Has there ever been a Christmas movie as beguiling as Love Actually? In the past couple of years, the rom-com bonanza has at times come under fire. “Love Actually is one terrible Christmas movie that has strong-armed its way into the hearts of millions (including my own) despite being absolutely terrible,” read the intro of one of the most lethal takedowns of the film. And yet, we cannot get enough. (Who hasn’t read the definitive ranking of all of the turtlenecks in Love Actually?) To get in the holiday spirit, we put on our Christmas lobster costume and plumbed the depths of our own fandom. Here, five things you actually (maybe?) didn’t know about Love Actually.
1. Ever wonder why a few members of the cast were American? Apparently, director Richard Curtis had intended for all the actors to be British, but hit a few snags in the casting process. Laura Linney told The Daily Beast in 2013: “I got a letter in the mail from Richard Curtis saying that he’d been trying to cast this part, and he’d kept saying to his partner, Emma Freud, that he’d been looking for a ‘Laura Linney type,’ and she said, “Why don’t you ask Laura Linney?” My part was originally written for another Brit, but he asked me to do it, and I was so excitedto be asked.” As it happened, Linney’s on-screen love interest, Karl, was in the same boat. “I got an email from [casting director Mary Selway] while I was in New York. My character, Karl, was supposed to be British—the cast was supposed to be all British—but apparently they couldn’t find the right actor. She asked me to put myself on tape, so I got a friend of mine to help me and sent it to London.”
2. Olivia Olson, who plays Sam’s crush, Joanna—aka, “the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she’s heaven”—gave one of the most unforgettable performances of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” but, as it turns out, Olson was actually instructed to sing the song not as well as she could have. “I sang it all the way through, and they were like, ‘Okay, thank you,’ and then they turned the volume off so I couldn’t hear what they were talking about,”Olson told EW in 2009. “But my dad told me later that they were like, ‘She sounds too good. No one’s going to believe that she’s really singing that.’ So they’re like, ‘Okay. Hi, Olivia. Um, great job. Do you think you could do it a little less good?’ They just pretty much told me to sing it more straight, not do as many runs and trills. We recorded it one more time, and they used that. So it took about 45 minutes to do it when they gave me two days of studio time.”