Love Actually: Then And Now

hugh grant love actually

by Katie Rosseinsky |

How did you react when you learned that the cast of Richard Curtis' festive rom-com Love Actually would be re-uniting for a short sequel, all in aid of Comic Relief? Celebrate through the medium of dance (a la Hugh Grant's Prime Minister)? Jump up and down with glee (like Laura Linney's character after her office party)? Or respond with stony indifference because you hated the whole schmaltz-fest the first time round? If it's the latter, then we probably can never be friends.

Since the film dad-danced into cinemas back in December 2003, many of its cast have become bona-fide, Oscar-nominated stars; others have remained well-loved fixtures of the acting establishment; others still have channeled their talents into cheerful yoghurt adverts (we love you, Martine!)

13 years on, here's what this most British of ensemble casts is up to now...

Colin Firth

colin firth love actually then now
Colin Firth: Then and Now ©Rex Features / Getty Images

Colin Firth hardly needs re-introducing. When Love Actually arrived in cinemas, he was already a major star thanks to his 'double Darcy' trick, playing the romantic hero in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and the Bridget Jones fims. Since then, he has done his best Abba karaoke in Mamma Mia!, had a Tom Ford makeover (Firth starred in the designer's directorial debut, A Single Man), earned the Academy Award for Best Actor (for The King's Speech) and reprised his role as Mark Darcy for Bridget Jones's Baby, all while cementing his national treasure status.

Keira Knightley

keira knightley love actually then now
Keira Knightley ©Rex Features / Getty Images

It's hard to believe, but Keira Knightley was only 18 when Love Actually came out (which arguably makes her whole storyline even creepier, no?). As well as her role in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, she's now synonymous with British period drama, thanks to a string of films like Pride and Prejudice (which earned her a first Oscar nomination), Atonement, The Edge of Love, The Duchess and The Imitation Game (which earned her a second). In 2015, she welcomed a daughter, Edie, with husband (and former Klaxon) James Righton. Up next are yet more period pieces: The Aftermath, set just after World War Two, and Disney's take on The Nutcracker (she'll play the Sugar Plum Fairy).

Hugh Grant

hugh grant love actually cast then now
Hugh Grant ©Rex Features / Getty Images

His turn as the UK's favourite fictional Prime Minister is still one of Hugh Grant's most memorable roles: it even made an impression on the then (actual) PM Tony Blair, who paraphrased Grant's character David in a speech. Since then, he's largely been stuck in charming Hugh Grant auto-pilot in a string of rom-coms like Music And Lyrics and Did You Hear About The Morgans? though his recent role in Florence Foster Jenkins (opposite Meryl Streep) earned him BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. Off-screen, he played a significant role in the News Of The World phone hacking case, eventually giving testimony in the Leveson inquiry.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

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Thomas Brodie Sangster ©Getty Images

We need to compare skincare regimes with Thomas Brodie Sangster, and fast. Is it just us or has he barely aged a day since 2003? Now 26, Sangster (a second cousin of Hugh Grant, no less) is probably best known for his role as Jojen Reed in Game Of Thrones. He's also appeared in the Maze Runner YA film franchise, and had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in 2015's Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, playing a generic evil underling to Adam Driver's Kylo Ren. Wonder if he ever has trouble getting through airport security...

Olivia Olson

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Olivia Olson ©Getty Images

Playing Joanna, the primary school pupil with a singing voice to rival Mariah Carey, in Love Actually was Olivia Olson's first and last major film role, as she's focused more on her musical career. She has since reunited with her Love Actually love interest Thomas Brodie-Sangster, though, providing the voice for a recurring character in the animated series Phineas and Ferb (Sangster voiced Ferb) and appears on the soundtrack, too. She's also part of the cast for the not-for-kids animation Adventure Time.

