"Love Actually" fans rejoice because the five biggest questions you’ve always had about the movie have finally been answered.
It’s been 15 years since the iconic Christmas film was released and now, after all this time, script editor (and director Richard Curtis’ girlfriend) Emma Freud has finally put us out of our misery by setting the record straight about the movie’s mysteries.
In an exclusive chat with news.com.au, Ms. Freud responded to the most popular fan theories, revealed which scene she fought to cut from the film and even picked which actors she’d like to cast in Love Actually if it were being made in 2018.
Q. Let’s start with the fan theories. Some people believe Annie, the prime minister’s chief of staff, pushed David and Natalie together. She was the one who picked the supposedly “random sample” of Christmas cards for the PM to read, one of which was from Natalie confessing her love for him. Perhaps Annie noticed David hadn’t been as happy since Natalie was “redistributed” and decided to play Cupid?
A. Wow, I love that! I’ve never heard that or even thought of it. I was the one who wrote the post-it saying, “A random sample,” so I always thought it was me who chose that particular Christmas card (laughs).
That was certainly not in Richard’s mind but I think he’ll want to agree with it because that idea does make a lot of sense.
You’re absolutely right. If he’s only going to get 20 Christmas cards and only one of them is private and romantic, somebody must have had a bit of a say in that.
Q. There’s a theory that Daniel (played by Liam Neeson) is in love with Karen (played by Emma Thompson). What evidence is there, you ask? When Daniel’s wife dies, he turns to Karen for support. And when he bumps into Claudia Schiffer after the school concert and she introduces herself as Carol, Daniel mistakenly calls her Karen when he says he’d like to see her again.
A. No, that was genuinely a mistake by Richard who had forgotten that Emma Thompson’s character was called Karen. He just wanted it to be awkward for Liam in front of Claudia Schiffer and it was genuinely a coincidence.
You know when they eat breakfast cereal in the kitchen together? Liam plays that scene without any romantic spark.
It would have been quite a neat storyline though. (Laughs.)
Q. You’ve said before that Rowan Atkinson’s character, Rufus, was originally going to be an angel in the movie. Well, some fans have speculated that Mia (played by Heike Makatsch) is meant to represent the Devil. Is that true?
A. No, she didn’t represent anything, although I can see why they’d think that because she does wear those little devil horns at the party.
I truly hate Mia … She’s a piece of work, isn’t she? But no, she was never meant to represent anything; she just is a bad girl.
The actress, on the other hand, was a wonderful girl and played it so beautifully. But that storyline hurts me.
Q. Another big question fans have about the movie is what would have happened if Peter (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) had answered the door instead of Juliet (played by Keira Knightley) when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) rocked up on their doorstep with his romantic cue cards?
A. Maybe he would have given him the CD player as a Christmas gift and hidden the cards behind his back. But that’s a very good question.
Q. And why didn’t the Prime Minister simply look up Natalie’s (played by Martine McCutcheon) address rather than going door to door? Surely he could have found out where she lived pretty easily?
A. That’s also a good question. (Laughs.) I don’t know!
Hugh knocking on doors was my favorite scene so knowing the address would have f----d that up, wouldn’t it?
I stood in for the dancing children when we shot Hugh’s lines on the doorstep, so when you see him talking to the kids, he was actually talking to me on my knees.
But also, and I’m making this up, when you are Prime Minister and everything is done for you, his ability to manage and process his own life would have been so diminished by the fact he was surrounded by staff who were in charge of every single thing that he had to do. And now he has this big secret so he has to sort it out himself and can’t say to a member of staff, “Find her address,” without it looking suspicious.
Q. There are so many amazing scenes in the movie but was there one, in particular, that was more special to film than the others?
A. I experienced what was effectively an acting masterclass when we filmed the scene where Emma Thompson listens to the Joni Mitchell CD in her bedroom and cries.
We shot that in a real house rather than on a set so it felt very intimate and the bedroom wasn’t very big. I sat by the door on the ground and watched her do seven takes of that scene — every single one was as brilliant as the one we chose. In between each take she snapped straight back into being Emma Thompson and chatting normally. And then as soon as the camera was rolling she transformed in a second into a woman at the absolute lowest point of her marriage.
She cried on every single take and I’ve never seen anything like it. It was one of those moments where admiration turns into a profound respect for someone who has honed their skills to that level and can, on cue, produce emotion which has so much integrity that it can move an audience to tears.
Q. On the flip side, was there a scene that you didn’t enjoy seeing filmed?
A. There are some scenes that I still find painful because I tried to cut them from the original script and still wish I’d fought harder. The scene where Colin is seen through the window of the American girls’ apartment was one I battled and lost, and it still makes me wince.
Q. If you were to make "Love Actually" in 2018, which actors would you like to cast in the main roles?
A. Well lots of them would be the same — Hugh was a surprisingly young Prime Minister but would be searingly realistic now. And there will never be a better Karen than Emma (Thompson), even when she’s 90. But I know Richard (Curtis) would cast either Saoirse Ronan or Lily James as the young bride (played by Keira Knightley). And definitely Asim Chaudhry as Colin Frissell.