Who stars in Love Actually, and how do you know them? The July 2021 Netflix release originally premiered in 2003 and follows numerous characters as they pursue love and happiness during the Christmas season. Filmmaker Richard Curtis wrote and directed the box office hit after previously writing rom-com classics such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
In Love Actually, the plot features interconnected storylines in London. The Prime Minister falls in love with a staff member, and a famous male musician reaches an epiphany about his sexuality. A writer grows fond of his Portuguese housekeeper, while a videographer reveals his true feelings for his best friend’s wife. The movie is bookended by sequences at London’s Heathrow Airport, and steadily reinforces the concept that « love actually is all around.«
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Love Actually doesn’t have one definitive lead character, but Hugh Grant is arguably the main attraction due to his ’90s collaborations with the writer-director, Curtis. The holiday movie also includes brief appearances from big-name performers, some of whom were well-known at the time of release, and others who evolved into movie stars throughout the 2000s and beyond. Here’s a full rundown of all the main cast members and romances in Love Actually.
Hugh Grant As David
Hugh Grant portrays David, the new Prime Minister of England. He immediately falls for a staff member named Natalie, and later makes a grand gesture by showing up at her home. Grant starred in the romantic comedies Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. His other roles include Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2, Fletcher in The Gentleman, and Jonathan Fraser in The Undoing.
Martine McCutcheon As Natalie
Martine McCutcheon appears as Natalie, David’s love interest. She has a strong connection with the Prime Minister and receives unwanted sexual advances from the President of the United States. Natalie eventually reunites with David after being « redistributed, » and they make their romance public in a climactic moment. McCutcheon portrayed Tiffany in EastEnders and Mia in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Her other roles include Jane Cooper in Marple and Susan Penwarden in Echo Beach.
Alan Rickman As Harry
Alan Rickman plays Harry, a married businessman who tries to set up his employees Sarah and Karl while receiving sexual advances from a co-worker named Mia. The late Rickman portrayed Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He also plays the heroic Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movie franchise and Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Emma Thompson As Karen
Emma Thompson portrays Karen, David’s sister and Harry’s wife. She worries about a gold necklace that her husband purchases but doesn’t give to her, all the while looking after the closest people in her life. Thompson starred as Miss Kenton in The Remains of the Day and Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. She also portrayed P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, Maureen in The Meyerowitz Stories, and Agent O in Men in Black: International.
Heike Makatsch As Mia
Heike Makatsch appears as Mia, Harry’s flirtatious co-worker and Natalie’s neighbor. She’s upfront about her feelings and tries her best to hook up with Harry. Makatsch portrayed Lisa in Resident Evil and the title character in Margarete Steiff.
Colin Firth As Jamie
Colin Firth, who appeared in 1917, plays Jamie in Love Actually, a writer who catches his girlfriend with his brother. He then falls in love with his Portugese housekeeper, Aurélia, and makes a grand gesture by learning her language and visiting her home. Firth starred as Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary and King George VI in The King’s Speech. He also portrayed George in A Simple Man and stars as Harry Hart in the Kingsman movie franchise.
Lúcia Moniz As Aurélia
Lúcia Moniz appears as Aurélia, Jamie’s love interest. She initially has strong feelings for the writer; however, they are unable to properly communicate. Moniz represented Portugal in Eurovision Song Contest 1996. She later appeared in several Portuguese TV shows and portrayed Giulia in The Italian Writer. Moniz starred as Bella in the 2020 movie Listen and Lucy in the 2020 movie Thirty Minutes.
Liam Neeson As Daniel
Liam Neeson portrays Daniel, a widower who worries about the mental health of his step-son, Sam. As it turns out, the boy simply has a crush on a young musician. Daniel jokes that his late wife would have allowed him to date the model Claudia Schiffer, who makes a cameo as the man’s potential love interest, Carol. Neeson starred as Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List and Ottway in The Grey. He’s also known for portraying Qui-Gon Jinn in the Star Wars franchise and Bryan Mills in the Taken movie series.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster As Sam
Thomas Brodie-Sangster has a supporting role as Sam, Daniel’s step-son. He has a crush on a young female musician and devises a (successful) plan to meet her. Sangster stars as Newt in The Maze Runner movie franchise. He also portrayed Whitey Winn in Godless and Benny Watts in The Queen’s Gambit.
Olivia Olson As Joanna
Olivia Olson appears as Joanna, Sam’s crush. She initially catches his attention while performing on television. Olson voiced Vanessa Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb and Marceline in Adventure Time. She also played Joanna Anderson in Red Nose Day Actually, a 2017 short film and sequel to Love Actually.
Claudia Schiffer As Carol
Claudia Schiffer shows up briefly as Carol, Daniel’s potential love interest whom he meets at the end of the movie. Schiffer is an iconic German supermodel who was married to magician David Copperfield during the late ’90s. She played herself in the movies Ready to Wear and Zoolander.
Chiwetel Ejiofor As Peter
Chiwetel Ejiofor has a minor role as Peter, a newlywed. Unbeknownst to him, his best friend has strong feelings for his wife, Juliet. Ejiofor portrayed Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave and Mordo in Doctor Strange. His other roles include Vincent Kapoor in The Martian and Copley in The Old Guard.
