and he’s really such a terrific actor, but I wasn’t immediately sure that he was going to fit into the genre and do this kind of work.

“So I met with him and we went through the script together and he just got it. You know, he just hasn’t had a chance to do it before.”

13. Cameron Diaz and Jude Law never really interacted with Kate Winset and Jack Black

The original The Holiday film poster
The original The Holiday film poster
Sony Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

While both sets of interior scenes were shot in LA, that didn’t mean there were many times where the two couples crossed paths while filming.

Cameron told Vulture: “I did a lot of acting on my own, and just with Jude. Because we only had one scene with Jack and Kate. Our characters never crossed over. Basically Kate and Jack did their movie; Jude and I did ours. We only had the one scene at the end, where we all came together.”

She added: “Jude and I had a lot of fun shooting our bits.”

Kate Winslet said that the moments she and Cameron did get to film together were “really, really fun”.

“She’s extremely hard working and she’s a great team member,” she told Collider. “But our paths would cross, you know, sometimes we’d be shooting, for example, the scene with Jack and I in the video store. Cameron sort of happened to be around in the area and she came by, and she was there for sort of, half of the shooting day. And she was just giving support and making us all feel that we were a part of the same thing together, you know, she was very aware of that. And she’s a truly fantastic person.”

14. The ending was actually one of the first scenes the cast filmed

Cameron told Vulture that the New Year’s party where Iris and Miles join Amanda and Graham at his cottage in the final moments of the film were actually shot “kind of at the beginning of the shoot”.

15. Dustin Hoffman’s cameo happened by pure chance

Dustin Hoffman made a cameo in The Holiday
Dustin Hoffman made a cameo in The Holiday
Sony Pictures/Kobal

The acting legend features in the scene where Iris and Miles are in the video store, but he was actually never supposed to be in the film.

According to the film’s DVD commentary, Dustin was having lunch nearby and noticed all the cameras outside where Kate Winslet and Jack Black were filming and popped in to see what was happening.

Having already known director Nancy Meyers, they facilitated a cameo, which made the final cut.

16. Lindsay Lohan’s cameo also came about because of the director

Lindsay Lohan and James Franco also popped up in a film trailer Amanda was working on
Lindsay Lohan and James Franco also popped up in a film trailer Amanda was working on
Sony Pictures/Kobal

Lindsay popped up in The Holiday in the film trailer Amanda was editing at the start of the movie.

Her cameo came about as Nancy had previously directed Lindsay some eight years earlier in her breakthrough role in The Parent Trap.

Nancy told ComingSoon: “I told her she owes me everything so I made her do it. I called her and said, ‘You have to do this for me,’ but she was sweet about it, she was totally there.”

17. Kate Winslet already had a personal connection to Rufus Sewell

Rufus Sewell and Kate Winslet pictured together at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997
Rufus Sewell and Kate Winslet pictured together at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997
Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

Iris spends a lot of time in the film trying to get over her love-rat colleague Jasper, who is played by Rufus Sewell.

Kate and Rufus had some history of their own, having previously been in a relationship back in the 90s.

18. There’s a factual error in the film

Arthur and Iris discuss the fact Cary Grant is from Surrey, but actually, they’re wrong as the acting legend is originally from Bristol.

19. The director had to keep reminding Eli Wallach to act older

Nancy Meyers on set with Eli Wallach
Nancy Meyers on set with Eli Wallach
Zade Rosenthal/Sony/Kobal/Shutterstock

In an interview with Collider, Kate recalled how the acting legend, who portrayed Arthur, was much more sprightly than the character who he was playing, despite being 90 when the film was made.

As a result, the director would have to remind him to play “older” than he felt.

Kate said: “He has this incredible energy and Nancy [Meyers] would say to him all the time, she’d say, ‘Could you act a little more seventy?’ He’s just he’s like a sixty year-old. He moves around much, kind of, freer than you would expect a person at the age of 90 to, he was just incredible… incredible.”

Sadly, Eli passed away in 2014 at the age of 98.

20. Eli had just as many anecdotes as Arthur too

The late Eli Wallach
The late Eli Wallach
Moviestore/Shutterstock

Kate told Collider: “He would sit me down between takes and he say, ‘I’m gonna tell you another story.’ And he would sit me down and he’d say, ‘Now the thing about Marilyn [Monroe]…’ And I’d be like, oh [expressing excitement] and he’d just come out with these glorious anecdotes. Just fantastic stories of experiences that he has had that were directly useful in playing Iris, because she had that level of fascination with Arthur, and I just had it, I just had it. It was there everyday with Eli.”

21. The director added in the ‘boob graze’ moment after something similar happened on set

Remember the bit in the Sushi bar where Miles accidentally grazes Iris’ breast? Well, Nancy Meyers added that in the film after a similar thing happened with her and Jack Black on set.

She told ComingSoon: “One day on the set he bumped into me and said, ‘Oh, sorry about the boob graze,’ and I just laughed so hard because men bump into women all the time like that and act like they didn’t do it, but he immediately said sorry about the boob graze so I wrote it into the next scene he did.”

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