Love Actually: Where are they now?
Love Actually, then and now
In 2003, an interconnected group of Londoners showed us that love actually is all around in what has become one of the most beloved contemporary Christmas classics. We feel it in our fingers, we feel it in our toes — the warmth and laughs of the Richard Curtis flick that united the likes of Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, and Emma Thompson into the ultimate holiday-themed rom-com.
Though we all have our thoughts on which plot is best in the overstuffed Christmas present, we can agree that it displays a memorable range of talent across the board. From well-established stars to newcomers who have gone on to bigger fame, Love Actually truly boasts an all-star cast. Thanks to a Red Nose Day special in 2017 we know what their characters have been up to in the years since, but where are the actors now? See what projects have kept the cast busy, ahead.
Bill Nighy (Billy Mack)
A long-established and revered stage actor in England, Nighy rose to international prominence with his outrageous portrayal of off-the-rails, aging rock star Billy Mack. Bill Nighy parlayed that role into several blockbuster franchises – donning a CGI squid face as the dastardly Davy Jones in multiple Pirates of the Caribbean films and portraying Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. He reunited with Richard Curtis for a tear-jerking role as the time-traveling father of Domhnall Gleeson in 2013’s About Time. He played a role in each of the loosely connected Simon Pegg-led films of the Cornetto Trilogy – Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and, The World’s End. He also has a recurring role as Viktor in the Underworld vampire series. Nighy maintains a diverse career doing animated films (Rango), television (Page Eight, Doctor Who), action films (Wrath of the Titans), and heartwarming indies (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Most recently Nighy appeared in Pokémon Detective Pikachu and Hope Gap in 2019, and the third season of Castlevania on Netflix and Emma in 2020.
Colin Firth (Jamie)
Colin Firth was one of the reigning kings of the rom-com when he took on the part of jilted writer Jamie who finds love with his Portuguese housekeeper in spite of their language barrier. Known as the thinking woman’s cup of tea ever since he took a dive in a lake as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Firth had carved a niche for himself as a particular type of sweet but bumbling leading man who felt quintessentially English to Anglophiles around the world. He continued in this vein, reprising his role as Mark Darcy in two Bridget Jones sequels, slipping into spandex for Mamma Mia!, and returning to his period film roots with Nanny McPhee. Firth also traded in rom-com fun for prestige pictures, earning his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a gay man grieving his lover in A Single Man. He won for 2010’s The King’s Speech, in which he portrayed the stuttering King George VI. Projects since have included producing efforts (Loving), action flicks (Kingsman franchise), and thrillers (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Continuing with his British roots, Firth has recently appeared in Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917, the 2020 adaptation of The Secret Garden, and will be featured traveling the English countryside in Supernova in 2021.
Liam Neeson (Daniel)
Liam Neeson had a solid record of prestige period pieces under his belt and a quintessential role as Qui-Gonn Jinn in the Star Wars prequels when he took on the role of grieving husband and best-stepdad-ever Daniel in Love Actually. He gave voice to the lion Aslan in the The Chronicles of Narnia films and played a key role in Batman Begins immediately following, but his career hit a new high when he played a dad with a “very particular set of skills” in Taken. He continued his streak as an action star with two Taken sequels, The Grey, Clash of the Titans, and The A-Team adaptation. He also returned to the Christopher Nolan Batman films playing a key role in The Dark Knight Rises. He sent up his tough-guy image voicing Bad Cop/Good Cop in The Lego Movie. He portrayed key informant Mark Felt in the Watergate case in a film about the man known as Deep Throat, played a master criminal in Widows, and helped keep the planet safe in Men in Black: International. Action is back on the slate for Neeson, with The Marksman and The Ice Road due out in 2021.
Emma Thompson (Karen)
Emma Thompson had already earned her rep as one of Britain’s finest talents, winning an Oscar for her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, when Richard Curtis brought her in to play Karen, a hard-working mother and victim of adultery (if you don’t cry when she listens to Joni Mitchell, you have no heart). Thompson next took up a key role in the Harry Potter franchise as questionably accurate Divination professor Sybill Trelawney. She both starred in and adapted two Nanny McPhee films based on popular children’s books. She starred as the intimidating Lady Marchmain in the remake of Brideshead Revisited, as well as portraying the complex and disagreeable Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. Thompson helped pen Bridget Jones’ Baby and also starred as the title character’s OB-GYN, Dr. Rawlings. She appeared as Mrs. Potts in the live-action Beauty and the Beast and in The Meyerowitz Stories. and again had triple-duty on 2019’s Last Christmas as writer, producer, and costar. Fans will see Thompson next as Baroness to Emma Stone’s young Cruella de Vil for the 101 Dalmations character's origin story in Cruella.
