Love Actually | 2003
- DIRECTOR |
- Richard Curtis
- CAST |
- Hugh Grant,
- Martine McCutcheon,
- Alan Rickman,
- Liam Neeson,
- Chiwetel Ejiofor,
- Colin Firth,
- Keira Knightley,
- Bill Nighy,
- Emma Thompson,
- Billy Bob Thornton,
- Andrew Lincoln,
- Laura Linney,
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster,
- Kris Marshall,
- Edward Hardwicke,
- January Jones,
- Elisha Cuthbert,
- Rodrigo Santoro,
- Meg Wynn Owen,
- Shannon Elizabeth
- LONDON locations
- ▶ Heathrow Airport, Longford (bookend sequences)
- ▶ Whiteleys Centre Queensway, Bayswater, W2 (establishing shots of London)
- ▶ Central Court, Somerset House, Strand, WC2 (establishing shots of London)
- ▶ Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, W1 (department store where Harry buys necklace)
- ▶ 2a Blenheim Road, Turnham Green, W4 (London home of writer Jamie Bennett)
- ▶ Westway Studios, 8 Olaf Street, Notting Hill, W11 (Billy Mack records Christmas single)
- ▶ City Hall, The Queen's Walk, Southwark, SE1 (Billy Mack's record company office)
- ▶ Heat Radio, Mappin House, 4 Winsley Street, Fitzrovia, W1 (Billy Mack's radio interview)
- ▶ 26-27 Great Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, EC1 (Mark's 'South Bank' gallery)
- ▶ Gabriel’s Wharf, The Queen’s Walk, Southwark, SE1 (widowed Daniel has heart-to-heart with his son)
- ▶ Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, Southwark, SE1 (Mark's home)
- ▶ St Paul’s Clapham, Rectory Grove, Clapham, SW4 (funeral for Daniel's wife)
- ▶ Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair, W1 (wedding of Peter and Juliet)
- ▶ 102 Poplar Road, Herne Hill, SE24 (the PM finds Natalie at her home in 'Wandsworth')
- ▶ Ark Putney Academy, Pullman Gardens, Putney, SW15 (the school Christmas concert)
- ▶ 27 St Luke’s Mews, Notting Hill, W11 (Mark silently declares his love with cue cards)
- SURREY locations
- ▶ Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher (the 'airport' from which Colin departs for Wisconsin)
- FRANCE locations
- ▶ Le Bar de la Marine, 15 quai de Rive Neuve, Old Port, Marseille (the French restaurant where Jamie declares his love for Aurelia)
The ultimate London romcom comes on like a 'Greatest Hits' package, with director Richard Curtis delivering eight feelgood climaxes as he commits grievous bodily assault on the tearducts, swept along by Craig Armstrong's swooningly emotional score.
▶ The movie opens and closes at London's major air terminal, 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. ⏏
The 'Five weeks to Christmas' swiftly establishes the city.
▶ The galleried atrium is that of Whiteley’s Centre, Queensway, Bayswater, W2, the vast department store dating from 1911 but had a complete makeover in 1989. It's where Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) uses an old pedoscope (foot X-ray machine) to examine the contents of a flask in Ken Russell's 1967 Billion Dollar Brain, and where Julia Roberts holds her photographic exhibition in Mike Nichols’ film of Closer.
The store closed in 2018 and is supposedly being converted into a hotel. ⏏
The shopping street hung with festive lights is South Molton Street, which runs southeast from alongside Bond Street Tube Station on Oxford Street in the West End.
▶ The central court of Somerset House in the Strand, saw sterling service as a movie location over the years (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Duchess 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. In the summer, there are outdoor movie screenings. ⏏
And, of course, there's Trafalgar Square where a giant Christmas tree, a traditional gift from Norway, is erected every year.
