Why Were The Two Most Diverse Storylines Cut From Love Actually?

The film is a festive favourite, but it's a very white Christmas...

Love Actually Deleted Scenes

by Grazia |

For all its faults, Love Actually remains one of our all-time favourite Christmas films. We can’t fail but be cheered by the Prime Minister’s love for his charming tea lady. We cry every time Emma Thompson discovers that her husband has bought jewellery for someone other than her. We long for Laura Linney to find a way to make her adoration of her incredibly hot colleague something more than a crush. There are so many storylines, with everyone having their favourites, that a few stinkers (we hate the Kris Marshall’s US sexcapade plotline, and don’t see any point of the Martin Freeman/Joanna Page nude body double scenes) can be forgiven. But something doesn’t sit quite right with us, and that’s the two storylines that fell by the wayside.

Love Actually originally featured two additional plotlines: one featuring a lesbian couple, and the other a man and woman in Africa. Neither ever made it to the final cut. It’s a disappointing decision, in hindsight, and we’d love to see a new edit that put them back where they belonged.

The first, missing plot line concerns the headmistress of the school which we see plenty of toward the end of the film: it’s where Emma Thompson’s children are educated, as well as Liam Neeson’s besotted stepson and Martine McCutcheon’s octopus-dressed relative. The teacher – played by beloved TV actress Anne Reid – is seen at the school, before heading home to her partner, played by stage great Frances de la Tour. She is clearly ill, beset with coughing, and later in the film we discover that she succumbs to this illness: Emma Thompson’s character expresses her sympathies on behalf of the school, before the nativity begins.

The second plot line is more brief, and shows a man and a woman, living in Africa, who have faced famine and come out of the ordeal together and united. It was shot in Kenya, with the intention of emphasising the fact that love, actually, 'is all around.'

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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.

Richard Curtis – the film’s writer and director – has said that the plotlines just didn’t fit, and that he was 'really sorry' to lose Anne Reid's scenes in particular. And that is understandable to a certain extent. Love Actually has a running time of 2 hours and 25 minutes. Something had to go if audiences were going to remain enthralled in their seats. But the deletion of the film’s one gay relationship, and the one relationship between two black individuals, seems unfortunate. One could argue that the former – with its tragic conclusion – was just too sad to leave in, moments before the joyous climax of the All I Want For Christmas Is You performance. But Laura Linney and Emma Thompson both have sad endings, and they stayed in.

As for the latter, you could say that the location didn’t gel with the rest of the film, predominantly set in wintry London, but by that logic you’d have to cut Colin Firth’s European jaunt too. There is a silver lining though: we're not sure if presenting the one black couple as facing a famine in Africa, while the white couples listen to Joni Mitchell in their town houses and shop for jewellery, would have been received particularly well. There are, of course, black characters in the film - those played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nina Osanya, for example - but they are very much peripheral.

We’re not suggesting that Richard Curtis did anything consciously untoward in the editing process of Love Actually. There is logic to his cuts, and we’d be hard pressed to offer an alternative that didn’t end up running beyond three hours once you put it on terrestrial television with ad breaks. But we’d like to think that if he was given the chance to remake the film now, he’d find a way to ensure that the army of lovelorn individuals he presents were a little more reflective of the world in which we live.

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

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