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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Ellie Harrison

Love Actually: What the actors have gone on to star in, from Harry Potter to The Queen’s Gambit


When the 2003 Christmas classic Love Actually entered the world, it was like a stuffed stocking, filled to the brim with some of Britain’s greatest actors.

From Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson to Alan Rickman, it attracted some of the best performers of the era.

The film also launched the careers of Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Olivia Olson, who were children when they starred in the romcom.

It’s been almost 20 years since Richard Curtis’s film was released, and they’ve all been very busy since then.

Some of the stars of the movie have gone on to work with Curtis again, while others have had huge franchise roles or become synonymous with certain characters, like Martin Freeman’s Dr John Watson in Sherlock.

Here’s a rundown on the Love Actually cast’s varied careers, from 2003 to now…

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

After playing rock and roll legend Billy Mack in Love Actually, Nighy went on to star as boat captain Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, as Radio Rock boss Quention in The Boat that Rocked, and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 as Rufus Scrimgeour. He collaborated with Love Actually filmmaker Curtis again with About Time and other career highlights have included roles in Pride and Emma. He most recently starred as a terminally ill man in the critically praised, Fifties-set movie Living.

Colin Firth

Colin Firth in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

Having played loved-up writer Jamie in Love Actually, a part that came after Firth starred in Bridget Jones’s Diary, the actor reprised his role as Mark Darcy in more of Curtis’s Bridget Jones movies. He then starred memorably in Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, as well as in A Single Man, The King’s Speech (for which he won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Actor) and 1917. He will next appear in Sam Mendes’s Empire of Light alongside Olivia Colman.

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

The Love Actually scene where Emma Thompson holds back tears as she listens to Joni Mitchell is one of the best and most memorable in the film. After portraying Karen, Thompson played Professor Sybill Trelawney in numerous Harry Potter movies, and also starred in Nanny McPhee, Stranger than Fiction, I Am Legend, An Education, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and Cruella, to name just a few. Her latest role is as the formidable Miss Trunchbull in the musical film Matilda.

Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

In Love Actually, Neeson’s Daniel was immersed in grief. Much of the rest of Neeson’s characters have been immersed in action – from his role as the desperate father in Taken, to parts in Batman Begins and The Grey. He’s also popped up in a Coen brothers movie – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – and episodes of Derry Girls and Atlanta.

Kris Marshall

Kris Marshall in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2021 (Universal, Getty)

Since his role as Colin, “god of sex”, in Love Actually, Marshall has starred in films such as The Merchant of Venice and Death at a Funeral, as well as reprised his role as Nick Harper in My Family. He also had a long-running role as DI Humphrey Goodman in the TV drama Death in Paradise. He can next be seen in that show’s spin-off Beyond Paradise.

Martin Freeman

Kris Marshall in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2021 (Universal, Getty)

Freeman has gone from playing body double John in Love Actually to starring in the action-comedies Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to name a few. He’s also appeared in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy as Bilbo Baggins, and also had role in Marvel’s Black Panther. His latest project is its sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. He’s perhaps most famous, though, for playing Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick Dr John Watson in Sherlock, and Tim in The Office (the latter of which ended just after Love Actually came out).

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

After playing newlywed Juliet in Love Actually, Knightley has gone on to star in films such as Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, The Imitation Game, Official Secrets, Greed, and Silent Night. She has played Elizabeth Swann in many Pirates of the Caribbean movies and her next film is Boston Strangler, in which she plays the journalist who investigated the famous 1960s case.

Joanna Page

Joanna Page in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

Page hopped from playing an awkward body double in Love Actually to portraying the lead role of Stacey Shipman in the beloved sitcom Gavin & Stacey. Since then, she’s popped up in numerous TV shows including Bedlam, The Syndicate and Breathless.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Chiwetel Ejiofor in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

Since playing newlywed Peter in Love Actually, Ejiofor has been busy. He’s starred in numerous Spike Lee movies, including She Hate Me and Inside Man, as well as the films Children of Men, American Gangster, 12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange, and The Lion King. His next project is the sci-fi romcom The Pod Generation, which he appears in alongside Emilia Clarke.

Andrew Lincoln

Andrew Lincoln in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2018 (Universal, Getty)

Lincoln’s Mark holding up those signs while professing his love for Keira Knightley’s Juliet will never leave the collective psyche – but the actor has had many roles since Love Actually. He’s starred in films including Scenes of a Sexual Nature and Made in Dagenham, as well as the TV shows Afterlife, Strike Back and Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. His most famous role is as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead.