▶ Over in the suburbs of West London, the private house at 2a Blenheim Road, Turnham Green, W4, was home to writer Jamie Bennett (Colin Firth), where he discovers his girlfriend in flagrante with his brother before fleeing to his cottage in France. ⏏
▶ Mack's record company office is unmistakably City Hall, the London Assembly Building on the South Bank with that view of Tower Bridge through the window. ⏏
▶ And the radio studio, where Billy Mack finally reveals that his record is crap and that Britney Spears was a lousy shag, is Heat Radio, Mappin House, 4 Winsley Street, off Oxford Street, London W1. ⏏
'Fairtrade Ltd', the workplace of Harry (Alan Rickman) and Sarah (Laura Linney), to which caterer Colin (Kris Marshall) delivers his 'Munch Mob' sandwiches behind the credits is EMA House on Tabernacle Street at Clere Street (mysteriously renamed 'Dowe Street' for the film, although the real "Formerly Paradise Street" sign remains), in Shoreditch, London EC2.
▶ The film's big set-piece 'surprise' wedding, as Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) marries Juliet (Keira Knightley) to the unexpected strains of All You Need Is Love, is conducted in the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, W1, just behind the posh Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane in the exclusive Mayfair district. Regular music concerts are held here – but don't expect them to be staged as elaborately as in the film. ⏏
▶ The ‘Nile Street’ gallery run by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), where Juliet calls him to ask if he has any video shots of the wedding, was an empty office – now a solicitors – at 23-25 Great Sutton Street, in trendy Clerkenwell, EC1 – which was Hugh Grant's neighbourhood in the 2002 film of Nick Hornby's About A Boy. ⏏
Alongside the 'gallery', at 26-27 Great Sutton Street, is the stretch of road where Harry is off to do his Christmas shopping as the flirtatious Mia (Heike Makatsch) phones him about her present.
It's in Selfridges that he furtively buys a necklace for Mia. 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. But you probably know all about the store from TV series Mr Selfridge, with Jeremy Piven as the business's founder.
▶ Oxford Street, an inexplicably crowded shopping hell, is expensive to close down on a weekday, or open up on a Sunday, it's rarely 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.
▶ The distraught Daniel (Liam Neeson) bravely weathers the strains of the Bay City Rollers at the funeral of his wife, held in St Paul’s Clapham, Rectory Grove, in Clapham, SW4, south of the Thames. ⏏
▶ On the South Bank of the River Thames, east of Waterloo Bridge and the National Theatre, is Gabriel’s Wharf, SE1, a section of Queen’s Walk (the walking path running alongside the south bank of the river). It's here, in front of the Riviera Restaurant, 56 Upper Ground, you’ll find the bench on which Daniel, during a heart-to-heart chat, discovers that his distracted son (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is – actually – in love.
The benches remain, though purists looking for the perfect photo op might be disappointed to learn that the benches have been very slightly re-positioned. Close enough, though. ⏏
▶ 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, SE1, through the courtyard to Oxo Tower Wharf itself.
The tower houses the Oxo Brasserie, featured in Thor: The Dark World. It’s also on the Thames pier here that disgracefully aging actor Maurice (Peter O’Toole) recites a speech from Macbeth for an unappreciative Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) in Venus. ⏏
▶ 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, W11. The original script called for him to carpet the mews with rose petals – an excellent change, I think.
This is a popular area – it’s in the same Mews 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 pub which became ‘The Mother Black Cap’ in cult favourite Withnail & I (finally demolished in 2010). ⏏
In these days of strict security, ‘10 Downing Street’, the official residence of the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), was represented by a set built onstage at Shepperton Studio.
▶ In a fairytale development, the PM realises he's in love with new staff member Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), and on Christmas Eve, races off to search for her in ‘the dodgy end of Wandsworth’.
This involves driving across Albert Bridge in Chelsea, SW3, one of the most charmingly extravagant Thames crossings, particularly as in the film, when illuminated at night.
Natalie's 'Wandsworth' home turns out to be 102 Poplar Road, Herne Hill, SE24, where he eventually finds her. ⏏
▶ She's on her way to a family outing, so it's during the a school concert at what was Elliott School, now Ark Putney Academy, Pullman Gardens, Putney, SW15, southwest London, that their relationship is revealed to an astonished public. ⏏
▶ You won’t find planes at the ‘airport’ from which Colin 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. ⏏
▶ And, away from London, the French 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, in the South of France, which was also the setting for Marcel Pagnol’s 1931 film Marius. ⏏