Citizens in the U.K. are on the verge of the biggest — and funniest — biennial comedy show charity in the world. Red Nose Day, cofounded and organized by writer-director Richard Curtis, kicks off Friday on the BBC with a full seven-and-a-half-telethon hours of comedy. This edition will feature all stripes of playful fun (including a parody of La La Land‘s opening song “Another Day of Sun,” set in the perpetually cloudy London), but the centerpiece is obviously Curtis’s short film sequel to his most beloved film, Love Actually, entitled Red Nose Day Actually.
EW has been on the inside of the Love Actually reunion — and you’ll be seeing a cast group shot and an oral history of the original movie in our upcoming issue, on stands next Friday. For now, allow us to tease you with the film’s naughtiest character. Check out this exclusive image of Bill Nighy as the immortal rocker Billy Mack, still looking fabulous after all these years.
Nighy, 67, chatted with EW about playing the role, which won him a BAFTA and turned him into a full-fledged star.
“I used to be in a band when I was young and I was terribly self-conscious,” Nighy says. “Back then, I had to throw shapes that might suggest I was good in bed or something. Which counted me out. But then I got older and it turns out that people are really affectionate about old rockers. Suddenly it was so ironic. Then it becomes good fun, because it’s so stupid, an older man doing lively gyrations in front of beautiful woman. And then you can enjoy yourself, because you’re not a serious rock god but a rock idiot.”
Nighy continues, “It turns out that all those years of reading New Musical Express, Rolling Stone, and Melody Maker counted for something. You’re supposed to stop reading NME when you’re 42. I carried on until I was in my late 50s. I used to be able to tell you the base player in every band on earth. And the second drummer. I kind of felt familiar with the character.”
The actor also commented on how Love Actually changed his career in such a seismic way. “I didn’t have to audition anymore. In England, I’d had a very familiar English career. But then after the film came out, I’d go to meet with producers and I couldn’t work out the vibe, because suddenly they were persuading me to be things, rather than me begging — while pretending not to beg. It was a different dynamic. And the audiences might almost be able to pronounce my name.” (The “Y” in “Nighy” is silent — yes, his name is pronounced exactly the same as our very own Bill Nye the Science Guy.)
From Coinage: See Where 6 Stars Were Before They Were Famous
Curtis spoke to EW about the joy of working with Nighy on the Love Actually short film — and the irony of what the actor was uneasy about doing as the famously rambunctious rock lord. “I showed Bill the script and he said, ‘Absolutely fine,’ but there was one joke in there, when he’s asked again about the best shag he’s ever had, and he was a bit unsure about the name I’d come up with for him.”
You’ll have to wait to see Red Nose Day Actually to hear who that person was. And for American audiences, the wait is painfully even longer. Red Nose Day, which has raised more than $1 billion to fight social issues in the U.K., America, and around the world, will premiere on NBC on May 25.
Stay tuned to EW for much more Love Actually sequel news.