Love Actually 2: Behind the scenes gossip from the Comic Relief sequel

It is by far the most eagerly anticipated 12 minutes of TV of the year.

The sequel to Love Actually will be on our screens next week.

Written by Richard Curtis, it stars many of the rom com’s originals including Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley.

The charity sequel catches up with the characters 13 years after the original film to see what they are up to today.

To get you in the mood for love, here is all the gossip from behind the scenes of filming…

The writer

Richard Curtis says he came up with the idea to write a Love Actually sequel after watching the film in a cinema with just NINE people at Christmas.

The British film remains hugely popular, and was voted Britain’s No1 Christmas film, but in New York over the festive period it was not a big draw.

Director Curtis, 60, says he hadn’t seen it for a decade until he went with wife Emma as a Christmas treat from their daughter. Apart from him and his family, there were just a couple of people kissing in the back row and two people dozing at the front.

So he began to think of a new story 13 years on, Red Nose Day Actually.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Richard Curtis and Andrew Lincoln on set
(Photo: @emmafreud/ Twitter)

He said: “I thought I could do a little special of Love Actually set on Red Nose Day. It seemed a good moment.

“Every year Red Nose Day strikes me as a demonstration of the basic generosity of the British public – the basic decency that sees other people’s lives are hard, and wants to help.

“And at this time – when things feel strained, and complicated – it felt like an opportunity to think again whether love still is actually all around.”

He added: “Even though things seem very chaotic, people fundamentally, person-to-person, when faced for the need to be compassionate, are very compassionate.”

Sadly for fans, it will last just 12 minutes in comparison to the original, over two hours long.

Curtis admitted: “You can be sure Bill Nighy’s Billy Mack would still be releasing dodgy records and Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister would still be doing a dodgy dance.

“And I did want one or two of the couples to have a kid or two – and I did want to see what had happened to Liam Neeson’s son, once he was all grown up.”

Billy Mack

The Mack is back – along with his awful wardrobe. And Bill Nighy’s washed-up rocker seems in need of another big hit.

Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) puts his feet up
(Photo: Comic Relief Ltd)
Bill Nighy is back as veteran rocker Billy Mack

The 67-year-old says of the character, who had a surprise hit in the original movie: “I know it’s disappointing, but there wasn’t one person I was trying to emulate in playing Billy Mack.

“You’re supposed to give up reading NME when you’re 39 and I gave up at 54. I was obsessed with rock stars, so my character is an amalgam of several.”

All grown up

Liam Neeson kept his coat from the original and wore it again for new scenes shot with his now grown up on-screen son Sam, played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

Sam, grieving the loss of his mum, broke hearts in the famous bench scene when he reveals he is suffering the “total agony of being in love” with Joanna (Olivia Olson).

Liam Neeson and future GoT star Thomas Brodie Sangster
(Photo: Copyright: 2003 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Neeson and Brodie Sangster reprise their roles in the sequel

Olivia also returns, and although she and Sam were not holding hands, fans hope they have stayed together.

At the time an unknown 13-year-old actor, Thomas has since starred in other big hits including the megahit Game Of Thrones.

The PM and the PA

Hugh’s Prime Minister David is still in power, somewhat incredibly given the new sequel is over a decade after the original.

Richard Curtis, tweeted a series of messages and images from the set, including one of Martine McCutcheon as Natalie which says: “Our pm is still married. And she’s still lovely.”

Another shows 56-year-old Grant speaking from a podium and says: “And here he is. Our Prime Minister. Again. And still hot.”

Curtis, Martine McCutcheon and Hugh Grant
(Photo: emmafreud/Twitter)

In a new press conference scene Hugh is asked about give his verdict on world affairs and insists: “Good’s going to win, I’m actually sure of it.” He also dances again in the sequel.

