8 Wonderful, Wild & Weird Facts You Didn’t Know About Love Actually

That cringey card scene could have somehow been even cringier.

'Love, Actually' (2003). Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Is Love Actually actually a good movie? Depends on who you ask. The 2003 film definitely has its haters, but there are also diehard fans who swear by its convoluted storyline, saccharine dialogue, and its relentlessly feel-good vibe. It’s this kind of division that makes Love Actually one of the most talked-about Christmas movies of all time.

Culture critic Scott Meslow writes all about the phenomenon surrounding Love Actually (and a handful of other iconic rom-coms, including Bridget Jones’ Diary, Pretty Woman, and more) in his new book From Hollywood with Love: The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of the Romantic Comedy, now available from Dey Street Books. In an entire chapter dedicated to veteran screenwriter Richard Curtis’ (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill) directorial debut, Meslow breaks down what makes Love Actually so appealing, despite its hackneyed tropes, senseless characters, and laundry list of problematic narratives that would never fly today (a Prime Minister falling in love with his junior staffer? More than one lobster at the birth of Jesus?!)

But there’s a lot more to this movie than multiple crustaceans at the nativity pageant. Below are eight wonderful, wild, and kind of weird facts you probably didn’t know about Love Actually, including the additional storylines that didn’t make the final cut and how that cringey card scene (“To me, you are perfect”) could have somehow been even cringier.

Richard Curtis was inspired to write Love Actually by some not-so-romantic events.

Terrorism isn’t typically the go-to inspiration for a feel-good movie, but it was for Love, Actually. Dropping in theaters only two years after September 11, 2001, the film makes a reference to the attacks while the opening credits are still rolling (“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all messages of love,” Hugh Grant’s David says in voiceover.)

“The decision to invoke 9/11 with no warning, just two years after it happened, would be a bold swing in any movie — let alone a romantic comedy aimed at mass audiences that otherwise makes very few claims to realism,” writes Meslow. “Love Actually is rooted in a world that was already starting to look alien when the movie hit theaters in 2003.” Indeed, Meslow later mentions how increased global security made it impossible for people to greet others directly at the gate, making this touching detail unrealistic by the time the movie reached theaters.

The “arrivals gate” montage was real footage of loved ones reuniting.

Speaking of, that opening montage — in which travelers excitedly greet their loved ones at Heathrow’s arrivals gate — was authentic. When filming a scene for Mr. Bean at the airport six years earlier, Curtis was inspired by witnessing such earnest joy, so he shot documentary footage of non-actors reuniting, and then rushed over to ask for permission to use it.

“I suddenly saw all this extraordinary emotion,” Curtis says in From Hollywood With Love. “And I thought, That is the proof that there is so much overflowing love in the world and it’s absolutely core to people’s lives.”

There were four (!!) more storylines that were cut from the final edit.

One of the things people either love or hate about Love Actually is its many overlapping storylines — 10 of them, to be exact. But it turns out four more stories were in Curtis’ original script, two of which were actually filmed but ultimately scrapped. One of them was shot on-location in Kenya, featuring two women trading stories about love. The other scene was of a steely primary school headmistress who only becomes sympathetic when she’s shown caring for her dying (female) partner.

While 10 interlocking stories is already, by some accounts, too much, scrapping the scenes that feature the only women of color and queer characters worked against the film in retrospect. “Curtis may have intended to explore love in all its forms, but in the end, he decided to cut the lesbian couple and the African women instead of the porno stand-ins or the British guy who’s horny for Americans,” writes Meslow.

Hugh Grant really didn’t want to do that dance number to the Pointer Sisters.


Hugh Grant is rom-com royalty, but his role in Love Actually is more parliamentary. As the Prime Minister of England, Grant oozes his usual charm as the “good-looking neoliberal.” And of course, “everyone loves him.” That’s why he was so reluctant to dance up and down the halls of 10 Downing Street to “Jump (For My Love)” by the Pointer Sisters — he thought it would make him look “un-prime ministerial.”

While it’s already been widely reported how much Grant hates that scene, Meslow’s book offers more to the story. “You know what it’s like. To dance at all, you’ve got to be quite drunk, or by yourself in your pants in front of the mirror,” Grant reveals in From Hollywood With Love. “The idea of having to do it stone-cold sober, in front of a film set, was awful. And every time Richard [Curtis] said, ‘I think we should rehearse the dance scene,’ I found a reason not to do it.”

Unable to put it off any longer, the scene was finally shot on the last day of shooting, much to Grant’s dismay. Ironically, Meslow writes, “he got a little too into it, singing along in a way that made it much harder for Curtis to piece all the different takes together.” Cheeky revenge, perhaps?

The infamous “To me, you are perfect” card scene could’ve been even creepier than what was filmed.

Unlike Grant’s begrudging shimmying, which turned out to be a hit with audiences, a scene that probably should have been cut is when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) confesses his unrequited love for his best friend’s wife Juliet (Keira Knightley) silently via written statements on poster boards after showing up on her doorstep. Yikes.

Turns out this wasn’t the only way Curtis envisioned Mark’s grandiose declaration of love. Another option was filling the courtyard outside Juliet’s home entirely with roses, though Curtis ended up going with the poster boards, Meslow writes, because of a straw poll. Apparently, Curtis asked the women in his office to vote for the best choice; they chose the card scene because the other options were somehow even creepier.

Rowan Atkinson’s character was supposed to have an otherworldly arc.

Curtis is loyal to the actors he loves, so it’s no surprise that Rowan Atkinson (aka the Mr. Bean) appears as Rufus, a minor character who simultaneously shows up at both the right and wrong time as the infuriatingly slow shop clerk who nearly foils Harry’s (Alan Rickman) plan to buy an expensive necklace for someone who isn’t his wife Karen (Emma Thompson).

But there was supposed to be more to Atkinson’s character, particularly a mystical quality that could’ve changed the entire ethos of Love Actually. Meslow writes: “In a nod to Christmas classics like A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, Curtis originally intended to reveal that Rufus (Rowan Atkinson) … was an angel who was trying to help the characters he encountered.”

That “Both Sides Now” scene was all Emma Thompson.


Love, Actually may be unabashedly cheerful, but there are also scenes that get achingly real very fast, like when Karen figures out that Harry is having an affair. When opening a gift from Harry thinking it’s the necklace (in a similarly-shaped parcel) she previously found in his coat pocket, she’s instead been given Joni Mitchell’s 2000 album Both Sides Now (“To continue your emotional education,” Harry tells her.) In one of the film’s unironically powerful sequences, Karen discreetly excuses herself and quietly cries in their bedroom as she realizes the necklace was for someone else.

While Curtis is a veteran screenwriter, he showed his greener side to filmmaking when directing this scene. According to Meslow, the scene “asks a lot” of Thompson — she experienced similar heartbreak years earlier when her then-husband, Kenneth Branagh, had an on-set affair with Helena Bonham Carter — and Curtis “didn’t come armed with answers.” However, like the pro she is, Thompson nailed all 12 takes. “I just wrote that she goes upstairs, puts on the record, and lets the emotion show. Everything in that scene is just Emma,” Curtis says.

Richard Curtis really believes that “love is all around.”


When it comes to mushy, swooning love, no one is a bigger idealist than Curtis, who scoffs at cynics who write off his romantic comedies as unrealistic cash cows. “I really do believe that there is a tremendous amount of optimism, goodness and love in the world and that it is under-represented,” Curtis says. “But if you do feel it and experience it, then you should write about it.”