40 Little-Known Love Actually Secrets

With nine storylines interweaved through its 135-minute running time, Love Actually changed the Christmas movie game upon its release in 2003. The star-studded hit has become a holiday season staple, and even 20 glorious years later, it still resonates with fans worldwide. But do you know what might make you enjoy your umpteenth rewatch this festive season even more? A deep dive into the lesser-known details, deleted scenes, and on-set secrets of everyone's favorite holiday flick.

Bill Nighy auditioned by accident

Bill Nighy, an actor with an uncanny knack for stealing the show however big or small his role, plays jaded rocker Billy Mack. But did you know he didn’t officially audition for the part? In 2013 he told website The Daily Beast, “I did a rehearsal reading of the script as a favor to the great casting director who had been trying to get me into a film for a long time. I thought it was simply to help her hear the script aloud and to my genuine surprise I was given the job.”

And after two decades, we can safely say that we wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Thank goodness Nighy owed someone a favor — or who knows what Billy Mack we'd be watching every year!

Rowan Atkinson’s character was supposed to be supernatural

“Would you like it… gift wrapped?” Speaking of stealing the show with a small part, Rowan Atkinson famously plays Rufus, the jewelry store clerk whose painfully slow service almost drives Alan Rickman’s character crazy. Atkinson appears again later in the movie, making a distraction so that young Sam can complete his mad airport dash.

Fascinatingly, director Richard Curtis initially planned for Atkinson’s character to have more of an ethereal presence. In the original script, Rufus was written as an actual angel, whose slow service and distraction techniques help stop Harry from having an affair and allow Sam to kiss the girl he likes. Perhaps wisely, Curtis scrapped the offbeat idea, but the guardian angel thing is still kinda cool.

Martine McCutcheon’s role was written for her

While hugely familiar to British audiences thanks to her role in the soap opera EastEnders, Martine McCutcheon was a virtual unknown in the States before Love Actually took off. That didn’t deter Richard Curtis from writing the part of Natalie, the prime minister’s love interest, especially for her, though.

In 2013 he told British newspaper The Guardian, “I even called the character Martine, though I had to change it before the read-through so she didn’t think she’d already got it.”

Harry really did have an affair

In 2015 the film’s script editor and Richard Curtis’ wife, Emma Freud, live-tweeted a Love Actually screening in which she answered several followers’ burning questions. And there was one plot line that fans were eager to get to the bottom of.

When asked whether Alan Rickman’s Harry really did cheat on his wife, Freud made things crystal clear, replying, “[He] definitely had an affair. I begged Richard just to make it a flirtation. But, no, the whole way.”