love actually production secrets

These 23 Love Actually production secrets will change the way you see the film

The lake Colin Firth swam in was only 11 inches deep

It’s been nearly 20 years since Love Actually first came out and it’s safe to say no one is sick of it yet. The film features 12 interwoven storylines and an iconic cast of famous actors including Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. And over the years the cast and crew have revealed a bunch of production secrets which will change how you see the film.

Emma Thompson revealed she wore a fat suit for filming and the cards Andrew Lincoln’s character creepily shares with Keira Knightly’s character were actually handwritten by him. Richard Curtis, the director and writer of Love Actually, has also spilled some secrets. He’s revealed in interviews the lake Colin Firth swam in was only 11 inches deep and the surprise wedding singers were inspired by the funeral of The Muppets creator.

These are 23 production secrets which will change the way you see Love Actually:

1. Loads of the director’s friends and family were in the film

via Netflix

Love Actually’s director Richard Curtis included a bunch of his own family and friends within a number of scenes throughout the film. Richard’s partner Emma Freud revealed a number of production secrets about Love Actually on her Twitter.

Emma said the housekeeper who was in the lineup at Hugh Grant’s arrival at Downing Street is her mother. Emma and Richard’s daughter Scarlett Curtis played one of the lobster’s in the nativity and their son Jake played the kid who had a spider web painted on his face.

And that’s not all. When Billy Mack gets his Christmas number one the record industry crowd is full of Emma and Richard’s friends.

2. The iconic Joni Mitchell scene took seven takes

If you don’t cry at this scene you’re dead inside. Emma Thompson is seen crying to Joni Mitchell after discovering her husband has an affair near the end of the film, and it turns out it took a number of takes to get it perfect.

Emma Freud said: “Joni Mitchell. Help. Still hurts. Sat on the floor watching her do that scene – seven takes. Crying every time. Goddess.”

3. Two storylines were cut

The final movie included 12 storylines however there were two more which were filmed but eventually ended up being cut.

One of these storylines involved a lesbian couple. The story featured a headmistress who has a sick partner who ended up dying from cancer.

Richard Curtis has expressed his regret at cutting the scene as he wanted it to show everyone has their own complicated love story to tell.

4. They filmed the gift wrapping scene in Selfridges at Midnight

via Netflix

A lot of filming for the movie took place on location in central London. The iconic gift wrapping scene in Selfridges with Rowan Atkinson and Alan Rickman was filmed in Selfridges at midnight.

5. Hugh Grant hated his dancing scene

Hugh Grant dancing to Jump is easily one of the best scenes in the movie, and yet he apparently hated it.

Richard Curtis said Hugh was “grumpy” about the whole scene, in particular because they had to change the song from a Jackson 5 one to Jump.

He said: “He was hugely grumpy about it… 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.”

6. There were five versions of the card scene

via Netflix

The card scene where Andrew Lincoln’s character rather creepily tells Kiera Knightly’s character he loved her was the result of an office poll.

Richard Curtis presented a number of ideas to the women in his office about the scene and they hated all of them until the cards.

In an interview he said: “I went out to the four girls who were in my office. I told them, ‘There’s this guy, he’s never told you he loved you. Which of these ideas are romantic and which are off-putting?’

“[I had ideas like] filling the courtyard outside her house with roses, and they went ‘yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck,’ for the first four. Then I had the idea of the Bob Dylan signs.”

And it turns out the cards were actually written by Andrew himself.

7. A number of the roles were written for certain people

Many of the characters seem perfectly suited to their roles and that’s because they were written with the actors in mind.

Richard Curtis loved Martine McCutcheon in Eastenders so much he had the character of Natalie written with her in mind. He even named the character Martine, however production changed the name to Natalie during auditions so Martine didn’t think she automatically had it.

Richard has also revealed he knew from the beginning he wanted Hugh Grant to play the prime minister and for Emma Thompson to be his sister.

8. The airport reunion scenes were real

They’re super cringe but the airport reunion scenes at Heathrow really make the film and it turns out they are 100 per cent real.

Members of the team were camped out at the airport and after filming people’s reunion moments would chase after them to ask if they could be included in the movie.