The fact he is still in power and with Natalie seems something of a shock to Hugh. He joked: “I always assumed that my character was embroiled in a horrible sex scandal. And after a few years in prison he hit the bottle pretty hard. Yes – Martine abandoned him. She turned out to be very shallow.”

In the original Natalie and David got together at a Christmas play and were caught kissing when the curtains went up on the stage unexpectedly.

Martine, 40, and Hugh have stayed in touch since working on the comedy in 2003.

Grant’s character is still PM, remarkably
(Photo: BBC)

“We have this banter” she said. “We’re so different, from such different backgrounds, but it’s why we work. He has a go at me, I have a go at him. He’s lovely, we still DM and text, but I’m so excited to work with him again. I wouldn’t feel right doing it without Hugh.”

In fact the actress said she would have only considered doing the sequel if Hugh was on board too. “When they asked me if I was doing it, I said ‘Is Hugh doing it?’ and apparently, he said, ‘Is Martine doing it?’ But I know he would have done it without me.”

Mark

How could we forget Andrew Lincoln ’s puppy-eyed, silent declarations of love on a doorstep?

His character Mark’s infactuation with Keira Knightley’s Juliet was one of the most memorable plot lines in the original film.

Andrew Lincoln gets to work with his marker pen – again
(Photo: Comic Relief Ltd)
Mark’s quiet adoration of his friend’s wife was a major plotline in the original
(Photo: Universal Studios)

Eventually, after knocking on her door he used a series of white cards to suggest that “with any luck by next year I’ll be going out with one of these girls” and then he displayed pictures of four supermodels, telling Juliet she was “perfect”.

At the time Juliet was happily married to Mark’s best friend, played by Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor.

But in the sequel he knocks on the door and holds a sign up that reads “Meet my wife!” – at which point a woman joins him on the doorstep.

She carries a sign of her own that simply says: “Hi!”

Lincoln, now 43, is an even bigger star than in his Love Actually days, thanks to his lead role in TV series Walking Dead.

And there are rumours his new wife in the Comic Relief update could be far more attractive than his usual zombies.

Red Nose day is ‘a demonstration of the basic generosity of the British public’, according to Richard Curtis
(Photo: Comic Relief Ltd)
Curtis chats to Keira Knightley – is she still the object of Mark’s affection?
(Photo: Comic Relief Ltd)

Although it has not been confirmed that she’ll play his other half, it is known Kate Moss is in the sequel and she was one of the four supermodels on his original whiteboards…

Will Andrew Lincoln’s character Mark have a supermodel in tow?

Absent friends

Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson in Love Actually
Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson in Love Actually the original

Richard Curtis has said it felt “strange” filming the Love Actually sequel without Alan Rickman .

The actor, who died aged 69 in 2016, played the straying husband of Emma Thompson.

Director Curtis said: “It’s been a frantic few weeks. It’s obviously very strange and sad that Alan can’t be with us, and that means Emma Thompson won’t be in it, either.

“I’ve also had to leave out some of the other stories or it would have started to creep up to a full-length feature.”

Thompson has previously said it would be “too sad and too soon” after the death of her co-star to take part.

And actor Kris Marshall – who played Colin Frissell travelling to America to find love – recently revealed he will not feature.

Curtis said: “My sons are bitter we don’t see what’s happened to Colin. I assume he’s in prison.”

Fascinating facts

  • Since it was first shown on TV in December 2006, when it was watched by 6.3 million, Love Actually has been watched by nearly 30 million viewers on ITV and ITV2. Though how many were people watching it for a second, third or 30th time is anyone’s guess as it goes out around four or five times each year.
  • The original budget for the film was around £30m but it is estimated to have made over £200m at the box office.
  • In 2016 it was voted the most popular Christmas movie in a Radio Times poll.
  • Curtis originally had 14 separate love stories but cut them down. He also wrote five different endings for the film.
  • The film sold more than one million copies on DVD in the US in a single week.
  • Red Nose Day Actually airs in Comic Relief on Friday, March 24.

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