Hugh Grant Reflects on the Legacy of "Love Actually": "It Is a Bit Psychotic"
The "Love Actually" cast — or at least some of them — took some time to relive memories of the classic holiday movie in a new primetime special. On Nov. 29, nearly 20 years after the film first aired, Diane Sawyer hosted a special called "The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later" in celebration of the occasion.
In it, director Richard Curtis and stars Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster all sat down to discuss their memories of the movie. One of their main topics of discussion was Grant's curmudgeonly nature. "He's often cranky and unhappy, but he is also the only person in the world who's never sent me a text that hasn't made me laugh," said Curtis of the actor's personality. "Hugh finds everyone annoying," joked Thompson, before Grant said, "I'm not just miserable myself, I like to make everyone around me miserable if I can."
As it turns out, Grant was a bit cranky during the filming of "Love Actually" — particularly during his infamous dancing scene. "No Englishman can dance when they're sober at 8 in the morning," he said. "He was grumpy, but he knew, it was a contractual obligation," Curtis laughed.
Grant also had his doubts after seeing the movie, and he wasn't the only one. "I sat there thinking, 'God, it's quite kind of out there, isn't it?'" Thompson recalled. "And then Hugh came up behind me as we were walking out and said, 'Correct me if I'm wrong, but is that the most psychotic thing we've ever been in?'"
"Well, it is a bit psychotic!" Grant countered. "Like I said, it's Richard on steroids. When he writes about love, he means it and that is quite rare." He did say he's come to an understanding of the movie over the years, with a little help from his wife, Anna Elisabet Eberstein. "I did drunkenly watch a bit of 'Love Actually' a few months ago with my wife, and she was the one who said . . . 'It's all about pain. It's all about suffering,'" Grant told Sawyer during the interview, per the Los Angeles Times.
Curtis, for his part, made it clear that he stands by the film's themes. "We get thousands of films about serial killers, and there's only ever been about nine of them," he said. "And yet, there'll be a million people falling in love, feeling it's the most interesting moments of their lives." However, he does have some regrets. "There are things you'd change, but thank God society is changing. So my film is bound, in some moments, to feel out of date," he said. "The lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid. There are three plots that have bosses and people who work for them."
Thompson has also come to an understanding of what's made the movie so enduringly beloved. "I so get it," Thompson said. "We forget, time and time again we forget, that love is all around us. It's all that matters. My grandmother used to say your heart's no good as a heart until it's been broken 10 times. There's something about the scar tissue that makes it stronger."
The special wasn't without its bittersweet aspects. Alan Rickman, who played Thompson's character's husband, Harry, sadly couldn't appear, as he died in 2016.
But it wasn't the first time the cast has gotten back together. Kiera Knightley, Liam Neeson, Grant, and many of the other stars — minus Rickman and Thompson, who felt it was too soon after the former's death — reunited for a minisequel called "Red Nose Day Actually" in 2017, which tied up some loose ends from the first movie.
"The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later" is now streaming on Hulu.