Are you feeling the love yet?
Just ahead of the highly anticipated U.S. debut of the 10-minute sequel to Love Actually — which premiered last week in the U.K. in honor of Red Nose Day — the original stars are spilling secrets about the beloved 2003 romantic comedy. (The mini-sequel will air in the U.S. on May 25 as part of NBC’s Red Nose Day telecast.)
Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Andrew Lincoln and more members of the cast sat down with Entertainment Weekly for its newest issue to reflect on some of their favorite behind-the-scene memories from the film.
Here are six things you might not have known about Love Actually. (For more revelations from the past four decades of entertainment, visit ew.com/untoldstories.)
1. Firth and Grant almost switched roles
After Grant pushed back on playing the prime minister, director Richard Curtis considered swapping Firth into the role. “I seem to remember Richard Curtis wondering whether mine and Hugh’s roles should be switched,” said Firth.
But eventually, Grant and Curtis came to an agreement. “He always thought I was making him too sweet, with the dancing and all,” said Curits. “I just wanted him not to be a bore.”
2. Neeson had to fight to play the role of Daniel
It’s hard to imagine Neeson as anyone else but Daniel, the film’s recently widowed single father, but that wasn’t always the plan.
“I was originally asked to do the Alan Rickman part,” revealed Neeson. “But I read it and thought I’d be more suited for the scenes with the kid. Thomas [Brodie-Sangster] and I felt like we were the stars of the film.”
3. Lincoln feared his iconic handwritten card scene would come across as “creepy”
One of the film’s most memorable scenes comes when Mark (Lincoln) declares his unrequited love to his best friend’s wife (Keira Knightley) by playing a recording of Christmas carols outside her house while silently holding up handwritten cards that proclaim his true feelings to her. While the scene has become a pop-culture touchstone, Lincoln was weary of how the moment would come across.
“My big scene with the cards in the doorway felt so easy. I just had to hold cards and be in love with Keira Knightley,” he said. “But I kept saying to Richard, ‘Are you sure I’m not going to come off as a creepy stalker?’ ”
But Curtis never had a doubt. “Retrospectively, I’m aware that Andrew’s role was on the edge. But I think because Andrew was so openhearted and guileless, we knew we’d get away with it.”
4. Emma Thompson had to film her heartwrenching bedroom scene nine times
“We shot the scene with Emma Thompson weeping in the bedroom nine times, three times at each size: three close-ups, three middle shots, three wide. And she did it perfectly all nine times,” said Curtis. “And look at how Emma touches her palms to her face and how she taps the bed. That is all, all, all Emma.”
5. The film opened the door for many members of the cast
Both Bill Nighy and Martine McCutcheon admit the film boosted their star power.
“After the film’s release, I didn’t have to audition anymore,” said Nighy. “Any actor will tell you, that was like all my Christmases rolled into one.”
And McCutcheon said the film had a “powerful” effect on her longtime fans. “Before Love Actually, my fans felt like I was their friend. But afterwards, I noticed people felt more trepidation about approaching me. That was the effect that the film had. It was so powerful.”
From Coinage: Top 5 Most Expensive Movie Collectibles
6. Love Actually has forever left a profound mark on the cast
“It’s 14 years ago now and we’ve all lived lives. Some of us have died. Oh, my dear old friend Alan Rickman, God rest him,” said Neeson of the late actor, who died in January after a battle with cancer. “Some have gotten divorced. I’ve lost my wife. 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.”