Love Actually, 2003
- Hugh Grant
- Martine McCutcheon
- Alan Rickman
- Liam Neeson
- Chiwetel Ejiofor
- Colin Firth
- Keira Knightley
- Bill Nighy
- Emma Thompson
- Billy Bob Thornton
- Andrew Lincoln
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster
- Edward Hardwicke
- January Jones
- Elisha Cuthbert
- Rodrigo Santoro
visit the film locations
Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, W1
Whiteley’s, Bayswater, W2
City Hall, the London Assembly Building on the South Bank alongside Tower Bridge.
Surrey: Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher (rail: Esher, from London Waterloo)
The British romcom is being honed to a solid box-office formula: quality cast, slickly crafted script (there's a novelty in itself), audience-grabbing musical moment, a tearjerkingly satisfying wrap-up and that inevitable fixture of the genre, Hugh Grant. Maybe in years to come they'll be remembered as fondly as the Ealing comedies or the Carry Ons. Maybe.
Love Actually filming location: All You Need Is Love – actually: the wedding at Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair, London
The movie opens and closes at Heathrow Airport, with Hugh Grant's voiceover reassuring us of the ubiquity of warm, fuzzy feelings. The shots of emotional travellers were grabbed documentary-style. Don't worry. Your furtive assignation won't be up there on the big screen – everyone who's featured gave permission to be in the film.
Love Actually filming location: dressed for Christmas: Whiteley's, Bayswater, London
This is a London romcom, so we get the inevitable establishing shots of the city. The galleried atrium, decked out for Christmas, is that of Whiteley’s, the vast Bayswater department store. This is also where Julia Roberts holds her photographic exhibition in Mike Nichols’ film of Closer.
The central court of Somerset House in the Strand, saw sterling service as a movie location over the years (GoldenEye, Sleepy Hollow etc) when it was a rather dull parking lot. Since the building’s renovation, it has been transformed into a pleasant fountain court and, in winter, a skating rink, which is how it appears in the film’s opening montage.
Love Actually filming location: Alan Rickman buys the necklace: Selfridge’s, Oxford Street, London
Oxford Street, an inexplicably crowded shopping hell, is expensive to close down on a weekday, or open up on a Sunday, it”s rarely been seen on screen, though it’s featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy – but the magic name of Richard Curtis coaxed Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, W1, to open its doors for filming.
After meeting up with his wife Karen (Emma Thompson) at nearby St Christopher’s Place, Harry (Alan Rickman) furtively buys a necklace for flirtatious Mia (Heike Makatsch) in the store. The shop assistant character (Rowan Atkinson), who makes such an elaborate job of wrapping the gift, was originally meant to be a recurring deus ex machina angel character (which is why he reappears with an unexplained knowing smile at the airport towards the end of the film).
One of the first great department stores, there's been a Selfridges on this site since 1909. If you find the sculptural frontage too modest, you’ll be disappointed to learn that a plan to crown the building with a gigantic tower was never realised.
Love Actually filming location: Jamie discovers his girlfriend in flagrante: Blenheim Road, Turnham Green, London
The recording studio, where Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records his cheesy Christmas record, is Westway Studios, Ladbroke Grove in Notting Hill. His record company office is unmistakably City Hall, the London Assembly Building on the South Bank alongside Tower Bridge.
Love Actually filming location: Andrew Lincoln's ‘South Bank’ gallery: Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, London
The ‘South Bank’ gallery run by Mark (Andrew Lincoln) isn't on the South bank at all, of course. It was an empty office – now a solicitors – at 26-27 Great Sutton Street, in Clerkenwell – which was Hugh Grant's neighbourhood in About A Boy.
Love Actually filming location: Liam Neeson’s heart-to-heart: Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank, London
Queen’s Walk is the path running alongside the south ban of the River Thames. On Gabriel’s Wharf, in front of the Riviera Restaurant, 56 Upper Ground, you’ll find the bench on which Daniel (Liam Neeson), during a heart-to-heart chat, discovers that his distracted son (Thomas Sangster) is – actually – in love.
Slightly further east along the walk is the Oxo Tower Wharf complex, home to Mark, where he embarrassedly leaves Juliet (Keira Knightley) with the wedding video. He exits the flat by the rear entrance of the wharf building on Barge House Street, through the courtyard to Oxo Tower Wharf itself. It’s on the pier here that disgracefully ageing actor Maurice (Peter O’Toole) recites a speech from Macbeth for an unappreciative Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) in Venus.
The church in which Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) marries Juliet to the unexpected strains of All You Need Is Love, is the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, in the exclusive Mayfair district. Daniel buries his wife at St Paul’s Church, Rectory Grove , in Clapham SW4, south of the Thames.
Love Actually filming location: ‘the dodgy end of Wandsworth’: Poplar Road, Herne Hill, London
The PM searches for Natalie in ‘the dodgy end of Wandsworth’, though it's really 102 Poplar Road, Herne Hill that he eventually finds her. And, in these days of strict security, ‘10 Downing Street’ was a set built in the studio at Shepperton Studio.
You won’t find planes at the ‘airport’ from which Colin (Kris Marshall) departs to find fulfillment in Wisconsin. It’s not an airport at all, but Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, about 15 miles southwest of London, in Surrey. What is it with racecourses standing in for airports? Sandown previously stood in for ‘Johannesburg Airport’ in Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom, and ‘St Petersburg Airport’ in GoldenEye is Epsom Racecourse. The ‘Wisconsin’ bar itself, by the way, was no further away than a set built on the Shepperton backlot.
The radio studio, where Billy Mack reveals that his record is crap and that Britney Spears was a lousy shag, is Heat Radio, Mappin House, 4 Winsley Street, London W1.
Love Actually filming location: Mark declares his love silently: St Luke’s Mews, Notting Hill, London
In the heart Notting Hill, the home of newlyweds Peter and Juliet – where sadly lovestruck Mark silently declares his love with cue cards, is 27 St Luke’s Mews. The original script called for him to carpet the mews with rose petals – a gesture which surely would have had every female in the audience shoving a finger down her throat and gagging.
It’s in this mews, too, that Bill Murray gets mugged, all the while assuming it’s part of the ‘Theatre of Life’ experience, in Jon Amiel’s comedy thriller The Man Who Knew Too Little. And a couple of minutes away stood the restaurant which became ‘The Mother Black Cap’ in cult favourite Withnail & I (finally demolished in 2010).
And, away from London, the ‘Portuguese’ restaurant, where writer Jamie finally declares his love for Aurelia (Lucia Moniz) is Le Bar de la Marine, 15 quai de Rive Neuve, the Old Port in Marseille (tel: 91 54 95 42), in the South of France, which was also the setting for Marcel Pagnol’s 1931 film Marius.