Kris Marshall (Colin Frissell)
Marshall transitioned from a lead role on BBC sitcom My Family to one of the most memorable characters in Love Actually, Colin Frissell – the Brit who believes he’s on the “wrong continent” and travels to America to pick up girls with his “cute British accent.” After the film, he stayed with My Family until 2005. He’s had recurring roles on several British television shows, including Citizen Khan, Lightfields, and Traffic Light. He’s also twice played a detective on two British series, Murder City and Death in Paradise. Most recently he starred in ITV’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon in 2019 and the BBC’s We Hunt Together, which was picked up in America by Showtime in 2020.
Heike Makatsch (Mia)
German actress Heike Makatsch made a splash as Dr. Lisa Addison in the Resident Evil film before portraying sexually aggressive secretary Mia in Love Actually. Since then, she’s primarily worked in German film and television, though she did portray Leisel’s mother in the big-screen adaptation of The Book Thief.
Martin Freeman (John)
Martin Freeman was best known for portraying lovesick office worker Tim on the original British version of The Office when Richard Curtis recruited him to play body double John, who has a charming blooming relationship with his onscreen partner in nudity “Just Judy.” In 2005, he portrayed the main character Arthur Dent in a film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and his career has taken off from there. Beginning in 2010, he plays Dr. John Watson opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s phenomenally popular modern update of Sherlock. In 2012, he headlined his own Lord of the Rings franchise portraying Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, a role he would reprise in two additional films. He also gave a highly praised turn as Minnesotan police officer Lester Nygaard in the first season of FX’s Fargo. After a second round as his Marvel Cinematic Universe character Everett K. Ross in 2018’s Black Panther, Freeman appeared with Diane Kruger in 2019’s The Operative, and currently is starring in a show he co-created, Breeders.
Joanna Page (Just Judy)
Page had starred in several British miniseries and worked steadily onstage when she took on the role of charming body double “Just Judy” in Love Actually. She has continued to work steadily in British television since, most notably portraying the title character in the James Corden created sitcom Gavin & Stacey. She starred as Queen Elizabeth I in the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Peter)
Chiwetel Ejiofor was virtually unknown to American audiences when he took on the minor role of Peter, Keira Knightley’s character’s husband and best friend to Andrew Lincoln’s lovelorn Mark. He continued to turn in solid work for several years, playing drag queen Lola in Kinky Boots and supporting roles in Children of Men and American Gangster. His career reached new heights in 2013 when he earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Solomon Northup, a free man sold into slavery, in 12 Years a Slave. Since then, he appeared in The Martian opposite Matt Damon and joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Mordo in Doctor Strange. He portrayed Scar live-action update of The Lion King, tracked down Charlize Theron’s Andy in Netflix’s Old Guard in 2020, and will appear in Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, due out in 2021.
Andrew Lincoln (Mark)
Andrew Lincoln portrays one of the most polarizing characters in Love Actually, the lovesick Mark who shows up at his best friend’s house to tell said friend’s wife he loves her in a series of handwritten posters (creepy or swoon-inducing? Your call). He continued to work in British television and portrayed Edgar in an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, but he was launched to international recognition in 2010 when cast as the main character Sheriff Rick Grimes in AMC’s adaptation of The Walking Dead. Apart from reprising his role in Red Nose Day Actually, Lincoln has primarily focused on portraying Rick Grimes since then with one notable exception — starring in the Naomi Watts-produced Penguin Bloom in 2020.
Keira Knightley (Juliet)
Keira Knightley was only 18 when Love Actually dropped in 2003, but it proved to be a breakout year for her. After winning audiences over in 2002 with Bend it Like Beckham, Knightley fast-tracked to superstardom as Elizabeth Swann in the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and dream girl Juliet in Love Actually in 2003. In 2005, she earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, making her a go-to talent for period pieces like The Duchess, Anna Karenina, and more. In 2007, she portrayed Cecilia Tallis in the adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement. She received her second Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Bletchley code-breaker and fiancé to Alan Turing, Joan Clarke, in 2014’s The Imitation Game. In 2017, she reprised both Juliet and Elizabeth Swann in Red Nose Day and a Pirates sequel respectively. After playing the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in 2018, Knightley portrayed British whistleblower Katharine Gun in Official Secrets, and an officer’s wife in post-WW II Germany in The Aftermath, both released in 2019. 2020 saw Knightley return to comedy with Misbehaviour, and her next film, Silent Night, looks to be another holiday delight.
Hugh Grant (The Prime Minister a.k.a. David)
Hugh Grant is arguably writer-director Richard Curtis’ greatest muse, first rising to fame and his rom-com leading man status in Curtis’ Four Weddings and a Funeral and subsequently appearing in the writer’s Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Love Actually as a dancing prime minister inconveniently in love with one of his employees. After Love Actually, Grant continued to hit his rom-com sweet spot, appearing in a Bridget Jones sequel and Wham! send-up Music and Lyrics. He also played against type in multiple roles in time-spanning Cloud Atlas. Grant returned to his period piece roots, best showcased in Sense and Sensibility, as Meryl Streep’s devoted and long-suffering husband in Florence Foster Jenkins, then followed that up by dancing his way through Paddington 2, and portraying politician Jeremy Thorpe in the British miniseries, A Very English Scandal, and a part of Guy Ritchie’s The Gentleman. Currently he can been seen in HBO’s The Undoing opposite Nicole Kidman.
