Love is all around! 2003’s
Love Actually may have been mainly focused on England-based romances, but it has become a worldwide holiday staple among its fans.
The rom-com begins five weeks before Christmas and takes viewers on multiple journeys of love and romance. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, 10 separate stories are told, most of which crossover with one another. The thing that binds them all together? Love.
The ensemble includes
Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Andrew Lincoln, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and more.
In the film, Neeson’s Daniel tries to navigate the loss of his wife, while guiding his stepson Sam (
Thomas Brodie-Sangster) through his first love experience.
Meanwhile, Daniel’s friend Karen (Thompson) is trying to decide how to move forward with her marriage after her husband, Harry (Alan Rickman), begins flirting with his receptionist.
As Karen’s relationship is being tested, her brother David (Grant) is settling into his new role as Prime Minister — which he does by dancing like no one’s watching through his new residence.
Throughout the film, washed-up rock star Billy Mack (
Bill Nighy) is focused on his musical comeback, recording “Christmas Is All Around.” The song becomes the anthem for the season that plays in the background as even more love stories unfold, including John ( Martin Freeman) and Judy ( Joanna Page) who meet while filming a sex scene for a movie.
Romance is in high supply in the fan-favorite holiday flick, especially when Mark (Lincoln) professes his love using cue cards to Juliet (
Keira Knightley), whom is married to his best friend Peter ( Chiwetel Ejiofor). It can also be seen when Jamie (Firth) learns Portuguese to propose to his housekeeper Aurélia ( Lúcia Moniz).
Nearly two decades later, the heartwarming story still resonates with fans who feel it in their fingers and feel it in their toes. Creator
Richard Curtis couldn’t be happier about the film’s staying power and how the cast has stayed charming from year to year — even while filming the 2017 minisequel Red Nose Day Actually.
“What was so sweet was that people’s fundamental characters haven’t changed much over 15 years,” Curtis told
The New York Times in May 2017, when speaking about the mini-reunion the cast did for NBC’s Red Nose Day. “Keira was cast for the youthfulness and cheerfulness of her spirit, and she is still like that. Bill is everlastingly young and irresponsible; Liam terribly paternal. Hugh Grant behaved well for one week of the original shoot, very badly for the rest, and did exactly the same thing over one day now. It’s rather reassuring.”
Scroll down to see what some of the main characters in
Love Actually have been up to since the film’s 2003 release.
Neeson’s Daniel famously helps his stepson Sam (Brodie-Sangster) navigate first love while they mourn the loss of his wife, Joanna. The actor has since become a predominantly action-based star, leading the Taken franchise and starring in The Grey, Cold Pursuit and The Marksman. He also appeared in Widows, Men in Black: International and Made in Italy. The Northern Ireland native lost his real-life love, Natasha Richardson, after a skiing accident in 2009 and has since raised their two sons alone.
The England native’s role as lovestruck Sam was his first feature film. As he’s grown in Hollywood his roles have gotten bigger, starring in Nanny McPhee, Nowhere Boy, and Newt in The Maze Runner franchise. He voiced Ferb on Disney Channel’s Phineas and Ferb for four seasons, before landing the role of John Tracy on Thunderbirds Are Go. He also played Jojen Reed on Game of Thrones. In 2010, Brodie-Sangster joined the band Winnet, as the bass guitarist, alongside his family. He played Benny Watts in the Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit.
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Olson played Sam’s love interest, and musical pageant partner Joanna in Love Actually. She was 11 years old when she nabbed the role. The L.A. native reunited with her movie beau, Brodie-Sangster, on Phineas and Ferb in 2008 and voiced Vanessa until its 2015 end. He other voice work includes Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls and Fast & Furious Spy Racers. The actress released her first solo album, Nowhere Land, in 2018 and a year later she competed on The X Factor: Celebrity.
Firth’s character Jamie was heartbroken at the beginning of the movie, but he finds love with his Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia (Moniz) in the end. In addition to the rom-com, the Oscar winner has had a major career. His hits include The King’s Speech, the Mamma Mia! movies and the Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise. He has also starred in the Kingsman films, Mary Poppins Returns and The Secret Garden. In 2019, the English actor split from wife Livia Giuggioli after 22 years of marriage. The couple shares two children.
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Moniz won over Jamie’s (Firth) heart as Aurélia and famously learned English for him before he asked for her hand in marriage in the film. The Portuguese actress has since appeared on numerous TV shows, including Vingança, Aqui Não Há Quem Viva, Olhos nos Olhos and Na Corda Bamba. She also starred in Fatima, Thirty Minutes and Sombra. Moniz released five albums, the latest being 2015’s Calendar (Vidisco). In 2004, she welcomed her daughter Júlia.
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Grant’s dancing scene as David, the newly elected Prime Minister of England, is one of the most memorable in the film. Plus, his character gets caught snogging (kissing) his former worker Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) at the school play! After the 2003 role, Grant appeared in rom-coms including the Bridget Jones films and Music and Lyrics. He’s also the star of the Paddington franchise and appeared in The Gentlemen before landing the role of Jonathan Sachs in The Undoing. In 2018, Grant married TV producer Anna Elisabet Eberstein. The couple share three children. Grant also shares two children with Tinglan Hong.
