It might be only one-tenth the length of 2003’s beloved rom-com Love Actually, but the upcoming short-film sequel is still cause for celebration — and a great cause. The highly anticipated Red Nose Day Actually (see the trailer above) airs on Thursday, May 25, as part of NBC’s Red Nose Day Special fundraiser, which begins at 10 p.m. ET.
As part of the star-packed charity drive, which raises money for disadvantaged children, the original Love Actually‘s writer-director Richard Curtis has assembled much of his cast for Red Nose Day Actually. Curtis is the co-founder of Comic Relief, the charity that has organized Red Nose Day to the tune of more than $1 billion in donations.
Included in the 15-minute film are check-ins with Liam Neeson and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, back on the Thames park bench; Keira Knightley, again answering her door to Andrew Lincoln and his cue cards; Rowan Atkinson as the world’s most fastidious gift-wrapper; Bill Nighy as rock idiot Billy Mack; Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz and a car full of their kids; Laura Linney as the lovesick Sarah, now home in the U.S.; plus cameos by Patrick Dempsey and Kate Moss.
In the film’s funniest and most poignant segment, Hugh Grant, back as the U.K. prime minister, laments the state of the world: “Usain Bolt has run his last Olympics, the Harry Potter films are finished, Piers Morgan is still alive.” However, he adds, “Metallica’s album is an absolute cracker. And on a deeper level, I’m optimistic. Wherever you see tragedy, you see bravery, too. Wherever you see ordinary people in need, you see extraordinary people come to their aid.”
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When the short film originally aired two months ago as a part of the U.K.’s Red Nose Day, England was reeling from the terrorist attack at Westminster Palace, which had claimed the lives of five people two days before the charity special on TV. Viewers responded to the timeliness of Grant’s speech.
After Monday’s attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester — and stories of both law enforcement and civilians rushing toward the scene to help — Grant’s words carry a real-world meaning once again.
In EW’s Oral History of the original Love Actually, Neeson made reference to the film in regards to the lives of its cast members.
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“It’s 14 years ago now and we’ve all lived lives,” Neeson said. “Some of us have died. Oh, my dear old friend Alan Rickman, God rest him. Some have gotten divorced. I’ve lost my wife. [Natasha Richardson died after a skiing accident in 2009.] And, oh, sure, plenty of times I’ve thought about this film and my own life. Love Actually, that’s the way it is. That’s the tapestry of life.”
But on a lighter note, in regard to Red Nose Day Actually, Curtis tells EW, “It’s been delightful to revisit these characters and see the cast again, with everyone looking a bit older — apart from Hugh Grant, of course.”