It might be the Marmite of Christmas movies, but if you love Love Actually, then you really LOVE Love Actually.
So when the news landed without any prior warning, on Wednesday, February 15, that we're getting a mini-sequel to the festive rom-com as part of this year's Comic Relief, fans were sent into a complete tizzy.
Filming began the very next day and is still ongoing, but here's everything we know about Red Nose Day Actually so far...
Love Actually sequel: When do we get to see it?
The follow-up to the 2003 film will be broadcast as part of the live Red Nose Day 2017 show on Friday, March 24 on BBC One.
It'll run to around "ten minutes", according to writer and director Richard Curtis. "Over the years I've enjoyed doing Red Nose Day specials of TV things I've worked on – Blackadder, The Vicar of Dibley and Mr Bean," Curtis said.
"It seemed like a fun idea this year to do a special sketch based on one of my films, since Red Nose Day is now in both the UK and America. I would never have dreamt of writing a sequel to Love Actually, but I thought it might be fun to do 10 minutes to see what everyone is now up to. Who has aged best? – I guess that's the big question… or is it so obviously Liam [Neeson]?
"We've been delighted and grateful that so many of the cast are around and able to take part – and it'll certainly be a nostalgic moment getting back together and recreating their characters 14 years later.
"We hope to make something that'll be fun - very much in the spirit of the original film and of Red Nose Day – and which we hope will help bring lots of viewers and cash to the Red Nose Day shows."
Love Actually cast: Who'll appear in the sequel?
The following cast were confirmed in the original announcement:
- Hugh Grant as David
- Martine McCutcheon as Natalie
- Keira Knightley as Juliet
- Colin Firth as Jamie
- Andrew Lincoln as Mark
- Lucia Moniz as Aurélia
- Liam Neeson as Daniel
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Sam
- Olivia Olson as Joanna
- Bill Nighy as Billy Mack
- Marcus Brigstocke as Mikey
- Rowan Atkinson as Rufus
Though some fans thought Rodrigo Santoro – who played suave Karl, lust object of Sarah (Laura Linney) in the original film – had been snapped on set, the below pic is actually of director Mat Whitecross!
But that hasn't stopped us holding out hope that a few unannounced cast members might pop up in the mini-sequel. Because, so far, the following major characters from the film appear to be absent...
- Sienna Guillory as Jamie's girlfriend
- Gregor Fisher as Joe
- Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter
- Laura Linney as Sarah
- Michael Fitzgerald as Michael
- Kris Marshall as Colin
- Abdul Salis as Tony
- Heike Makatsch as Mia
- Martin Freeman as John
- Joanna Page as Judy
- Rodrigo Santoro as Karl
- Billy Bob Thornton as President of the United States
- Claudia Schiffer as Carol
- Nina Sosanya as Annie
- Ivana Miličević as Stacey, January Jones as Jeannie, Elisha Cuthbert as Carol-Anne, Shannon Elizabeth as Harriet and Denise Richards as Carla
- Lulu Popplewell as Daisy
- Julia Davis as Nancy the caterer
- Ruby Turner as Jean (Joanna's mother)
- Adam Godley as Mr Trench
Alright, so we don't really expect Billy Bob to rock up as the POTUS again, but it'd be a little odd to have Santoro back as Karl without Linney as Sarah.
Ditto to Chiwetel Ejiofor – with Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln back as 'Banoffee Pie' Juliet and 'To Me, You Are Perfect' Mark, where's Peter?
Curtis has warned us, though, not to expect every familiar face from the movie to make a comeback – well, it is only 10 minutes...
"We're not doing everyone – we're doing about two thirds of people," he said. "Ems isn't in it. She just can't do it."
There'll be no tribute, either, to the late Alan Rickman, who played Karen's cheating husband Harry. "Dealing with Alan is very complicated, so not really," Curtis said when quizzed on the topic.
Thompson has reportedly said that she wouldn't feel right reprising her role without Rickman at her side: "Richard wrote to me and said, 'Darling, we can't write anything for you because of Alan', and I said, 'no of course, it would be sad, too sad'.
"It's too soon. It's absolutely right because it's supposed to be for Comic Relief – but there isn't much comic relief in the loss of our dear friend really, only just over a year ago.
"We thought and thought but it just seemed wrong... to revisit the wonderful fun characters of Bill Nighy and Hugh Grant and Liam and all of that, that's fantastic – but obviously what would he [Curtis] have done?"
Love Actually sequel: What's going to happen?
Very little is known about the plot of Red Nose Day Actually, other than that it will pick up with around two-thirds of the film's characters, in real-time, 14 years after the events of the original.
We're going to take it as a good sign that some of our favourite couples – David and Natalie, Jamie and Aurélia – will be reunited on screen. Surely Curtis won't drop the bombshell that any of them have broken up on Red Nose Day?
For her part, Martine McCutcheon wants the PM and his former tea-lady to still be together, with "a couple of kids" - and it looks like she'll get her wish, with the pair being reintroduced as a married couple.
(Interesting that David still appears to be Prime Minister, too - he's done well to hold office for 14 more years...)
If we're talking happy couples, Ejiofor's apparent absence from the sequel is interesting. Does this mean that Mark and his romantic gestures / borderline stalkerish behaviour finally succeeded in winning over Juliet and stealing her away from Peter? So much for "enough, enough now..."
You might be able to find out for yourself, with Comic Relief offering one Love Actually obsessive a chance to win a set visit and see Lincoln and Knightley reunited in front of the cameras.
Love Actually sequel filming: The cast reunited
Shooting on the mini-sequel began on February 16, with Freud (who's also Richard Curtis's partner) posting a series of shots which saw adorable father-and-son pairing Daniel (Neeson) and Sam (Brodie-Sangster) reunited... apparently on the very same bench where they shared an emotional exchange in the movie.
Olivia Olson (Joanna) was also spotted on set filming with Neeson and Brodie-Sangster. Does this mean childhood sweethearts Sam and Joanna are still together?
Bit of a stretch, but it's Love Actually, so we'll forgive it a lot...
As for Rowan Atkinson's fussy Rufus, it looks as though he's gone from a job in the jewellers of a department store to working down his local Sainsbury's. Already, one twist we didn't see coming!
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