Actually, did you know? Little known facts about “Love Actually”

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 8, 2013
Movie poster for the film. Source: Wikimedia commons

Movie poster for the film. Source: Wikimedia commons

It’s Christmas, and at Christmas you’re supposed to tell the truth.

To tell you the truth, actually, “Love Actually” has grown on me.

It was released 10 years ago. I was in my early 20s and it didn’t really appeal to me in 2003. I saw it once and didn’t think much of it. My worldview was much more cynical then, and I wasn’t in the mood for “Love Actually” and its almost quaint sentimentality. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about the interconnecting stories of more than a dozen characters who are dealing with their individual romantic crises.

Recently a friend of mine mentioned that she watched it every year around the holidays. I gave it another try. I don’t know if the movie has gotten better with age or my taste has gotten worse, but it has weaseled its way into my pretentious, cynical heart.

I’m a bit of an movie trivia hoarder. I spend long and pointless hours scouring Internet Movie Database in the hopes I could find some nugget of information that would be useful to me at bar trivia. So far, no luck there. But thanks to IMDb and some other websites, I’ve learned some interesting things about my new favorite Christmas move. Actually, did you know that …

1) American critics actually weren’t crazy about it.

While more than half the critics polled on Rotten Tomatoes gave the film nice reviews, the ones who hated it really hated it.  Among the points of contention: a lengthy 135 minute run-time and a story with too many characters.

“Call me Scrooge,” wrote Joe Baltake of the Sacramento Bee. “But I sincerely hope that this film does not become a Christmas perennial.”

Sorry about that, sir.

2) It actually made Bill Nighy famous.

Nighy, who played the “bad granddad” of rock and roll Billy Mack, was a favorite of audiences and critics. Billy Mack is an over-the-hill pop star who launches a dark horse campaign to have the No. 1 single at Christmas, a “festering turd of a record” called “Christmas is All Around.”

Nighy owned the role so thoroughly that I assumed he was someone famous that I’d just never heard of. Turns out, he was someone a lot of people hadn’t heard of. His work until that point consisted of theater, television and some lesser known movies.

His portrayal of Billy Mack was simply unforgettable and still cracks me up. For example:


3) Some people in England actually preferred Hugh Grant’s foreign policy to Tony Blair’s.

During the early 2000s, British Prime Minister Tony Blair caught a lot of flack for sticking up for U.S. President George W. Bush and America’s foreign policy.

In the move, the Prime Minister played by Hugh Grant, the charmingly befuddled star of many a romantic comedy, gives a feisty speech in the presence of the American president played by Billy Bob Thornton. His remarks are a hit with the British people.

But in the real world, where Blair lives, foreign policy decisions are always based on harsh realities, not wishful thinking. Blair actually made reference to the movie in a 2005 speech.

“I know there’s a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in ‘Love Actually’ and tell America where to get off,” Blair said. “But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there’s the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause.”

Here’s what Hugh Grant had to say about that.


4) The director actually had to edit Olivia Olson’s singing so it wouldn’t sound professional.

In the movie, Sam – played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster – has a crush on an American girl named Joanna, played by Olivia Olson. Sam learns to play the drums so he can win Joanna’s heart during a Christmas concert. According to IMDb, Olson’s rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is You” was so good that director Richard Curtis had it edited so it would sound more like a child’s voice than a professional singer.


5) The word “actually” is said 22 times in the movie.

I applaud the movie trivia nerds contributing to IMDb for actually taking the time to count them all.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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