TV & Movies

Love Actually Director Shares Regret Over A Controversial Joke

He also touched upon Notting Hill’s lack of diversity.

Originally Published: 
Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in 'Love Actually'
Peter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock

Love Actually, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’s Diary remain some of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time, but their writer and director, Richard Curtis, has shared regret over some of the films’ controversial jokes and lack of diversity.

Curtis sat down with his daughter, activist and writer Scarlett Curtis, to discuss his past works at the Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. During their conversation recorded by Today, Scarlett brought attention to a joke featured in 2003’s Love Actually relating to a character’s weight.

In the festive rom-com, the character of Natalie (portrayed by Martine McCutcheon) is referred to as being “massive” and having “tree trunk thighs.”

“I think I was behind, you know, behind the curve,” Richard explained. “Those jokes aren’t any longer funny, so I don’t feel I was malicious at the time, but I think I was unobservant and not as, you know, as clever as I should have been.”

Richard Regrets Lack Of Diversity

As noted by his daughter, the 1999 rom-com Notting Hill is set within a diverse West London district. However, with a cast fronted by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, this is not reflected in the film.

Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley in Love ActuallyPeter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock

“I came from a very un-diverse school and a bunch of university friends,” Richard explained at the event.

“(With) Notting Hill, I think that I hung on to the diversity issue, to the feeling that I wouldn’t know how to write those parts. And I think I was just sort of stupid and wrong about that.”

Richard went on to share that along with the film’s casting director and producers, he didn’t consider the film’s lack of diversity during production, admitting that he “just didn’t look outwards enough.”

He Regrets An Iconic Love Actually Scene

In an annotated version of the Love Actually script published by The Sunday Times, Richard also expressed regret over one memorable scene that sees the character of Mark (Andrew Lincoln) declare his love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) using handwritten cue cards.

“I came up with four things Mark could do as his big gesture,” Richards recalls of the scene. “The people in the office chose their favorite and I went for it. I wonder: do we all regret the choice now?”

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