When Love Actually premiered in cinemas over a decade ago, who knew it would be one of the most influential — and divisive — holiday movies ever made? You might think I’m being hyperbolic, but this movie is consistently one of the best selling DVDs and blu-rays every year1 and gains legions of new fans from multiple airings on cable and Netflix — though not for much longer. It’s also responsible for spawning an entire sub-genre of similar romantic comedies like Valentine’s Day and the equally awful New Year’s Eve. Love it or hate it, this flick evokes extreme feelings either way.
So why am I writing about Love Actually? It’s not like romantic comedy is a topic that’s covered on the NOC. Well, for one thing, most of the movie’s sprawling cast of British actors have gone on to become icons of the Comic-Con set. The stars of today’s biggest genre properties can trace their lineage back to this flick, and it’s amazing.
meanders between follows no less than ten different storylines, all involving romantic pairings of some sort. In almost all of these arcs, one (or more) of the main players would go on to nerd-celebrity status by attaching him or herself to a mega-franchise a few years later.
Here are a few of the geektastic properties that have ties to this perennial holiday classic.
Though they are in separate storylines in Love Actually, both Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley shared a few scenes four years prior in the first of the Star Wars prequels The Phantom Menace. Neeson played Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, while Knightley portrayed Queen Amidala’s royal decoy. Neither character appeared in any subsequent prequel.
In Love Actually, Liam Neeson plays a recently widowed father who encourages his son to follow his heart and pursue the girl he has a crush on. Neeson, meanwhile, well, I don’t really remember what he did in the flick. Maybe he tracked down some kidnappers with his very particular set of skills? Wait, I don’t think his son was kidnapped in this movie. Oh well.
His son, by the way, was played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster whose geek credentials include Game of Thrones, The Maze Runner and, believe it or not, Phineas & Ferb.
Meanwhile, Knightley plays Juliet, newly wedded to Peter — played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was in Serenity, natch — and finds out that her new husband’s best friend and wedding videographer Mark has been secretly in love with her the whole time2. When Mark shows up and goes all INXS on her front porch, Juliet acknowledges his long unrequited love for her by kissing him in the street. It’s supposed to be romantic, but to me it just feels like the wrong message to send to a potential stalker, no? Of course Mark snaps, moves to Atlanta, and rips out men’s throats with his bare teeth after the whole ordeal.
The Walking Dead
That’s right, the lovelorn Mark is none other than Sheriff Rick Grimes. In probably the most dramatic and improbable post-Love Actually transformation, Andrew Lincoln went from being “the creepy dude with the cue cards from that one movie” to the creepy guy who stars in the biggest show in the history of television.
Sure, wrecking your best friend’s marriage isn’t the same thing as surviving the zombie apocalypse, but it’s kind of interesting to think of Love Actually as a prequel of sorts to The Walking Dead. If you’re a hater of the flick, you’d have to admit that doing so might make the movie a more interesting watch.
With the final installment of The Hobbit trilogy about to open in the United States, and a recent stint hosting Saturday Night Live, Martin Freeman has become one of the biggest stars in the world. Added to those accolades are his star turns in the original BBC version of The Office as well as his role as Watson on Sherlock, and you’d be hard pressed to argue that Martin Freeman isn’t on top of Nerd Mountain.
Surprisingly, Love Actually was one of his first major breakthrough roles. In it Freeman plays John, a body double who meets and courts fellow double Judy while simulating sex scenes on the set of a movie. Their courtship is probably the funniest in the whole film, solely for the graphic nudity and incongruous dialogue.
Of course, while these are probably the biggest stars and properties to emerge from the flick, there are even more, including the Lost and 300 franchises represented by Rodrigo Santoro, Pirates of the Caribbean with Bill Nighy and Keira Knightley (again), and X-Men with January Jones.
So what do you think? Am I missing anyone else? And where do you fall on the Love Actually love/hate scale?