On-set phobias and a last minute hat: 18 things you didn't know about Love Actually.

Watching Love Actually is up there with the most sacred of Christmas traditions.

The film, with its multiple romances, Christmas octopus and dancing Hugh Grant, is for many the pinnacle of festive films.

We’ve watched it every year since its 2003 release, sometimes more than once, sometimes… 12 times, but even after all this time it seems like each year we discover something new about it.

If you didn’t cry in this scene, you’re a monster. Post continues below video.

Video by Universal Pictures

In honour of the film, which will turn 16 this year (they grow up so fast!) here are 18 Love Actually facts you may not have known, even if you can recite the whole thing back to front.

1. Juliet and Sam’s age difference.

Keira Knightley appeared in the flick as Juliet, a bride who discovers her new husband’s best friend doesn’t hate her but has been in love with her THIS ENTIRE TIME.

And Thomas Brodie-Sangster, now of Game of Thrones fame, played Sam, who is experiencing the “total agony of being in love” with his classmate, Joanna.

Considering one character is walking down the aisle, and the other is attempting to land a kiss on the cheek from his first crush, it’s only natural to assume the age difference between the two actors in the film is… at least a decade. Possibly even more. But no.


Knightley was 18 when she played Juliet and Brodie-Sangster was 13, meaning the two are just FIVE years apart.

And we’ll never watch it the same.

2. Claudia Schiffer made bank.

There’s a running gag in the film that Liam Neeson’s character Daniel’s dream woman is Claudia Schiffer.

Then after Sam’s play, he runs into a woman named Carol… who is played by the German supermodel.

Claudia Schiffer Love Actually
Image: Universal Pictures.

Schiffer later appeared briefly in the final airport scene, but all together only made it into about 60 seconds of the film.

But according to the book, How Much?!: The $1000 Omelette... and 1100 Other Astonishing Money Moments, director Richard Curtis paid her a staggering £200,000 for her cameo... that's more than AU$6000 a second.

3. Meanwhile, another actor wasn't paid for an entire scene.

According to IMDb, Kris Marshall, who played loveable English lad Colin - who jets off to America in search of "hotter girls" - didn't get paid for an entire scene.


Apparently the star was so chuffed he got to spend a whole day "getting undressed by three American girls" that he handed his paycheck back to Curtis.

4. Alan Rickman's character didn't just flirt.

Noooo. Just in case you're not already feeling emotionally fragile enough at this time of year...

In 2015, Curtis' wife, Emma Freud, shared in a tweet that Harry's affair with his secretary Mia went further than what we saw on screen.

She also said during the same live tweeting session that Harry and Karen, played by Emma Thompson, did end up staying together but "home isn't as happy as it once was".

Oh. We're crying.

5. "I hate Uncle Jamie."

Richard Curtis named Colin Firth's character Jamie for one reason, and one reason only: That's his brother's name.

So when Jamie turns up at his family Christmas, promptly leaves, and the kids exclaim "I hate Uncle Jamie"... Yeah.

6. Sam is related to the Prime Minister.

Well, not in the film, but Thomas Brodie-Sangster is related to Hugh Grant.

"On Love Actually, I met Hugh Grant, who is a relative: our great-grandmothers were sisters. He'd call me cousin and ruffle my hair," Brodie-Sangster once said.

7. Emma Thompson could relate to that scene.

When Emma Thompson's character retreated to her room to cry after figuring out her husband was having an affair, we all cried with her.

And as it turns out, Thompson channelled personal heartbreak while acting that scene.

emma thompson love actually
Image: Giphy.

"I had my heart very badly broken by [ex-husband Kenneth Branagh]," Thompson said at a fundraising event in early 2018.

"So I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn't meant for me."

8. Hugh Grant hated that dancing scene.

It turns out 59-year-old Hugh Grant couldn't stand filming the scene in which he dances around his Downing Street residence to Jump, which frankly, is one of our favourite movie scenes ever.

hugh grant love actually
Image: Giphy.
hugh grant love actually
Image: Giphy.
hugh grant love actually
Image: Giphy.

Director Richard Curtis revealed the truth in an interview with the Daily Beast to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the eternally popular rom-com.


“[Hugh] was hugely grumpy about it," Curtis said.

"The fault line was the dance, because there was no way he could do that in a prime ministerial manner. He kept on putting it off, and he didn’t like the song — it was originally a Jackson 5 song, but we couldn’t get it — so he was hugely unhappy about it.

"We didn’t shoot it until the final day and it went so well that when we edited it, it had gone too well, and he was singing along with the words. When you edit a dance sequence like that, it’s going to be a third of the length, and the bit he’s singing the words to isn’t going to be the bit of that moment, so it was incredibly hard to edit."