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

Grant played dancing prime minister David in Love Actually, after having collaborated with Richard Curtis many times previously. Since Love Actually, he’s starred in the movies Florence Foster Jenkins, Paddington 2 and The Gentlemen, and his newest movie is Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. On TV, he’s appeared as disgraced politician Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal and the US thriller The Undoing.

Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2015 (Universal, Getty)

When Rickman starred as flirty design agency boss Harry in Love Actually, he was already adored by many for his role as Snape in the Harry Potter movies, which he continued after the romcom came out in 2003. He also followed the film up with roles as Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He died of pancreatic cancer aged 69 in 2016.

Martine McCutcheon

Martine McCutcheon in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2017 (Universal, Getty)

McCutcheon starred as a junior member of the prime ministerial staff, Natalie, in Love Actually, but before that she was known for playing Tiffany Mitchell in EastEnders. After Love Actually, in which she copped off with Hugh Grant’s PM,she starred in the TV shows Spooks and Echo Beach, and she has also appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox and released a fitness DVD.

Laura Linney

Laura Linney in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal. Getty)

After playing timid office worker Sarah in Love Actually, Linney had roles in the movies Driving Lessons, The Savages, and Nocturnal Animals, to name just a few. She had a busy career in TV, too, with parts in Frasier, The Big C and Tales of the City. Her biggest hit since Love Actually has been the Netflix thriller Ozark, in which she plays crime family matriarch Wendy Byrde.

Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2018 (Universal, Getty)

After playing a perfectionist shop assistant in Love Actually, Atkinson reprised his role in two Johnny English sequels, several Mr Bean movies and also starred in the film Keeping Mum and the TV series Maigret. One of his most recent projects was the Netflix show Man vs Bee, and he can soon be seen in Wonka, alongside Olivia Colman and Sally Hawkins.

January Jones

January Jones in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

Jones played one of the American party girls, Jeannie, in Love Actually. After that, the actor starred in the films Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Boat that Rocked, Unknown and X-Men: First Class, to name a few. On TV, she became famous for her role as Betty Draper in Mad Men, and has also appeared in The Last Man on Earth, The Politician and Spinning Out.

Olivia Olson

Olivia Olson in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2018 (Universal, Getty)

After playing schoolgirl singer Joanna in Love Actually, aged just 11, Olson has voiced Vanessa Doofenshmirtz in cartoon Phineas and Ferb and Marceline the Vampire Queen in Adventure Time. She is also a writer, having written the Boom! Studios graphic novel Marcy and Simon.

Billy Bob Thornton

Rowan Atkinson in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2018 (Universal, Getty)

Thornton portrayed the evil US president in Love Actually, and after the film went on to star in movies from Friday Night Lights to Chrystal. He also played Billy McBride in the legal drama Goliath and Lorne Malvo in the Fargo TV series. One of his next projects is sci-fi movie The Electric State, led by Millie Bobby Brown and Chris Pratt.

Lúcia Moniz

Lúcia Moniz in ‘Love Actually’ (Universal)

Before Love Actually, Moniz represented Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1996. Since playing Aurelia, the maid who falls in love with Colin Firth’s Jamie, Moniz has appeared in comedy The Right Juice and the Portuguese movies Fatima and Listen. She has also starred in many Portuguese TV series.

Abdul Salis

Abdul Salis in ‘Love Actually’ (Universal)

After portraying Tony, the eye-rolling friend of Kris Marshall’s Colin in Love Actually, Salis went on to star in the TV series Casualty, EastEnders and The Wheel of Time. His movies post-Love Actually include Sahara, Welcome Home and Flyboys.

Gregory Fisher

Gregory Fisher in ‘Love Actually’ (Universal)

Fisher played music manager Joe in Love Actually, but when he got that role he was already known for playing the title role in the Scottish comedy Rab C Nesbitt. His roles since Love Actually have included parts in the films The Merchant of Venice and Lassie, and TV shows Empty and Love Life.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster in ‘Love Actually’ and in 2022 (Universal, Getty)

Brodie-Sangster was only 12 when he played the lovelorn son of Liam Neeson’s Daniel in Love Actually. Since the movie, he’s gone on to star in the films Nanny McPhee, Nowhere Boy (in which he played Paul McCartney), several Maze Runners and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He’s also known for his parts in the TV series Feather Boy, Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, Godless, The Queen’s Gambit and Pistol.

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