In the years since it was released to a fairly lukewarm critical response, Richard Curtis’ ‘Love Actually’ has become something of a Christmas staple. Popping on your well-worn ‘Love Actually’ DVD for its annual viewing has become as important as digging out your Christmas jumper, buying your presents, and putting up the tree.
The film’s title is a bit of an in-joke by Richard Curtis. It was originally conceived as “Love Actually Is All Around”, a reference to “Love Is All Around”, the Wet Wet Wet cover from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ that inexplicably topped the UK charts for 15 weeks in 1994.
He probably realised we were all sick of the song and so abbreviated the title accordingly. The original title is retained in Hugh Grant’s opening monologue.
Here’s 10 more things you might not know about ‘Love Actually’…
The cut love stories
Curtis’ first draft of the script clocked in at 170 pages and included 14 different love stories, 4 of which didn’t make it to the cinema. The two left on the cutting room floor involved a lesbian relationship between a headmistress and her sick lover, and another set in Africa during a famine. One about a girl in a wheelchair and one about a lovesick drummer in a school band never made it past the script stage.
Watch some of the deleted scenes below…
The scene where Kris Marshall’s Colin unsuccessfully attempts to chat up the wedding caterer was actually based on a moment cut from the original ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ script. Probably explains why he’s so Hugh Grant-ish in this bit.
Hugh Grant absolutely loathed shooting his dancing scene. “A not nice memory [from ‘Love Actually’] is mainly Hugh [Grant] and the dancing,” Curtis told The Daily Beast.
“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.”
The film memorably uses the Sugababes hit ‘Too Lost In You’ over a moving montage before the office party, but a different song was used in the US cut of the film. In the States, the moment is soundtracked by Kelly Clarkson’s ‘The Trouble With Love Is’ instead.
It’s hard to believe now, but critics weren’t very kind to the film when it came out in 2003. Roger Ebert said: “It feels a little like a gourmet meal that turns into a hot-dog eating contest”, while the Observer’s Phillip French described it as “disconcertingly lubricious”. Time Out meanwhile gave it both barrels calling it “an embarrassment, an overdrawn rom-com gone very wrong”, dismissing it as “shameless yuletide schmaltz.” Yes, but that’s why we love it.
Rowan Atkinson’s character Rufus was originally meant to be an “angel of love” appearing in every love story. The plot device was later dropped but not before his name appeared heavily in the film’s pre-promotion. “In the end,” Curtis said in the film’s DVD commentary, “the film turned out so sort of multiplicitous that the idea of introducing an extra layer of supernatural beings was (too much).”
It wasn’t intended to be a Christmas movie
Believe it or not, Richard Curtis never set out to make a Christmas movie. The initial idea was to make an Altman-esque ‘Short Cuts’ style movie, featuring just the best bits from a bunch of love stories, but when he struck upon the idea of making it a festive film “about 30 pages into writing it”, hence why Colin Firth’s stuff is only vaguely Christmassy.
Emma Thompson’s epic feat
The film’s most memorable moment sees Emma Thompson’s Karen break down in tears when she realizes her husband is being unfaithful. The heartbreaking moment had to be shot 12 times in a row, and Emma nailed every single time. “It was an amazing feat of acting,” said Curtis.
When ‘Love Actually’ airs on ABC Family in the States, Martin Freeman and Joanna Page’s porn double sub plot is completely cut to make it more palatable for a family audience.
Richard Curtis cameo
Blink and you’ll miss it, but the film’s writer-director Richard Curtis makes a brief cameo during Peter and Juliet’s wedding. He’s the middle trombonist that pops up during the performance of ‘All You Need Is Love’. We’ve never managed to figure out how you’d manage to sneak a bunch of professional musicians into a wedding, but let’s not pick holes in the plot shall we?
Watch below: The 19 questions everyone asks when they watch ‘Love Actually’…
Image credits: Universal/Giphy