9. Rowan Atkinson's character was originally an angel.

Atkinson's character ended up being a Christmas angel anyway by helping Sam reach Joanna in time at the airport, but originally his 'angel' status was going to be a lot more literal.

Rufus (did you know that was his name?) was originally going to evaporate after helping Sam at the airport, but Richard Curtis decided adding supernatural beings to the film would've been a tad too much.

Emma Freud (again, in her 2015 Twitter spree) revealed he was on our side the whole time:

10. The lake was... shallow.

The lake, which Lúcia Moniz and Colin Firth's Aurelia and Jamie jump in to save his writing was actually only 18 inches deep. The pair had to kneel down and pretend to be in deeper water.

It was also over-run by mosquitoes, and Colin Firth was so badly bitten his elbow swelled up to the size of an avocado, requiring medical attention. Yikes.

11. The airport footage at the beginning and end was real.

Richard Curtis had a team of cameramen film at Heathrow airport for a week, and whenever they saw something that would fit in they asked the people involved for permission to use the footage. Ah, so love really is all around.


12. Andrew Lincoln wrote those cards himself.

andrew lincoln love actually
Image: Giphy.

One of Love Actually's most recognisable moments is undoubtedly when Andrew Lincoln's character silently serenades Keira Knightley's Juliet.

"It is my handwriting," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2013.

"It's funny, because the Art Department did it, and then I said, 'Well, can I do it?' because I like to think that my handwriting is really good. Actually, it ended up with me having to sort of trace over the Art Department's, so it is my handwriting, but with a sort of pencil stencil underneath."

To me, your handwriting is perfect.

13. Billy Bob Thornton faced a number of phobias.

Look, we're not here to judge anybody. But... Billy Bob Thornton has a number of unusual phobias.

"Billy Bob Thornton is a curious man with curious phobias," Richard Curtis told Elle.

"[He told us] 'The strangest phobia I’ve got is I’m disturbed by photographs of [former British Prime Minister] Benjamin Disraeli. Specifically his facial hair.' It was really unfortunate for him that this would be the only time in his life that there is a photograph of Disraeli on the stairs in a major film he’s going to do. We just had to walk him past the photograph.

"[He said] 'I'll just turn away at that moment and I’ll be fine.'"


Thornton also came face to face with his fear of... antiques (but mainly, Hugh Grant is to blame).

Just before the cameras rolled, Grant would often flash an antique in front of Thornton and watch him freak out.

14. Underwear is important.

We don't know if it is this important, but Lúcia Moniz, Richard Curtis and other members of production had a 45 minute meeting to determine what colour underwear Aurelia would be wearing when she jumped in the lake to save Jamie's writing.

15. Olivia Olson was too good at singing.

Olivia Olson, who played Joanna, was originally given two days to record her cover of All I Want For Christmas Is You, but after her first practice run producers realised she was "too good".

olivia olson love actually
Image: Giphy.

They had to ask her to "do it a little less good" the second time around, and ended up using that. But uh, it was still too good, and Richard Curtis worried it sounded unbelievable for a child. He asked his sound editor to add some breaths in to make it more 'realistic', and voila.

16. There was a reason for Keira Knightley's hat.

Keira Knightley

You know the hat. It's hard to miss. But as it turns out, the hat wasn't actually meant to be in the scene.

It was a last-minute wardrobe addition for Keira's character Julia for one oh-so-relatable reason: To disguise a "massive spot" on her forehead.

"Do you know why the hat was there? I had a massive spot in the middle of my forehead," Knightley said on BBC Radio 1.

"This is the problem with being 17 and being in films. It was humongous. We had to find a hat to cover it. There was no lighting, there was no makeup that was going to cover it."

17. It was never meant to be an ensemble film.

Richard Curtis had written two separate films - one written around Hugh Grant's character David, and the other around Colin Firth's Jamie - but then decided to combine them.

"I’d worked out whole films on those subjects, and then I thought, Oh, I don’t want to do these because they are just turning out to be a shape I know," he told Vulture.

"And I said, 'I’d be more interested in writing a film about love and what love sort of means, and how, you know, about the subject rather than one example of a story about that subject."

18. And it was never meant to be a Christmas film.

December just wouldn't be the same without Love Actually, but originally the movie was just meant to be a... movie. An ordinary, could-happen-at-any-time-type movie.

"I’m so surprised and delighted by the Love Actually thing, because when I first started the movie it wasn’t set at Christmas then I love Christmas movies so I thought I’ll make a Christmas movie, but it didn’t occur to me that it might be one of those Christmas movies where people actually watch it again and again and it’s a delightful surprise to me," Richard Curtis told VH1.

And we are forever grateful.

Feature images: Universal Pictures.