It seems that most households have at least a couple of DVD copies of Love Actually, and for fans, it's a tradition to re-watch annually to develop new opinions about the characters in this beloved film. That's what makes the Red Nose Day Love Actually sequel such a fun treat for the middle of May — the weather may be warm, but a dose of love and holiday cheer is always welcome, especially when it's for a good cause. In an interview with Bustle, Love Actually writer and director Richard Curtis discussed Red Nose Day Actually, the behind-the-scenes secrets of filming a reunion special, which characters you'll be happy for, and who might disappoint you.
"Rowan Atkinson's character certainly hasn't been promoted," Curtis jokes about where these characters have ended up 15 years after the original film. "I mean, [people will be] shocked that Hugh Grant is still Prime Minister."
Red Nose Day, as Curtis puts it, is his "other job." In addition to being a filmmaker, he co-founded Comic Relief and launched the poverty-fighting event Red Nose Day in the United Kingdom first. Visit the Red Nose Day website, buy yourself a nose at Walgreen's, and grab a Love Actually reunion tee shirt — it's for charity, after all.
As it turns out, a Love Actually reunion was the perfect fit for this event at this time, in the director's opinion.
"I realized that the kind of optimism of the original film," Curtis says, "and the hope and that sort of sense of love and kindness was actually relevant. Particularly in the speech that [Hugh Grant's Prime Minister] makes at the end. He's sort of making the point of Red Nose Day."
As bleak as things sometimes look, all over America and all over the world, volunteers are helping impoverished kids and preventable diseases are "on the run," Curtis says. Love actually is all around.
As for the the highly anticipated sequel that airs May 25 on NBC and revisits almost all the old players (and adds some new ones to the mix), here's what Curtis is ready to reveal:
1. A Midnight Screening Helped Spark The Idea
At a midnight screening of Love Actually on 6th avenue. 1st time richard has seen the movie in a cinema since the premiere.— emma freud (@emmafreud) December 13, 2015
Expecting a Rocky Horror type of fan fest, in 2015 Curtis and his family attended a midnight viewing party in New York to revisit the film — that ended up being a more private affair. Besides them, there were "two people asleep at the front and two people kissing in the back," he remembers. However, revisiting these characters that way got the ball rolling.
2. Jamie Never Passed His Language Class
"Colin Firth hasn't learned how to speak Portuguese properly," Curtis reveals, predicting that fans will be both shocked and disappointed by this. "I think that's shameful," he says. "Maybe that's the takeaway. If you've got a wife from a foreign country, for heaven's sake learn the language!"
Personally, I don't want to reveal how this comes into play in the sequel, it will spoil a joke, but be ready to shake your head in dismay.
3. Everyone's Changed Less Than You Think
"The interesting thing weirdly," he says, "is how little people do change in 15 years. It was actually encouraging for an old man like me." Of course, Sam and Joanna were "tinies" then and are adults now. That's a change. On the other hand, Curtis laughs that Liam Neeson has actually gotten younger — which, fair.
4. The Cards Are More Of A Framing Device
The toughest storyline to revisit was Mark and Juliet's," Curtis says, "because why in the world would he be standing outside the door with a bunch of cards 15 years later? I sort of found a way around that by making it a meta-prelude where the cards are simply suggesting that we go back and revisit the film."
5. One Character Gets A New Happy Ending
"I've longed to make Laura happy," he says, referring to Sarah in the original film. As someone who watches Love Actually year after year, hoping that just once Laura Linney's character won't send Karl away — I appreciate this.
6. Patrick Dempsey's Character Is Cryptic
His character and scene, which was shot in Curtis' front room, has his character "on his own, even though not on his own." The new addition won't feel odd, though, promise.
7. Martin Freeman Didn't Want To Miss Out
"Little did we know that our naked man would become both the Hobbit and Dr. Watson, as it were," says Curtis. While Freeman isn't in the special, he did participate in the reunion aspect of it all.
Though the original and revival feel like group efforts to the , neither actually included a lot of together time. The stories are still mostly separate. "We did have a really lovely dinner at the end of the shoot where almost everybody came." Freeman crashed the after party, so to speak. "He couldn't do the shoot, but he said 'I'm not gonna miss the celebration!'"
8. A Longer Version Is Coming, Don't Worry
One cut of Red Nose Day Actually will air on NBC during the special, but a "more completist version" that was too long for television will ultimately come out as well.
Despite the emotional ups and downs of Love Actually, Curtis is ultimately an optimist and hope that audiences enjoy how things have worked out romantically for these characters. The sequel will put some good back in the world — both with heartwarming story and with more funds for Red Nose Day.