Martine McCutcheon (Natalie)
McCutcheon is probably still best known to audiences for her portrayal of Natalie, a foul-mouthed employee of the Prime Minister who finds herself falling for the leader of her country (and her boss). She’s since appeared on numerous British television shows, including Midsomer Murders and Echo Beach. In 2013, she officially declared bankruptcy. In the late 90s, McCutcheon was also a successful British pop star and 2017 saw the release of her fourth studio album, Lost and Found, which was the highest of her records on the charts since her debut album in 1999. McCutcheon appeared in 2018’s The Bromley Boys, and keeps busy with appearances on recent British versions of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Celebrity Supermarket Sweep, and Comedy Game Night in 2020.
Laura Linney (Sarah)
Laura Linney was already a highly respected actress, having been Oscar nominated for 2001’s You Can Count on Me, when she took on the role of Sarah – an American gal whose crush on her co-worker is derailed by her role as caretaker for her mentally ill brother. Since Love Actually, Linney has earned two more Oscar nominations for her work in Kinsey and The Savages. She won an Emmy for her portrayal of first lady Abigail Adams in the 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams, as well as for her work headlining four seasons of cancer dramedy series The Big C. Most recently, she can be seen opposite Jason Bateman in Netflix’s drama Ozark, a part that has earned her two Emmy nominations, the miniseries Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (also on Netflix), in addition to starring in Viggo Mortensen’s Falling and Sally Porter’s The Roads Not Taken.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Sam)
Sangster made his feature film debut at the age of 12 as the lovelorn Sam who chases his crush through Heathrow airport to proclaim his love. He has continued to work steadily since, voicing Ferb in Disney Channel animated series Phineas and Ferb and playing a young Paul McCartney in Nowhere Boy. He’s appeared in projects as varied as Jane Campion’s Bright Star, two episodes of Doctor Who, and the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Many now know him as Jojen Reed on Game of Thrones or as Newt in The Maze Runner films. Most recently, he can be seen as Whitey Winn in Steven Soderbergh’s Netflix Western drama Godless, and as Benny Watts in The Queen's Gambit.
Alan Rickman (Harry)
By the time he appeared as the adulterous Harry in Love Actually, Alan Rickman was already one of the most distinctive actors of his generation for his work in films like Die Hard, Sense and Sensibility, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Galaxy Quest. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Severus Snape across seven Harry Potter films, a character essential to the series for his vacillation between hero and villain. In 2007, he changed things up, appearing in a musical as the lecherous Judge Turpin in the screen adaptation of Sweeney Todd. Rickman died in January 2016 at the age of 69.
Rodrigo Santoro (Karl)
Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro was very new to Hollywood when he took on the role of hunky, enigmatic Karl — object of Laura Linney’s Sarah’s affections. In 2006, he took on perhaps his best-remembered role as Persian emperor Xerxes in 300, a role he reprised in 2014 sequel. He also portrayed Paulo on Lost, as well as featuring as Jesus in 2016’s remake of Ben-Hur. In addition to starring in many Spanish language films and television series, he has continued to carve a place for himself in Hollywood, recently starring alongside Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Project Power. Currently, he can be seen as Hector Escaton on HBO’s Westworld.
Lúcia Moniz (Aurelia)
As Aurelia, Colin Firth’s Jamie’s housekeeper, Moniz speaks very little English in the film, instead delivering her lines in her native Portuguese. She became part of one of the film’s most beloved segments and featured in the Red Nose Actually update. Since 2003, Moniz has appeared in numerous Portuguese film and television series, as well as released two albums. Moniz is a singer who had released two albums prior to Love Actually and provided dubbing for the speaking and singing voice of Anastasia in the Portuguese release of the animated 1997 film.
Billy Bob Thornton (The U.S. President)
Billy Bob Thornton had two Oscars to his credit for A Simple Plan and Sling Blade when he made a cameo appearance as the smarmy U.S. president in Love Actually. That same year he portrayed the title character in Bad Santa, a role he reprised in a 2016 sequel. He has appeared in a wide range of films since including Our Brand is Crisis, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Mr. Woodcock, and Friday Night Lights. He also has appeared in multiple seasons of FX’s Fargo as Lorne Malvo. Currently, he can be seen as the lead character on Amazon’s Goliath, and heard on the country musical podcast, Making It Up As We Go.
Rowan Atkinson (Rufus, the jewelry salesman)
Best known for his roles on British sitcoms Blackadder and Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson brought his signature brand of bumbling humor to his cameo as an overzealous salesman in Love Actually. Atkinson had a long-running relationship with writer-director Richard Curtis, having co-written the Blackadder television series with him. In the years since, Atkinson has continued to play his most popular character Mr. Bean, including in an animated series and in a sketch at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. He has also appeared as a hapless British spy in three Johnny English films and a series of television films as famous fictional French detective Jules Maigret.