‘Love Actually’: Richard Curtis Wrote This Role Specifically For 1 Star
It’s been nearly two decades since Love Actually first hit the silver screen. Since it debuted in 2003, this Christmas movie classic continues to be a holiday season favorite year after year (much to the surprise of some of the stars featured in the film). The film opens with newly elected British prime minister David (played by actor Hugh Grant) meeting an iconic character in the prime minister’s residence. And while many of the ensemble celebrity cast had to audition and compete for their roles, Richard Curtis — the romantic comedy’s director — already had one specific actor in mind when he created and developed this character’s role.
A tale of 10 love stories
Love Actually follows the trajectories of 10 different relationship stories. For example, you have author Jamie (played by Colin Firth) falling in love with his housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), and you have the emotional love-triangle between Juliet (Keira Knightley), Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and Mark (Andrew Lincoln).
But the movie isn’t just about burgeoning dates, struggling marriages, and forbidden office romances. For instance, you have rock star Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) befriending his business manager Joe (Gregor Fisher).
Each narrative seems like its own individual love story, but by the time the film ends, you see all the characters at Heathrow Airport and moviegoers finally realize how every single relationship and character are interlinked in ways both big and small.
‘Love Actually’ director Richard Curtis knew who he wanted in some roles
Curtis, the director of Love Actually, is no stranger to romantic comedies. Other films in his repertoire include Notting Hill and both Bridget Jones movies. Over the years, Curtis has gotten to know many Hollywood stars. So when he sat down to write the many twists and turns of his holiday classic, he already knew who he wanted in a few key roles.
“I knew from the start I wanted Hugh Grant as the prime minister and Emma Thompson as his sister,” says Curtis in an interview with The Guardian. He even knew who he wanted in the movie’s nativity play; he asked his daughter Scarlett Curtis to either be a lobster or an angel, and she told The Times she accepted the role of a lobster on the condition that her father let her meet Keira Knightley.
But those aren’t the only roles that Curtis had already cast in his mind. In the movie’s opening act, prime minister David meets Natalie, the newest member of the prime minister’s household staff. Curtis knew who he wanted to play Natalie, so much so that he even originally named the character after this star.
Natalie was supposed to be named ‘Martine’ after actor Martine McCutcheon
Martine McCutcheon is an English actor and singer who first rose to prominence in the BBC series EastEnders. But it’s her role in Love Actually that made her a household name on both sides of the Atlantic.
Curtis tells The Guardian that he wrote the entire role of Natalie with the goal of McCutcheon starring in it. “I even called the character Martine,” he says. However, Curtis did not want McCutcheon to assume that she was automatically going to get the job, so he changed the character’s name from “Martine” to “Natalie” before McCutcheon auditioned.
“The part was written for me because [Curtis] had seen me in My Fair Lady and EastEnders, he’d followed my career over the years,” McCutcheon tells Cosmopolitan. “I didn’t know any of this until later on down the line.”
In that same interview with Cosmopolitan, McCutcheon says she felt out of her league and very nervous being around so many big-name celebrities in the movie. “I just wanted to do a great job and earn my place amongst them,” she says. “Thank god all these years later I think I just about did it.”