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It's hard to believe it's been over 13 years since Love Actually came along and changed Christmas movies forever — yet here we are, and even after all this time, the heartwarming and incredibly cheesy movie still holds up. So, in honor of this cinematic masterpiece, here are just a few fun facts about Love Actually that you might not have known, even if you've watched it a million times.
1. Olivia Olson (who plays Sam's crush, Joanna) was such an incredible singer that the director had to edit her voice to make it sound more childlike. That's right: As jaw-dropping as Olivia's voice was in the film, it's even more impressive in real life. When she went in to record her cover of "All I Want For Christmas Is You," the producers originally set aside two days so that she could get it right. Instead, they ended up recording her practice run only to realize it was "too good" to be believable. They then asked her to "do it a little less good (opens in new tab)" the second time around, and ended up using that — but because director/writer Richard Curtis thought it might still sound fake, he asked his sound editor to add in some breaths to make it more "realistic."
2. The actor who played Colin Frissell wasn't paid for the scene where he gets seduced by three American girls. According to IMDb (opens in new tab), actor Kris Marshall returned his pay check for the day because "he had such a great time having three girls undress him for 21 takes, that he was willing to do it for free."
3. It wasn't just flirting: Alan Rickman's character "definitely had an affair" with his secretary. Just to further destroy your heart, Curtis' wife Emma Freud revealed during a 2015 live-tweet that Harry and Mia didn't just engage in some very inappropriate flirting: They had a full-blown affair.
@carlotta429 DEFINITELY had an affair. i begged richard just to make it a flirtation, but no. the whole way.December 13, 2015
A deleted scene from the movie also shows Mia more explicitly discussing her intentions for her boss.
4. However, Harry and Karen stay together. In the same 2015 live-tweet, Freud also revealed that — despite the film's ambiguity on the subject — Harry and Karen do end up staying together in the end. However, "home isn't as happy as it once was."
5. The opening and closing scenes feature real people reuniting with their loved ones at the airport. No actors here! The scenes were shot using hidden cameras — so yes, love, actually, is all around.
6. There's a very sneaky reason why Colin Firth's character was named Jamie. And by sneaky, I mean petty AF.
Richard only called colin firth's character 'jamie' so the kids could say 'I hate uncle jamie'. His brother is called jamie. #LoveActuallyDecember 13, 2015
7. Hugh Grant really didn't want to do that dance routine. Contrary to how pleased the Prime Minister looked while dancing along to "Jump For My Love," Grant allegedly tried to put off filming the scene for as long as possible — because he absolutely hated it.
8. Rowan Atkinson's character was originally supposed to be a Christmas angel. Arguably, he ended up being one either way — but in the film's DVD commentary, Curtis revealed it was meant to be much more literal. In fact, Rufus was originally going to evaporate after helping Sam at the airport.
"But in the end, the film turned out so sort of multiplicitous that the idea of introducing an extra layer of supernatural beings was [too much]," Curtis said.
In addition, Freud claims Rufus being an angel is the original reason why the character took so long wrapping Harry's gift for Mia: He wanted to prevent him from giving it.
Originally Rowan's character over-wrapped the gift on purpose to stop Alan rickman being able to buy the necklace. Because he was an angel.December 13, 2015
9. Andrew Lincoln wrote all of his own signs for the scene where his character professes his love to Juliet (a.k.a., Keira Knightley). "It's funny, because the art department did it, and then I said, 'Well, can I do it?' because I like to think that my handwriting is really good," he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
To me, your handwriting is perfect, Andrew Lincoln.
10. The lake where Jamie and Aurelia jump in to save his writing was actually only 18 inches deep (opens in new tab). Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz were only pretending to swim, and had to do the whole scene on their knees.
11. Speaking of Aurelia, it took over 45 minutes to decide what color her underwear should be. According to Mental Floss (opens in new tab), 20 sets of bras and panties were considered, and "what she wore beneath her cozy sweater was a major matter of debate that involved a lengthy meeting with [the] producers."
12. Thomas Brodie-Sangster learned how to play drums for the film. Just like his character Sam, the Game of Thrones actor had no idea how to play the drums, and ended up learning with some help from his dad. He still plays to this day (opens in new tab)!
13. The word "actually" is said 23 times (opens in new tab) throughout the film. Who knew Love Actually was secretly the inspiration for mansplainers everywhere?
14. Emma Thompson wore a "fat suit" for the film. According to IMDb (opens in new tab), they wanted to "make her appear heavier" since she is naturally very thin.
15. One of the characters was based on the film's director/writer. While he had no idea for most of filming, Lincoln revealed in an interview with Screener (opens in new tab), "Halfway through filming [Love Actually], Richard's partner Emma (Sigmund Freud's great-granddaughter) came over and whispered in my ear, 'You know, you're playing Richard.' I said, 'What?' And she said, 'Yeah. This is the closest to Richard that he's ever written.' That made it a double honor, because Richard is such a wonderful, extraordinary human being."
16. The Prime Minister and Sam are related IRL. Grant and Brodie-Sangster are second cousins, and would sometimes joke about it on set.
17. There were originally 14 separate love stories in the film, but it got cut down to 10 in the final version. According to Buzzfeed (opens in new tab), two of the storylines that had been cut had already been filmed, including one "about an African couple supporting each other through a famine" and one about "a stern headmistress who was nursing her lesbian partner through cancer."
18. Martin Freeman filmed his "sex" scenes with "a little sock on his willy." (No further comment necessary.)
Just incase you were worried, martin freeman had a little sock on his willy. #LoveActuallyDecember 13, 2015
19. It wasn't originally an ensemble film. In an interview with Vulture (opens in new tab), Curtis explained that he had actually written two separate films — one centered around Hugh Grant's story in Love Actually and the other around Colin Firth's — before he decided to combine them together.
"I'd worked out whole films on those subjects, and then I thought, Oh, I don't want to do these because they are just turning out to be a shape I know," he said. "And I said, 'I'd be more interested in writing a film about love and what love sort of means, and how, you know, about the subject rather than one example of a story about that subject.'"
Bless the movie gods he did.
20. Like you, Laura Linney also wishes her character hadn't answered the phone while hooking up with Karl. When asked what one decision she'd change of any of the characters she's played, she said it was an "easy (opens in new tab)" choice.
21. And depending on what country you watch the movie, the song Sarah and Karl dance to at the Christmas party is different. In the U.K., it's Sugababes' "Too Lost In You," and in the U.S., it's Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is."
22. Quite a few actors in the film were essentially cast before they'd auditioned. This includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Claudia Schiffer, and Martine McCutcheon, who plays Natalie. In fact, her character was originally named Martine (opens in new tab) — but they swapped it out for Natalie before she auditioned so she wouldn't know she was a shoo-in.
23. There's a reason why Liam Neeson's character Daniel was constantly carrying a toothpick in the film. Multiple sources report that the actor had just quit smoking, and used toothpicks as a "stand-in" for cigarettes.
24. It originally wasn't meant to be a Christmas movie. "I'm so surprised and delighted by the Love Actually thing, because when I first started the movie it wasn't set at Christmas then I love Christmas movies so I thought I'll make a Christmas movie, but it didn't occur to me that it might be one of those Christmas movies where people actually watch it again and again and it's a delightful surprise to me," Curtis told VH1 (opens in new tab).
Gina Mei is a writer and editor based out of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing, reading, and lost in an Internet vortex, she can usually be found petting the nearest dog.
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