Then + Now: The Cast of ‘Love Actually’
The Christmas-themed romantic comedy ‘Love Actually’ features 10 different loosely interwoven storylines, which each explore a different aspect of love.
Set predominantly in London, the 2003 film had a large ensemble cast that included many of the most well-known British actors of the time period.
See what the stars of ‘Love Actually’ are up to these days below.
Hugh Grant (David)
Then: Grant used his signature charm to play David, the bachelor Prime Minister of England, who develops a crush on a member of his household staff. A star in England since the ’80s, Grant became an international sensation in 1994 thanks to ’Four Weddings and a Funeral’ — which was scripted by ‘Love Actually’ writer/director Richard Curtis — and had just come off of a critically acclaimed turn in ‘About a Boy.’
Now: Grant was recently part of ’Cloud Atlas,‘ another sprawling ensemble film, and then joined the cast of ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby,’ which is his third appearance in that franchise.
Martine McCutcheon (Natalie)
Then: Martine McCutcheon was Natalie, the staff member who flirts with, and eventually ends up with, Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister character. McCutcheon was also a pop star in her native England, with a debut single (‘A Perfect Moment’) that hit number one in five countries.
Now: McCutcheon’s last dramatic role was as star of the British drama ‘Echo Beach,’ which lasted one season in 2008. She is reportedly working on a new album.
Liam Neeson (Daniel)
Then: In “Love Actually,’ Neeson plays Daniel, a recently bereaved husband who cares for his young step-son. Sadly, the role foreshadowed Neeson’s real life, as he lost his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, in a 2009 skiing accident.
Now: The actor has undergone a somewhat unlikely transition from dramatic leading man to a family-rescuing, wolf-battling action hero. In 2012, Neeson showed off his “particular set of skills” in ‘Taken 2.’
Thomas Sangster (Sam)
Then: Thomas Sangster was 13 when he played Sam, Daniel’s stepson, who is dealing with both the loss of his mother and the sting of first love. ’Love Actually’ was his big screen debut.
Now: Sanster portrayed Jojen Reed in Season 3 of ‘Game of Thrones.’ The actor, now in his 20s, also plays bass in the band Winnet, which features his mother on vocals.
Bill Nighy (Billy Mack)
Then: You might remember Nighy as faded pop star Billy Mack, who gets career redemption on Christmas and then realizes the importance of his slovenly but loyal manager. Already a popular character actor in England, ‘Love Actually’ propelled him to more international roles, including the part of Davy Jones in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise.
Now: Nighy had recent supporting roles in ‘Total Recall’ and ‘Wrath of The Titans, followed by a part in the modern-day fairy tale ‘Jack and the Giant Slayer.’
Keira Knightley (Juliet)
Then: Young Keira Knightley made an impression in ‘Love Actually,’ in which she was a woman who has no idea her new husband’s best friend is also in love with her. Knightley was introduced to American audiences in 1999 as Sabe in ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’
Now: In 2012, Knightley played opposite Steve Carell in ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.’ She then starred in ‘Jack Ryan,’ which is yet another film adaptation featuring Tom Clancy’s super spy character.
Colin Firth (Jamie)
Then: It wouldn’t be a British rom-com without Firth, who played a broken-hearted author who finds love on the rebound in Portugal. At the time, Firth was best known to American audiences for playing Mark Darcy in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and Mr. Darcy in the hit BBC production of ‘Pride & Prejudice.’
Now: Firth took the 2011 Academy Award for Best Actor of his portrayal of King George VI in ‘The King’s Speech.’ The actor then took parts in ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ and the West Memphis Three-inspired ‘Devil’s Knot’ on the horizon.
Emma Thompson (Karen)
Then: Emma Thompson shouldered much of the drama in ‘Love Actually’ as a woman who is surprised to learn her husband has romantic designs on one of his co-workers. Born into a family of actors, Thompson had previously been known for her work in costume dramas like ‘Remains of the Day’ and ‘Howard’s End,’ for which she won an Oscar.
Now: In 2012, Thompson was Agent O in ‘Men In Black 3′ and the voice of Elinor Pixar’s ‘Brave,’ and she then starrred in ‘Beautiful Creatures.’
Alan Rickman (Harry)
Then: In ‘Love Actually,’ Rickman played Harry, Karen’s “foolish” husband who enters into an affair. The then 57-year-old actor got a late start in movies, with his first major role being diabolical villain Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard.’
Now: While Rickman has now had a long and accomplished career, an entire generation will mostly know him for the Professor Severus Snape role he played in all eight ‘Harry Potter’ flicks. Everyone else still thinks of him as Hans Gruber.
Laura Linney (Sarah)
Then: Linney added an American accent to ‘Love Actually’ as an office worker whose dedication to her mentally disturbed brother burdens her love life. Her major big screen breakthrough had come in 2000’s ‘You Can Count on Me,’ another movie that dealt with family obligations and sibling relationships.
Now: The actress currently stars on the Showtime dramedy ‘The Big C.’ Also an accomplished stage actor, Linney has three Tony nominations under her belt.
Martin Freeman (John)
Then: By the time Freeman appeared in ‘Love Actually,’ he was recognizable as Tim from the BBC version of ‘The Office.’ Notably (to some), he had also made an appearance in ‘Ali G Indahouse.’ To our knowledge, ‘Love Actually’ is the first time you get to see his naked rear end.
Now: Freeman has worked consistently for the past decade, with memorable turns in ‘Shaun of the Dead,’ ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and ‘Hot Fuzz.’ More recently, Freeman has taken on the role of Watson in the critically acclaimed series ‘Sherlock.’ Oh, and he’s the lead in a move you might have heard of… what’s it called… oh, right, ‘The Hobbit.’ No biggie.
Andrew Lincoln (Mark)
Then: When ‘Love Actually’ was released, Andrew Lincoln was probably best known from his work on ‘This Life’ and ‘Teachers’ — two British television series. In ‘Love Actually,’ he’s the guy who tries to seduce Keira Knightley with some big posterboard cards, and it’s really awkward.
Now: Lincoln picked up a (pretty heavy) Southern accent to play the part of Rick Grimes on AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,’ which is nice for him, since that’s the longest-surviving character in the comic book series.