It's hard to believe it's been over 13 years since Love Actually first earned its place on the Christmas movie must-list— yet somehow, after all this time, this heartwarming and cheesy parade of guest stars endures. So, in honor of this perennial favorite, here are just a few fun facts about Love Actually that you might not have known, even if you've watched it a million times.
1. Olivia Olson (who plays young Sam's crush, Joanna) was such an incredible singer that the director had to edit her voice to make it sound more childlike. That's right: As jaw-dropping as Olivia's voice was in the film, it's even more impressive in real life. When she went in to record her cover of "All I Want For Christmas Is You," the producers originally set aside two days so that she could get it right. Instead, they ended up recording her practice run only to realize it was "too good" to be believable. They then asked her to "do it a little less good" the second time around, and ended up using that — but because director/writer Richard Curtis thought it might still sound fake, he asked his sound editor to add in some breaths to make it more "realistic."
2. The actor who played Colin Frissell wasn't paid for the scene where he gets seduced by three American girls. According to IMDb, actor Kris Marshall returned his paycheck for the day because "he had such a great time having three girls undress him for 21 takes, that he was willing to do it for free."
3. It wasn't just flirting: Alan Rickman's character "definitely had an affair" with his secretary. Just to further destroy your heart, Emma Freud (wife of director Richard Curtis and Sigmund Freud's great-granddaughter) revealed during
@carlotta429 DEFINITELY had an affair. i begged richard just to make it a flirtation, but no. the whole way.— emma freud (@emmafreud) December 13, 2015
4. However, Harry and Karen stay together. In the same 2015 live-tweet, Freud also revealed that — despite the film's ambiguity on the subject — Harry and Karen do end up staying together in the end. However, "home isn't as happy as it once was."
5. The opening and closing scenes feature real people reuniting with their loved ones at the airport. No actors here! The scenes were shot using hidden cameras — so yes, love, actually, is all around.
6. There's a very sneaky reason why Colin Firth's character was named Jamie. And by sneaky, I mean seriously petty.
Richard only called colin firth's character 'jamie' so the kids could say 'I hate uncle jamie'. His brother is called jamie. #LoveActually— emma freud (@emmafreud) December 13, 2015
7. Hugh Grant really didn't want to do that dance routine. Contrary to how pleased the Prime Minister looked while dancing along to "Jump For My Love," Grant allegedly tried to put off filming the scene for as long as possible because he absolutely hated it.
8. Rowan Atkinson's character was originally supposed to be a Christmas angel. Arguably, he ended up being one either way — but in the film's DVD commentary, Curtis revealed it was meant to be much more literal. In fact, Rufus was originally going to evaporate after helping Sam at the airport.
"But in the end, the film turned out so sort of
In addition, Freud claims Rufus being an angel is the original reason why the character took so long wrapping Harry's gift for Mia: He wanted to prevent him from giving it.
Originally Rowan's character over-wrapped the gift on purpose to stop Alan rickman being able to buy the necklace. Because he was an angel.— emma freud (@emmafreud) December 13, 2015
9. Andrew Lincoln wrote all of his own signs for the scene where his character professes his love to Juliet (Keira Knightley). "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," he said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
To me, your handwriting is perfect, Andrew Lincoln.
10. The lake where Jamie and Aurelia jump in to save his writing was actually only 18 inches deep. Colin Firth and Lúcia Moniz were only pretending to swim, and had to do the whole scene on their knees.
11. Speaking of Aurelia, it took over 45 minutes to decide what color her underwear should be. According to Mental Floss, 20 sets of bras and panties were considered, and "what she wore beneath her cozy sweater was a major matter of debate that involved a lengthy meeting with [the] producers."
12. Thomas Brodie-Sangster learned how to play drums for the film. Just like his character Sam, the Game of Thrones actor had no idea how to play the drums, and ended up learning with some help from his dad. He still plays to this day!
13. The word "actually" is said 23 times throughout the film. Who knew Love Actually was secretly the inspiration for mansplainers everywhere?
14. Emma Thompson wore a "fat suit" for the film. According to IMDb, they wanted to "make her appear heavier" since she is naturally very thin.
15. One of the characters was based on the film's director/writer. While he had no idea for most of filming, Lincoln revealed in an interview with Screener, "Halfway through filming, Richard's partner Emma came over and whispered in my ear, 'You know, you're playing Richard.' I said, 'What?' And she said, 'Yeah. This is the closest to Richard that he's ever written.' That made it a double honor, because Richard is such a wonderful, extraordinary human being."
16. The Prime Minister and Sam are related IRL. Grant and Brodie-Sangster are second cousins, and would sometimes joke about it on set.
17. There were originally 14 separate love stories in the film, but it got cut down to 10 in the final version. According to Buzzfeed, two of the storylines that had been cut had already been filmed, including one "about an African couple supporting each other through a famine" and one about "a stern headmistress who was nursing her lesbian partner through cancer."
18. Martin Freeman filmed his "sex" scenes with "a little sock on his willy." (No further comment necessary.)
Just incase you were worried, martin freeman had a little sock on his willy. #LoveActually— emma freud (@emmafreud) December 13, 2015
19. It wasn't originally an ensemble film. In an interview with Vulture, Curtis explained that he had actually written two separate films — one centered around Hugh Grant's story in Love Actually and the other around Colin Firth's — before he decided to combine them together.
"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 said. "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.'"
Bless the movie gods he did.
20. Like you, Laura Linney also wishes her character hadn't answered the phone while hooking up with Karl. When asked what one decision she'd change of any of the characters she's played, she said it was an "easy" choice.
21. And depending on what country you watch the movie, the song Sarah and Karl dance to at the Christmas party is different. In the U.K., it's Sugababes' "Too Lost In You," and in the U.S., it's Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is."
22. Quite a few actors in the film were cast before they'd auditioned. This includes Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Claudia Schiffer, and Martine McCutcheon, who plays Natalie. In fact, her character was originally named Martine — but they swapped it out for Natalie before she auditioned so she wouldn't know she was a shoo-in.
23. There's a reason why Liam Neeson's character Daniel was constantly carrying a toothpick in the film. Multiple sources report that the actor had just quit smoking, and used toothpicks as a "stand-in" for cigarettes.
24. It originally wasn't meant to be a Christmas 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," Curtis told VH1.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.