Find out which scene annoyed Alan Rickman — and little Joanna sings “All I Want for Christmas Is You” now, 20 years later!
It’s been 20 years since “Love Actually” was unleashed on the world — and, for star Hugh Grant, filming the movie was a particularly embarrassing fete.
Grant, director Richard Curtis and costars Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon and former child stars Thomas Brodie Sangster and Olivia Olson all sat down with Diane Sawyer for an ABC News special celebrating the film’s big anniversary on Tuesday night, where Grant’s grumpiness took center stage.
“He’s often cranky and unhappy, but he is also the only person in the world who’s never sent me a text that hasn’t made me laugh,” said Curtis when the actor’s temperament came up. “Hugh finds everyone annoying,” joked Thompson, before Grant himself admitted, “I’m not just miserable myself, I like to make everyone around me miserable if I can.”
And if there’s one scene that really made him miserable during filming, it was the Prime Minister’s dance number after standing up to the president of the United States. In fact, Grant simply didn’t want to do it, with Curtis joking the actor probably hoped the director would fall sick and the scene would be scrapped.
“No Englishman can dance when they’re sober at 8 in the morning,” said Grant of the scene. “He was grumpy, but he knew, it was a contractual obligation,” Curtis continued, as Hugh joked, “Contractual guillotine!”
Even the director said the sequence was “agonizingly embarrassing,” as Grant admitted he was “out of rhythm … especially at the beginning when I wiggle my ass.” He added, “To this day, there’s many people, and I agree with them, who think it’s the most excruciating scene ever committed to celluloid. But then some people like it.”
It seems Grant wasn’t totally sold on the film after seeing it for the first time at the premiere either.
“I sat there thinking, ‘God, it’s quite kind of out there, isn’t it?'” recalled Thompson. “And then Hugh came up behind me as we were walking out and said, ‘Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that the most psychotic thing we’ve ever been in?'”
“Did I say that?” asked Hugh with a laugh after being confronted with his alleged past comments. “Well, it is a bit psychotic! Like I said, it’s Richard on steroids. When he writes about love, he means it and that is quite rare.”
Grant’s trademark deadpans continued toward the end of the special, as the cast members were asked to finish the phrase “Love actually is …” His response: “Dead. I don’t see any romance, anywhere. Even in the cities where you can guarantee to see couples snogging in the streets, Paris, Rome, they’re just staring at their phone, eating.”
While most of the special was a celebration of the film, director Curtis was also asked if there was anything he regrets about the movie, especially after so many societal shifts when it comes to representation and conversations around workplace romance and harassment.
“There are things that you would change, but thank God society is changing. So my film is bound in some moments to feel out of date,” he said, before Sawyer asked if there was anything in particular that made him “wince” now. “There are things about the film — the lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid.”
“There are three plots that have bosses and people who work for them,” he added.
Other tidbits gleaned from the hour-long anniversary special:
– Keira Knightley told Curtis she didn’t think her next film — “Pirates of the Caribbean” — was “gonna work,” because “it’s a pirate film and they always fail.”
– Alan Rickman was annoyed filming the shopping scene opposite Rowan Atkinson, who Curtis said would do “11 minute takes” while “poor Alan” stood there frustrated.
– Laura Linney’s storyline was inspired by Curtis’ own experience with his sister, who had a history of mental illness.
– Both Linney and costar Rodrigo Santoro were “broken hearted” when they filmed together, said the “Ozark” star. “I got in the car, he slumped in the car like, ‘Laura, she broke up with me,'” she recalled. “I was like, ‘Guess what? Me too. Guess what we get to do all day long? We get to make each other feel better.’ We’re comforting each other in a way and it was very sweet.”
– Olivia Olson, who played Joanna, still sings and performed a rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” 20 years later (Video in Part 5, above). She also revealed she still has her script from filming, signed by the entire cast.
– And, lastly, police “abruptly” shut down filming of the special while Sawyer interviewed Sangster in a park. At one point, a producer interrupted and told the pair, “The police say we don’t have the proper permit and they’re going to arrest us.” Sawyer’s reaction: “Now we run!”
Watch the entire special in the six videos embedded in this article!