Considering that Love Actually is a film with almost too many problematic relationships and conveniently interlocking storylines to count, it’s really quite a feat that Keira Knightley’s character, Juliet, and her awkward sign-based interaction with Andrew Lincoln’s Mark, has managed to inspire so much ire from viewers. After all, this is a film populated with terrible, terrible people: can we recall Kris Marshall’s Colin as a textbook example of toxic masculinity? Or perhaps remind you of the moment when Alan Rickman makes Emma Thompson cry, because he’s having an affair with a co-worker who seems to be unaware of the basic rules of social interaction?
And yet, despite all this, Keira’s Juliet is frequently cited as one of the film’s worst characters. If you need a quick recap, Juliet is the bride in Love Actually’s opening wedding scene, which features a musical flash mob to the tune of All You Need Is Love. However, her husband’s best man is in love with her, and has been using the wedding as an opportunity to collect video footage of Juliet at close range. It all comes to a head when he arrives on her doorstep (on Christmas Eve, no less) to declare his feelings ‘without hope or agenda’ through the medium of hand-written cards, before making a dramatic getaway to the zeitgeisty mid-Noughties strains of Here With Me by Dido.
Why does Juliet prove so annoying on your 1345th re-watching of this film? Is it her penchant for off-the-shoulder jumpers (no – because Martine McCutcheon’s Natalie wears tonnes of these, too) Is it because – bear with me here – the Richard Curtis rom-com machine grinds to a halt when it comes to likable female characters? Is it because she has terrible taste in pie (and this is her only discernible personality trait)? It’s hard to pinpoint, but what we do now know is that Keira isn’t exactly particularly fussed about Juliet, either.
NOW READ: Love Actually's Problematic Relationships: A Ranking
Peter and Juliet
Peter and Juliet are that couple. The ones who improbably live in a mews flat in Zone One, yet still try to spin the myth that they're struggling creative types through a combination of lo-fi sartorial choices (baker boy hats, Etsy-ish wedding dressesu2026) If Instagram had existed in fictional 2001, these two would've been insufferable (and they'd definitely have deployed a wedding hashtag on the big day). These two are so wrapped up in their soft-focus White Company and Waitrose lifestyle that they've neglected to notice that Peter's best mate is a Nice Guy about to go nuclear – they're not problematic so much as really, actually tedious.
In a new interview with Wired to mark the release of her latest festive film, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, the actress and her co-star Mackenzie Foy were asked to answer the most-Googled questions about themselves – one of which was ‘Who does Keira Knightley end up with [in] Love Actually?’ It soon becomes clear that Keira doesn’t actually know the answer herself. ‘I don’t remember – who do I end up with in Love Actually?’ she asks her co-star. ‘I mean, I’m with my husband, aren’t I? Aren’t I with Chiwetel Ejiofor?’ she continues, before dropping the revelation that she has only ever ‘ seen it once, and it was a really long time ago.’
So, there we have it. Keira Knightley has better ways to fill the festive season than by re-watching a film she starred in about 15 years ago – and she’s probably pretty indifferent to her character, too, given how Juliet's fate appears to have barely registered with the actress. And can we really blame her for this apparent amnesia? We'd probably rather forget that 'I look quite pretty, don't I?' line, too, Keira.