The Cast of 'Love Actually,' Then and Now

8:30 AM 11/14/2018

by Charlotte Scott

The movie first hit theaters 15 years ago, on Nov. 14, 2003.

The romantic comedy Love Actually is turning 15.

Originally released on Nov. 14, 2003, Love Actually earned $247 million at the international box office and continues to be a holiday TV staple every year.

Richard Curtis wrote and directed the film, which was nominated for 29 awards, including two Golden Globes, and won ten awards globally. Set in London during the Christmas season, Love Actually tells the story of several couples who are revealed to be all interrelated by the movie’s end.

Here's a look at what the cast — who reunited for a brief sequel in 2017 for Red Nose Day — has been up to since the movie first hit theaters.

  • Hugh Grant

    Grant started acting in 1982 when he was cast as Lord Adrian in Privileged. Before starring in Love Actually as the prime minister who falls in love with his secretary, Natalie, Grant already had several breakout roles. He’s known for his roles in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), which earned him a Golden Globe, Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and Two Weeks Notice (2002), among others. Since Love Actually, Grant has starred in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and Florence Foster Jenkins  (2016).

  • Martine McCutcheon

    McCutcheon’s road to fame started during her childhood when she was featured in several billboard ads. Her first acting role was Mandy in the show Bluebirds in 1989. Her big break was in the soap EastEnders, where she played the character Tiffany from 1995-98. In Love Actually, she played David’s secretary, Natalie, and the two fall in love by the movie’s end. Her biggest role since Love Actually was in 2008 when she played Susan Penwarden in the show Echo Beach. She’s also a singer with several studio albums to her credit.

  • Emma Thompson

    Thompson's had a prolific acting career. In college, she was in Cambridge University’s drama club, Footlights. She pursued a career in comedy after graduation, making appearances on BBC radio and touring with comedy troupes. Her first break was on the British sketch comedy series Alfresco from 1983-84. She’s known for her roles in The Remains of the Day (1993) Howards End (1993), which won her a best actress Oscar, and Sense and Sensibility (1995), which earned her a writing Oscar for best adapted screenplay. In Love Actually, Thompson starred as Karen, the prime minister’s (Hugh Grant) sister, and as Harry's wife (who's played by Alan Rickman). Her character experiences a lot of inner turmoil when she realizes her husband is cheating on her with his secretary. Since 2003, Thompson has starred in several Harry Potter movies, Nanny McPhee (2006) and its sequel, A Walk in the Woods (2015), and Beauty and the Beast (2017). 

  • Alan Rickman

    Rickman studied graphic design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and opened a business, Graphiti, with friends. When he was 26, he switched career paths and auditioned with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and received a scholarship. His acting career flourished from there. Rickman was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Les Liaisons Dangereuses”in 1987. His first film was Die Hard in 1988, where he played the villain, Hans Gruber. Rickman gave such a memorable performance in that role that he was then often cast in movies as the villainous character. In Love Actually, Rickman played Harry, who cheats on his wife with his secretary. Rickman’s longest and perhaps most memorable role was that of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, where he acted in every movie from 2001-11. He died Jan. 14, 2016, of pancreatic cancer.

  • Liam Neeson

    Neeson’s road to fame was long and winding. As a young adult, he was a forklift operator for Guinness, an assistant architect and a boxer. He thought he’d be a teacher, so he attended St. Mary’s Teaching College. When that didn’t work out, he joined Belfast Lyric Players’ Theater in 1976 to pursue acting instead, and his first play was The Risen People. In 1978, he moved to Dublin’s Abbey Theater, and he was cast in the 1981 film Excalibur when director John Boorman noticed him. He continued acting in Britain for several years before moving to Hollywood to make it big. Neeson was nominated for an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for best actor in his role in the Oscar-winning film Schindler's List (1993). In 2003, Neeson played Daniel in Love Actually. In the film, Daniel is Karen’s friend who recently lost his wife and is raising his stepson, Sam (played by Thomas Sangster), without her. Neeson went on to star in Batman Begins (2005), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Taken (2008), Clash of the Titans (2010) and The A-Team (2010). He most recently starred on the big screen in The Commuter (2018).

  • Thomas Brodie-Sangster

    Love Actually was Sangster’s breakout role in film. He played Sam, a young boy who falls in love with the coolest girl in school and chases her through the airport to tell her he loves her. He’s had several other roles since, including Simon in Nanny McPhee (2005), Ferb in Phineas and Ferb (2007-15), Newt in The Maze Runner (2014) and its two sequels (2015 and 2018), and Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones (2013-14).

  • Colin Firth

    Firth started acting at a very young age. He was discovered at the Drama Centre London while playing Hamlet. He played Bennet in the play Another Country and starred as Judd in the movie version. He has received two BAFTA nominations, one for his role as Robert Lawrence in Tumbledown (1988) and another for his performance as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (1995). His role as British King George in The King’s Speech (2010) won him an Oscar for best actor in 2011. More recently, he reprised his role as Mark in Bridget Jones's Baby (2017).

  • Bill Nighy

    Nighy studied English literature and worked in Paris with the hope of writing a novel. When he ran out of money, he left France and enrolled in the Guildford School of Dance and Drama in London. He hasn’t stopped working in entertainment since. He has starred as Viktor in Underworld (2003), Underworld: Evolution (2006) and Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009). He also appeared as Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010). He won a BAFTA for best supporting actor for his role as Billy Mack in Love Actually (2003), and he’s made appearances in several other films, including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), About Time (2013) and I, Frankenstein (2014).

  • Keira Knightley

    Knightley may have been born to be an actress — her parents are actor Will Knightley and actress-playwright Sharman Macdonald. At age 7, she got her first role as “Little Girl” in Screen One: Royal Celebration (1993). She attended Esher College and studied classics, English literature and political history, but she decided to leave school and pursue acting full-time in 2001. After her breakout role in Bend It Like Beckham (2002), she went on to co-star in Love Actually and then landed parts in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), The Jacket (2005) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Most recently, she played reprised her role as Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) and played the title character in Colette (2018).

  • Andrew Lincoln

    Lincoln studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. His first big role was as Edgar “Egg” Cook in the series This Life (1996). He was then cast as Simon Casey in the series Teachers (2001). After playing Mark in Love Actually, he played High Collinson in the series Strike Back (2010). He has starred as Rick Grimes on the blockbuster hit series The Walking Dead since 2010.

  • Laura Linney

    Laura Linney's father is famous playwright Romulus Linney, and his career greatly influenced hers. She graduated from Brown University and then studied acting at Juilliard and the Arts Theatre School in Moscow. She started on Broadway, but her film career began when she had small roles in Lorenzo's Oil (1992) and Dave (1993). She played Mary Anne Singleton in Tales of the City (1993), More Tales of the City (1998) and Further Tales of the City (2001). Her big break was her role in Primal Fear (1996), and she earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Sammy in You Can Count on Me (2000). She also played Bertha Dorset in The House of Mirth (2000). After Love Actually, Linney starred as Cathy Jamison in the series The Big C (2010-13) and more recently was Wendy Byrde in Ozark (2017).