21 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets from the Set of ‘Love Actually’

An all-star cast, a heartwarming storyline (or should we say, storylines), Christmas cheer—It’s no wonder the 2003 film is now a modern classic. Plus, we now have a mini sequel to look forward to, slated to air in the U.S. on May 25. Here’s what you didn’t know about your favorite flick.

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It was supposed to be two different movies

BEI/REX/ShutterstockDirector and writer Richard Curtis was writing two separate movies, one about Hugh Grant’s character and one about Colin Firth’s character, but then realized the plots were incredibly similar. So he made the movie we know today.

One working title was “Love Actually Is All Around”

via-imdb.comThe name was taken from the song “Love is All Around,” originally by The Troggs. In 1994, the band Wet Wet Wet released a cover—and it stayed number one on the U.K. charts for 15 weeks. Curtis thought it’d be funny to start Love Actually with this song, especially since it was featured in another film he wrote, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Instead, Bill Nighy’s character, rockstar Billy Mack, remade it as the Christmas song, “Christmas is All Around.” According to IMDB, that holiday tune was actually released in England, in hopes it would be the “Number 1 for Christmas 2003.”

Those airport scenes are real

via-imdb.comThe film’s camera crew spent a week shooting footage at Heathrow airport. When they saw something they liked, they asked the people in the shots for permission to be included in what would be the beginning and final scenes. Anyone who said no probably regrets that decision every day.

Kris Marshall worked for free

Ken-McKayITV/REX/ShutterstockWell, just for one scene. Marshall, who plays desperate-for-love Colin, had such a great time filming the scene where the three Wisconsin girls undress him, he said he’d just do it for free. All 21 takes. So he returned his check for that day.

Colin Firth got a nasty mosquito bite

Matt-Baron_REX_ShutterstockThe lake he and Lucia Moniz (the maid Aurelia) jumped in to save Jamie’s manuscript was infested with mosquitoes, and one bite on his elbow reportedly swelled up to the size of an avocado. Needless to say, he needed medical attention. Maybe he's just one of those people that mosquitoes love.

And about that lake…

via-movieclips.comIt was only 18 inches deep. Firth and Moniz had to kneel and pretend it was really deep. Good acting, right?

The crew took underwear very seriously

via-movieclips.comIt took 45 minutes for Curtis and the production team to decide what color underwear Lucia’s character would wear when she jumps in the lake. (It’s light blue, in case you were wondering.)

Thomas Brodie-Sangster didn’t know how to play drums

via-movieclips.comWho wasn’t proud of Sam for mastering the drums and performing at the school Christmas concert, all to impress his crush Joanna? Turns out, the actor who played Sam had to learn the instrument too. Luckily, his dad (film editor and actor Mark Sangster) taught him how to play after he got cast.

Joanna can really sing

via-movieclips.comYes, actress Olivia Olson did all of her own singing for “All I Want for Christmas Is You” at the school Christmas concert. In fact, Curtis had to edit her vocals to sound more like a kid’s because she sounded so professional.

Emma Thompson wore a fat suit

REX/ShutterstockSince she’s thin in real life, Thompson had to wear a fat suit to look heavier in her role as Karen. Even then, she looked great.

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