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McCutcheon played David’s (Grant) love interest Natalie, who leaves her job after the U.S. President (played by Billy Bob Thornton) makes a pass at her. The EastEnders alum later returned to TV, appearing in Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach. She was also seen in The Bromley Boys. The actress, who shares one son with husband Jack McManus, released her fourth studio album in 2017 after taking a break from music in the mid-2000s. McCutcheon was diagnosed with Lyme disease in April 2017.
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Thompson took on the role of Karen, sister to the Prime Minister, and wife of Harry (Rickman) in the romance film. She also starred alongside her onscreen husband, Rickman, in three Harry Potter films. The Oscar winner has gained praise for her other works, like, the Nanny McPhee films, Saving Mr. Banks, Burnt, Beauty and the Beast and Late Night. She played Baroness in 2021’s live-action Cruella. Thompson has been married to Greg Wise since 2003 and shares two children with him.
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Rickman portrayed Harry, who had a wandering eye for his secretary, but was found out by his wife ahead of the children’s concert. The following year, the actor was nominated for an Emmy for his role on Something the Lord Made. He also starred in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland. One of the British actor’s biggest roles was playing Professor Snape in the Harry Potter franchise from 2001 to 2011. Throughout his career he acted in plays and starred on Broadway. Rickman died in January 2016 at the age of 69 after privately battling pancreatic cancer.
Throughout the movie, Linney’s Sarah is pulled in different directions, trying to balance her duty to her mentally ill brother and her longing for love with coworker Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). The actress quickly moved on from the rom-com with a role on Frasier, followed by John Adams. She then starred and was an executive producer on The Big C and Tales of the City. Linney starred in Nocturnal Animals before portraying Wendy Byrde on Ozark. The New York native shares a son with husband Marc Schauer, who she wed in 2009.
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Santoro’s Karl gets left in his underwear by Sarah (Linney) after her brother’s needs come first following the pair’s holiday party. The same year Santoro appeared in Love Actually, he starred on Women in Love. He followed it up with roles on Lost, Old River, Reprisal and Westworld. Film wise, the Brazilian actor appeared in The Immortal Warrior, 300 and voiced Tulio in the Rio franchise. Santoro shares daughter Nina with wife Mel Fronckowiak.
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Knightley’s character Juliet finds herself in love triangle after marrying Peter (Ejiofor) and later learning that his best man Mark (Lincoln) is in love with her. The Oscar-nominated actress then made a name for herself with Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and starring as Elizabeth Swan in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. She also acted in Anna Karenina, The Imitation Game, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and The Aftermath. In 2013, Knightley wed James Righton. The two have since welcomed two children.
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Lincoln’s character Mark famously tells his best friend’s wife, Juliet (Knightley), that he loves her using cue cards. After portraying the love-sick character, Lincoln appeared on Afterlife and Strike Back before landing his biggest role yet in 2010. He played Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead for nine seasons until 2018. The English actor has been married since 2006 and he’s the father of two children. Lincoln is set to make his TV return in Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming Cabinet of Curiosities anthology series on Netflix.
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Ejiofor’s Peter is blissfully unaware of his best friend’s feelings for his new bride — having had the most romantic wedding, partially planned by his BFF. In real life, the actor’s career is much more memorable with roles in Serenity, American Gangster and Salt before playing Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave. The London native earned an Oscar nomination for the role and then went on to star in The Martian and voice Scar in the live-action version of The Lion King. Ejiofor has also written and directed four films.
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The About Time actor portrayed washed-up rocker Billy Mack whose song, “Christmas Is All Around” soared to the top of the holiday charts. He has gone on to play Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, voice characters in Rango and Arthur Christmas and starred in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Golden Globe winner also took the stage in the play Skylight in both London’s West End and on Broadway. He later appeared on Castlevania. He is father of one child, daughter Mary.
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Fisher played Billy Mack’s (Nighy) longtime manager, Joe, who was continually overlooked but eventually recognized for his dedication to the rock star. TV-wise, Fisher starred on Rab C. Nesbitt from 1988 to 2014. He also appeared on the Oliver Twist mini-series, Empty and Love Life. The comedian published an autobiography, The Boy From Nowhere, in 2015. The Scottish actor shares two children with wife Vicki Burton.
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Freeman’s John is one half of the unlikely couple of John and Judy (Page), who meet while standing in for actors during a sex scene on a movie set. They even get engaged at the end of the film. Outside of Love Actually, Freeman is known for playing Bilbo in the Hobbit franchise. He also appeared on Fargo, Sherlock, StartUp and Breeders. He’s set to reprise his role as Everett K. Ross in the second Black Panther film in 2022. He shares two children with ex-wife Amanda Abbington.
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Page portrayed “Just Judy” as she calls herself, who meets John (Freeman) while simulating sex on a movie set. Over the years, the Welsh actress landed roles on Poppy Cat, The Syndicate, Breathless and Q Pootle 5. She later stared on Gavin & Stacey and was in Dolittle. Page’s theater credits include Cinderella and Private Lives. She married James Thornton in 2003 and together they have one daughter and two sons. Page announced her fourth pregnancy in August 2021.
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