13 Things You Probably Never Noticed About 'The Holiday'

by Emily Mae Czachor
Columbia Pictures

If you're a sucker for a good ol' holiday rom-com (and, the best of us are) then you're probably already well-acquainted with the mushy, Christmas-themed extraordinaire that is — you guessed it — The Holiday. (We're going for straight and to the point this season, folks.) But, even for those die-hard enthusiasts planning to curl up with the film for a repeat go-round this year, The Holiday still touts a handful of surprises. As it turns out, there are probably quite a few things you didn't notice about The Holiday during your first couple of viewings. You've just got to know where to look for 'em.

In case you're in the market for a refresher, here's a quick film recap: Set contemporaneously in Los Angeles and Surrey (a picture-perfect cottage town along the English countryside), The Holiday is writer-director Nancy Meyers' house-swapping classic starring a stacked cast of headliners, the likes of whom include: Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, and Jude Law. Winslet and Diaz star as Iris and Amanda, respectively — two women who, despite the several thousand miles that separate them, are similarly dissatisfied with the current state of their lives. The natural solution? Temporarily swap homes — their joint, stopgap means of quelling their respective heartaches before careening into the holiday season.

So, to ensure that your 50th viewing (or 60th, or 70th — to each their own) is just as enchanting as the first, here are some things you probably never noticed about The Holiday:

1. The House-Swapping Website Is Legit

Believe it or not, the fateful site that Iris and Amanda use to swap lives is real. And, quite appropriately, it's called Homeexchange.com.

2. Kate Winslet & Rufus Sewell Are Exes IRL

Did you know that Winslet and Sewell were lovers IRL during a brief, three-month stint in the mid-‘90s, according to The Telegraph?

3. Winslet Loved Working With Jack Black

"Trust me, it was not difficult to fall in love with Jack Black. At all," Winslet said during a 2012 joint interview with Diaz for Moviefone.

4. Some Well-Placed Foreshadowing

When Iris first arrives at Amanda's stately LA home, she selects a film to watch before Miles — Jack Black's character — arrives. The movie she picks is called Punch-Drunk Love, a 2002 rom-com about an American man who falls for a British woman.

5. Dustin Hoffman Makes A Cameo Appearance

By decidedly fortuitous happenstance, Hoffman was simply taking a drive past the video store where The Holiday crew had set up shop, according to IMDb. Curious about the swaths of cameras outside, the actor wandered directly onto the film set. And, since he and Meyers were already well-acquainted, they drummed up a scene that ended up making it into the movie.

6. Most Of That Video Shop Scene Was Improvised

According to IndieLondon, director Nancy Meyers said that, while she and Black had previously talked through the surface-level nuances of the scene, when it came time to actually film, the actor-comedian (who Meyers poached for The Holiday after watching his knockout performance in School of Rock) mostly took matters into his own hands. And, in this case, that meant a little freestyle doo-wap. "But of course, I loved that," Meyers said. "It's what makes him really great."

7. The Film Crew Removed All Of Winslet & Black's Movies From The Shop

According to the film's DVD commentary, the crew stripped that video shop of all Black and Winslet films. (Not such an easy feat, considering their respective resumes.)

And for those not in the know: "brill" is essentially the uber-chill English slang version of "really cool." (Otherwise known as the truncated, mono-syllabic iteration of "brilliant.")

8. Winslet's Happy Dance Was Also Impromptu

Iris' happy dance (you know the one — when she first arrives in LA) was also totally improvised, according to Cosmopolitan UK.

9. The Feels During That Heart-Wrenching Christmas Party Scene Were Real

According to the film's DVD commentary, the scene took so many takes to properly film that Winslet reportedly dropped to her knees and mock-prayed to the reigning cinema deities for a perfect final shot.

10. The Snow Was Also Real

According to IndieLondon, it snowed three times in Surrey (the sleepy English countryside town where Amanda travels to hole up in Iris' cottage) during the week of filming. This came as quite a surprise to the crew, who had long been prepared to recreate the winter wonderland of their imaginings via a decidedly less organic Plan B: snow machines.

11. Cary Grant Isn't From Surrey

The old Hollywood, English-American actor was actually from Bristol — about two hours west of the sweet countryside town where Iris' cottage was located.

12. Amanda's Sunny SoCal Dream House Is Real

... Well, sort of, according to The Telegraph. The sleek, multi-story home (which pays homage to the Spanish colonial revival-style architecture that cropped up across SoCal in the 1920s) is definitely a bona fide piece of real estate. The exterior, at least, is a veritable residence just 12 miles outside of LA in San Marino, California.

13. But The Interior Was On A Set

According to IMDb, the interior rooms that comprise Amanda's dreamy, sun-soaked manor are actually just unbelievably well-manicured set pieces, built onto a sound stage without exterior walls, a roof, or any variety of functional household appliances. Still, the renovations cost approximately $1 million.

So, there you have it — The Holiday's best-kept secrets. Will your next viewing session reap a newly-minted bout of surprises? Only one way to find out.