The Cast Of Love, Actually Are Reuniting For A 20th Anniversary Special – Here’s What They’ve Been Up To Since

The ensemble cast of some of the biggest names in UK film and TV included Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson.

hugh grant love actually

by Marianna Manson |
Updated on

Twenty years on andLove, Actuallycontinues to be one of the best Christmas films ever made, particularly for Londoners who recognise all the little nooks and crannies of a festive-adorned city. Sure, there’s huge swathes of the film that haven’t aged well under a feminist lens – Mia’s shameless pursual of her married boss, Natalie’s bizarre ‘tree trunk’ storyline, Mark’s creepy stalking of his best friend’s wife Juliet (who happens to be a teenager), and the film just generally spectacularly failing the bechedel test. But I digress.

There are few Christmas films that really manage to nail the precise spirit of the run-up to Christmas, and whatever else you want to say about it, Love, Actually gets it spot on: which is why millions of us, myself included, count it as much a part of their festive tradition as that first mince pie and mulled wine of the season (in November, naturally).

So the news that some of the ensemble cast are back at it for a looooong overdue reunion (ok, there was a Red Nose Day ‘sequel’ back in 2017, but still, that was ages ago) has given us one extra reason to look forward to this Christmas.

According to ABC, which is producing the one-off, ‘the special will look at how the film successfully corralled a diverse ensemble to create a charming and winsome film examining various loving relationships during a frantic month leading up to Christmas in London, England, going on to become a beloved holiday tradition around the world.’

So, maybe don’t expect the intricate, overlapping plotlines of the original – but you can look forward to the likes of Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who, btw, is no longer a child could you believe) all sitting down for a chinwag with director Richard Curtis and American journalist Diane Sawyer for The Laughter And Secrets of Love Actually 20 Years Later. As its name suggests, the whole production screams American – a rogue choice for such a quintessentially British film – but after two decades, we’ll take our Love, Actually fix where we can get it.

And if you’re looking for yours ahead of next week’s premier, here’s a look at what some of the main cast are up to now.

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 continued to play the nation’s bumbling heartthrob, reprising his role as Daniel Cleaver in the Bridget Jones sequel The Edge of Reason (2004), Music and Lyrics alongside Drew Barrymore in 2007 and The Rewrite in 2014. But he’s also somewhat expanded his repertoire in his middle age, taking on the role of the dastardly villain Phoenix Buchanan in the 2017 Paddington Bear sequel and acting opposite the likes of Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey, as well as Colin Farrel and Charlie Hunman, in 2019’s The Gentlemen.

Emma Thompson

emma thompson love actually cast now
Emma Thompson ©Getty Images

Another bona-fide national treasure, Emma can still nail the mother-figure but this year saw her take on the lead role in a ground-breaking rom com called Good Luck To You, Leo Grande.

The film bucked expectations by casting Emma, in her 50s, as the romantic lead, in a film which features A LOT of sex. It’s not often we get to see older women in sexual roles, and Emma took on the character of Nancy Stokes, a middle aged woman who turns to a sex worker to help her unlock her sexual potential, with aplomb.

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.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

thomas bordie sangster love actually
Thomas Brodie Sangster ©Getty Images

Perennially youthful Thomas was one of the best-known child actors of the era, but he’s certainly not been short of work since he came of age. He’s been in Game of Thrones, where he played Jojen Reed, Netflix’s Godless and period drama Wolf Hall, as well as voiceovers in Phineas and Ferb and the Thunderbirds Are Go TV series.

Olivia Olson

olivia olson love actually then now cast
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.

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

liam neeson love actually then now
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 thrillers - such as Star Wars, Men in Black, Cold Pursuit and The Marksman, with a whopping five projects currently in post-production -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 and 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

lucia moniz love actually aurelia then now
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.

Bill Nighy

bill nighy love actually then now
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...) and has played the formidable Davy Jones (you know, the tentacly feller) in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He's also a much sought-after voiceover actor, narrating Channel 5’s World’s Most Scenic Rivers and the TK Maxx adverts. Talk about versatility.

Colin Firth

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

Nicely bookending the ensemble-cast of much loved national treasures is Colin Firth, who, like his colleague and contemporary Hugh Grant made a career out of playing a charming English gent (although it should be noted that, traditionally, Colin’s characters are less lucky-in-love than the irresistible Hugh’s). Since playing Jamie in Love Actually, Colin went on to win an Oscar for Best Acotr as King George VI in 2010’s The King’s Speech and was nominated again in 2011 for A Single Man. His plummy voice means he’s often cast as army generals, spies, and the like, starring opposite Taron Egerton in the Kingsman film franchise and 2021’s Operation Mincemeat.

Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman

Much loved for making his villainous characters somehow – well – lovable, Alan Rickman’s cheating Harry was one role we couldn’t warm to. Despite having had a long and successful career throughout the 80s and 90s, he was best known for playing Professor Snape in all eight Harry Potter films. He sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2016.

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