Emma Thompson

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Emma Thompson ©Getty Images

Another national treasure requiring no re-introduction (this film is full of them) is Emma Thompson. Most recently, she co-wrote the script for Bridget Jones 'threequel' Bridget Jones's Baby, and appeared on-screen as Bridget's gynaecologist, re-uniting with her Love Actually co-star Colin Firth. She also provided the voice for all-singing, all-dancing teapot Mrs. Potts in Disney's live action re-make of Beauty and the Beast, and will next be seen in the screen adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel The Children Act.

Andrew Lincoln

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Andrew Lincoln: Then and Now ©Getty Images

Post-Love Actually, it was always going to be hard for Andrew Lincoln to shake off his character Mark, and his problematic hand-written declarations of love for Keira Knightley's Juliet (plus, we always think of him whenever we're walking meaningfully through London streets to Dido's 'Here With Me'). It's no mean feat, then, that Lincoln is now arguably better known for his zombie-killing role as Rick Grimes in hit TV show The Walking Dead, which couldn't be further from a Richard Curtis rom-com. And yes, Love Actually - Walking Dead mash-up memes do exist...

Heike Makatsch

heike Makatsch love actually cast then now
Heike Makatsch: then and now

Did you know that Heike dated Daniel Craig for seven years from 1994 to 2001? Us neither. Since playing Mia (arguably the film's worst character - or at least equally as annoying as Keira Knightley's Juliet) in Love Actually, she's had a string of roles in German language productions and starred in the 2013 screen adaptation of The Book Thief. According to her Wikipedia page, she's also appeared on three albums since Love Actually's 2003 release.

Liam Neeson

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Liam Neeson ©Getty Images

Everyone knows that Liam Neeson's most important addition to post-Love Actually pop culture has been his endlessly parodied phone scene in Taken (and every Taken film thereafter). When he's not busy playing action heroes with chips on their shoulders in a string of thrilers, he has also found time to lend his dulcet tones to a handful of magical creatures on screen, from Aslan the lion in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe to the Monster of the title in A Monster Calls.

Martine McCutcheon

martine mccutcheon love actually then now
Martine McCutcheon ©Rex Features / Getty Images

Former EastEnder Martine briefly headed to the US after her role as Natalie (a part which Richard Curtis reportedly wrote specifically for her), but her Hollywood career never materialised, and Love Actually remains her last major film credit. She has, however, enjoyed continued success on British TV (we're not just talking about those 'TLC' Activia ads) and is now a regular fixture on Loose Women. She's also still good friends with her co-star Hugh Grant; such is the power of Love Actually.

Lucia Moniz

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Lucia Moniz: then and now ©Instagram

Former Eurovision contestant Lucia (she represented Portugal back in 1996, finishing in sixth place) has balanced her screen career with her musical one since starring as Aurelia in Love Actually. She released albums in 2005 and 2011, has appeared in a handful of Portuguese-language films and starred in soaps in her home country.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

chiwetel ejiofor love actually then now
Chiwetel Ejiofor: then and now ©Rex Features / Getty Images

Since his brief appearance as the husband of Keira Knightley's Juliet (and best friend to the world's worst best man, as played by Andrew Lincoln), Chiwetel Ejiofor's acting career (on stage and on screen) has gone from strength to strength. His most famous role to date came in 2013 as the lead in 12 Years A Slave, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. He followed that success with parts in the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun and in trippy superhero film Doctor Strange, and became an OBE in 2015. You'll next see him as one of Jesus' apostles in Mary Magdalene.

Bill Nighy

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Bill Nighy: then and now ©Getty Images

What with starring in just about every other heart-warming British film that has gone into production since Love Actually, Bill Nighy has certainly kept himself busy. Ten years on, Nighy reunited with director Richard Curtis for 2013's About Time, playing a father who passes on his time-travelling skills to his son (as played by Domhnall Gleeson - and yes, the plot is just as tenuous as that makes it sound...) You'll see him next as an ageing matinee idol in wartime drama Their Finest, alongside Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin.

READ MORE: 36 Things You Didn't Know About Love Actually

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