+
upworthy
Pop Culture

Director and cast of 'Love Actually' share why the beloved Christmas rom-com was such a hit

Twenty years later, and it's still a Christmas classic.

love actually, love actually special

Writer/Director Richard Curtis and Emma Thompson

Since its release in 2003, the Christmas-themed rom-com "Love Actually" captured hearts and became one of the most beloved holiday films of all time. True to its title, the film celebrated love—all kinds of love—as it actually is, and managed to maintain optimism without being overly saccharine. This, coupled with a truly stellar ensemble, made it so well received among audiences, despite the mixed reviews from critics.

Nearly 20 years later, the film’s writer and director Richard Curtis (who also brought us "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones’ Diary") reflects back on why it might have meant so much to so many people. As an artist who has made a name for himself creating enduring love stories, perhaps it’s no surprise that he feels it’s something the world is in constant need of.


As part of the ABC special “The Laughter and Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later”, Curtis told host Diane Sawyer “we get thousands of films about serial killers and there's only ever been about nine of them.”

"And yet," he continued," there'll be a million people falling in love, feeling it's the most interesting moment of their lives. Good deeds inside families, and good deeds inside communities.” He went on to remark that during the COVID-19 pandemic people displayed an “extraordinary sort of bravery and heroism.”

“Every day has the potential, in all its simplicity, just to be gorgeous,' he concluded.

Curtis also noted that despite its timeless themes, that there are definitely some choices he would no longer make. “Thank god, society is changing. So, my film is bound, in some moments, to feel, you know, out of date. I mean, there are things about the film, you know, the lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid,” he said.

Sawyer held interviews with not only Curtis, but with Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Laura Linney, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson and Martine McCutcheon, who all starred in the movie.


Thompson, who played upper-class mom Karen, and Bill Nighy, who played aging rock star Billy Mack (and, let’s not forget, gave the film its iconic tune “Christmas is All Around”) seconded Curtis’ sentiments.

"Time and time again, we forget that love is all around us," Thompson told Sawyer.. "It's all that matters. [Curtis] reminds us in a film that is very funny about love and all its messiness and its unexpectedness. That you'll find love in the weirdest places."

Similarly, Nighy said "I love films that emphasize how remarkable people can be. It was full of love and heart and all those words that you resist, perhaps, and why not?"

Perhaps it’s this refreshingly positive attitude of appreciating life’s simplest, yet most profound moments that helped the movie defy the odds. After all, even the cast admitted to finding the story pretty out there. Hugh Grant, who played Prime Minister David, joked that he originally thought it was all “a bit psychotic.”

“But the thing is,” he added, “with [Curtis], what you have to remember is when he writes about love, he means it. And that is quite rare."

It’s because of Grant’s commitment to Curtis’ vision that gave us one of his characters most iconic moments—when the Prime Minister gets caught by his secretary while dancing to "Jump (For My Love).”

"I saw it in the script and I thought: 'Well, I'll hate doing that,'" Grant quipped… "No Englishman can dance sober at 8 in the morning." But in the end he honored what he called his "contractual obligation,” though he would like us to know getting caught by the secretary was his (“genius!”) idea.


The special contains all kinds of fun behind the scenes stories that will make you love the film even more. One particularly funny bit is when Curtis shares a story about Keira Knightley wrongly predicting her next role in the major blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean” would be a flop. “I remember sitting down with Keira while we were shooting, and saying, ‘what are you doing next?’ And she said, "oh, I don't think it's going to work. It's a pirate film and they always fail.’” Sometimes it’s nice to be very, very wrong.

If you'd like to watch the full special, it's available on Hulu. And if you haven't seen "Love Actually," do yourself a favor and watch it right this second.

Sponsored

From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

True

Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
Innovation

A student accidentally created a rechargeable battery that could last 400 years

"This thing has been cycling 10,000 cycles and it’s still going." ⚡️⚡️

There's an old saying that luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.

There's no better example of that than a 2016 discovery at the University of California, Irvine, by doctoral student Mya Le Thai. After playing around in the lab, she made a discovery that could lead to a rechargeable battery that could last up to 400 years. That means longer-lasting laptops and smartphones and fewer lithium ion batteries piling up in landfills.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This woman's powerful 'before and after' photos crush myths about body positivity

"Body positivity is about saying that you are more than a body and your self-worth is not reliant on your beauty."



Michelle Elman, a body positivity coach, helps people who are struggling to find confidence in their own skin.

After persevering through numerous medical conditions and surgeries in her own life, Elman realized a few years ago that body positivity wasn't just about size or weight. Things like scars, birthmarks, and anything else that makes us feel different of self-conscious have to be a part of the conversation, and she tries to make the movement accessible to everyone.

Sharing her own journey has been one of her most effective teaching tools.

Keep ReadingShow less

Angelina Jordan blew everyone away with her version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody."

At Upworthy, we've shared a lot of memorable "America's Got Talent" auditions, from physics-defying dance performances to jaw-dropping magic acts to heart-wrenching singer-songwriter stories. Now we're adding Angelina Jordan's "AGT: The Champions" audition to the list because wow.

Jordan came to "AGT: The Champions" in 2020 as the winner of Norway's Got Talent, which she won in 2014 at the mere age of 7 with her impressive ability to seemingly channel Billie Holiday. For the 2020 audition, she sang Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but a version that no one had ever heard before.

With just her Amy Winehouse-ish voice, a guitar and a piano, Jordan brought the fan-favorite Queen anthem down to a smooth, melancholy ballad that's simply riveting to listen to.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

A teen student delivered a masterclass on the true history of the Confederate flag

Christopher Justice broke it down into incredible details most of us probably weren't even aware of.

Six years ago, a high school student named Christopher Justice eloquently explained the multiple problems with flying the Confederate flag. A video clip of Justice's truth bomb has made the viral rounds a few times since then, and here it is once again getting the attention it deserves.

Justice doesn't just explain why the flag is seen as a symbol of racism. He also explains the history of when the flag originated and why flying a Confederate flag makes no sense for people who claim to be loyal Americans.

But that clip, as great as it is, is a small part of the whole story. Knowing how the discussion came about and seeing the full debate in context is even more impressive.

Keep ReadingShow less

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Chocolate lab is not in the mood for pets and his reaction is leaving people in stitches

The way he looks her dead in the eye while turning down her affection…

Dog turns down his owner's pets and the internet is laughing.

Sometimes we're not in the mood to be touched, and the same goes for our pets. While cats are notorious for snubbing humans who dare to touch them without explicit affirmative consent for exactly 3.5 pets, dogs are different. Dogs like to get head scratches, butt pats and for some reason slapped on the ribs somewhat aggressively. I don't know why dog owners do the last one but I've seen it enough to think it's a thing that dogs enjoy.

The point is dogs generally want you to pet them as often as humanly possible and until it feels like your arms are going to fall off. They try to climb up on your lap because being as close to your cornea as their snouts will allow is comforting to them. But apparently, dogs also get into moods where they don't want to be touched by their humans.

Weird, right? A chocolate lab on TikTok is simply not in the mood for pets and his reaction to his owner attempting to pet him has commenters in stitches.

Keep ReadingShow less