9. Emma Thompson wore a fat suit

via Netflix

I just wanna know why this was necessary?

10. Harry definitely had an affair

One of the biggest questions people still argue over is “did Harry actually have an affair with Mia?” and the answer is sadly yes. Yes he did.

Emma Freud revealed she asked Richard to make the relationship between Harry and Mia only flirtatious but he took it one step further.

On Twitter she said: “Definitely had an affair. I begged Richard just to make it a flirtation, but no. The whole way.”

11. The wedding singers were inspired by The Muppets

An early scene in the film features the surprise wedding singers at Juliet and Peter’s wedding. This cinematic magic was inspired by a real life moment at Jim Henson’s funeral.

Jim created The Muppets and at his funeral a number of his fellow puppeteers brought The Muppets to sing a song to the guests.

12. The lake Colin Firth swam in was only 11 inches deep

via Netflix

The moment where Colin Firth’s character and his girlfriend jumped in the pond to save his manuscript was actually not deep at all – in fact it was only 11 inches.

Richard Curtis revealed you can actually see the characters pretending to swim if you look hard enough.

13. Kiera Knightly and Thomas Brodie-Sangster were both teenagers in the film

It’s the fact that gets recycled every year and yet I’m still not over it. Whilst filming Kiera Knightly and Thomas Brodie-Sangster had an age gap of just five years. She was 18 years old and he was 13 years old, and yet their characters were in wildly different stages of their life.

Kiera’s character was getting married and Thomas’ was falling in love for the first time at the school nativity play.

14. Thomas learnt how to use the drums for the movie

A big part of Thomas’ storyline was learning to impress Joanna by playing the drums and he really did it in real life.

Thomas’ father can play the drums so he taught him before filming.

15. The actor who played Colin wasn’t paid for one scene

via Netflix

Kris Marshall, who played Colin, returned his pay check for one scene. The scene in question? The time he gets undressed by the three American girls. Shocker.

He said he enjoyed filming the scene so much he was happy to do it for free.

16. Claudia Schiffer was paid £200,000 for her one scene

In contrast, Claudia Schiffer was reportedly paid £200k for the one scene she appeared in. Not jealous at all.

17. Two characters are related in real life

Though they had no interaction in the movie Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Hugh Grant are actually related in real life.

They are second cousins as their great grandmothers were sisters. On set Thomas recalls Hugh Grant ruffling his hair and calling him “cousin”.

18. One scene was taken from another movie

Richard Curtis is responsible for some pretty iconic British movies and he apparently loved one of his scenes in another film so much he put it in Love Actually.

The scene in which Colin slags off the caterer’s food to her face was first filmed in Four Weddings and A Funeral. However it was cut so they reused the moment in Love Actually.

19. Joanna had to sing her song badly

love actually production secrets

via Netflix

Joanna singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is the perfect climax for the film and even though she sings it beautifully, it was meant to be even better.

As Olivia Olson who plays Joanna sung it so well, she was asked to make a few mistakes to make it more believable.

20. Olivia had her first kiss on set

In a recent interview Olivia revealed her first ever kiss happened on the Love Actually set when she kissed Thomas on the cheek.

She said: “It was my first kiss and on-screen kiss too. I was really nervous because I kind of had a crush on Thomas back in the day and I was also worried, because I was taller than him if it was going to look weird.”

21. The Barbie dolls were actually Ken dolls

The Barbie dolls Emma Thompson gives to her daughter’s friends were actually Ken dolls in dresses.

22. Bernard and Jamie’s names have a funny backstory

love actually production secrets

via Netflix

Remember the moment when one of the kids says “I hate Uncle Jamie” after Colin Firth’s character abandons the family for Christmas? Well the reason he was called Jamie is because Richard Curtis’ brother is called Jamie.

And Emma Thompson’s son in the film is called Bernard because Richard Curtis’ ex-girlfriend left him for a man called Bernard and so now he includes a “evil” character called Bernard into most of his films.

23. The word ‘actually’ is said 23 times

Well it is Love Actually after all.

Love Actually is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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