Keira Knightley As Juliet
Keira Knightley plays Juliet, Pete’s wife. She meets with a videographer named Mark (Pete’s best friend), and realizes that he harbors strong feelings for her, evidenced by wedding day glamour shot footage. Knightley received Oscar nominations for portraying Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice and Joan Clarke in The Imitation Game. She also headlined Atonement as Cecilia Tallis and stars as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise.
Andrew Lincoln As Mark
Andrew Lincoln portrays Mark, a videographer and Peter’s best friend. He reveals his true feelings for Juliet, and then makes a grand gesture outside of her home. Lincoln is best known for starring as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead. His other roles include Simon Casey in Teachers and Robert Bridge in Afterlife.
Laura Linney As Sarah
Laura Linney appears as Sarah, Harry’s employee. She has a crush on her co-worker Karl, and eventually pursues a relationship with him. Linney received Oscar nominations for her performances in You Can Count on Me, Kinsey, and The Savages. She also portrayed Cathy Jamison in The Big C and plays Wendy Byrde in Ozark.
Rodrigo Santoro As Karl
Rodrigo Santoro has a small role as Karl, Sarah’s crush. He knows that she has strong feelings for him, and subsequently makes a move. Santoro portrayed Xerxes in 300 and Jesus in Ben-Hur. His other roles include Laurence Golborne in The 33 and Hector Escaton in Westworld.
Bill Nighy As Billy Mack
Pirates of the Caribbean alumnus Bill Nighy plays Billy Mack, a singer who re-records a former single as a Christmas song. He appears throughout the movie as a jokester and ultimately drops his guard by revealing his true feelings for a male friend. Nighy portrayed Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Minister Rufus Scrimgeour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. His other roles include Mr. Woodhouse in Emma. and Saint Germain in Castlevania.
Martin Freeman As John
Martin Freeman appears as John, a production assistant and stand-in actor. He falls for a co-worker named Judy, and appears shy despite having seen her nude at work. Freeman starred as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy and portrayed Everett K. Ross in Black Panther. He also headlined Fargo season 1 as Lester Nygaard and Sherlock as Dr. John Watson.
Joanna Page As Judy
Joanna Page plays Judy, John’s love interest. She’s genuinely attracted to Freeman’s character and appreciates that they can have natural, organic conversations. Page portrayed Ann Crook in From Hell and Marion Chumley in To the Ends of the Earth. She also played Bethan Stubbins in the 2020 movie Dolittle.
Kris Marshall As Colin
Kris Marshall portrays Colin, a wedding caterer who believes that he’s not appreciated by British women. He travels to America and charms the local women by being himself – a young British male. Marshall portrayed Edward Castleton in The Four Feathers and Troy in Death at a Funeral. He also played Tom Parker in Sanditon.
Ivana Miličević As Stacey
Ivana Miličević plays Stacey, a Milwaukee native who is charmed by the Britishness of Colin’s character. Miličević portrayed the Bond girl Valenka in Casino Royale and Carrie Hopewell in Banshee. Her other roles include Mila Yugorsky in Running Scared, Charmaine Diyoza in The 100, and Striga in Castlevania.
January Jones As Jeannie
January Jones appears as Jeannie, Stacey’s friend who thinks Colin has a cute name. Jones starred as Betty Draper in Mad Men and portrayed Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class. She also appeared as Lou Ann Norton in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Melissa Chartres in The Last Man on Earth.
Elisha Cuthbert As Carol-Anne
Elisha Cuthbert plays Carol-Anne, Stacy and Jeannie’s friend who is « crazy about English guys. » Before Love Actually, Cuthbert portrayed Megan in Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Darcie in Old School. She later starred as Kim Bauer in 24, Abby in The Ranch, and Alex Kerkovich in Happy Endings.
Shannon Elizabeth As Harriet
Shannon Elizabeth plays Harriet, a Milwaukee resident and Christian woman that Colin brings home to England. Elizabeth portrayed Nadia in the American Pie movies and Brooke in That ’70s Show. Her other roles include Buffy in Scary Movie and Justice in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Abdul Salis As Tony
Abdul Salis portrays Tony, Colin’ skeptical friend who experiences love at first sight upon meeting Harriet’s sister at the end. Salis portrayed Oumar in Sahara and Eugene Skinner in Flyboys. He also appeared as Curtis Cooper in the TV show Casualty.
Denise Richards As Carla
Denise Richards appears as Carla, Harriet’s sister who meets Tony in England. Richards starred as Kelly Van Ryan in Wild Things and Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough. She also played Carmen Ibanez in Starship Troopers and appears as Shauna Fulton in The Bold and the Beautiful.
Rowan Atkinson As Rufus
Rowan Atkinson, of James Bond-spoof Johnny English fame, has two scenes as Rufus, a jeweler who sells a necklace to Harry. The character later appears in the climax as Sam tries to find Joanna. Atkinson is best known for starring as Mr. Bean in Bean and the title character in Johnny English. He also voiced Zazu in The Lion King (1994).
Billy Bob Thornton As U.S. President
In Love Actually, Billy Bob Thornton plays the U.S. President who visits David and sets firm expectations. He’s then caught attempting to kiss David’s love interest, Natalie. Thornton starred as Karl Childers in Sling Blade and Dan Truman in Armageddon. His other roles include Hank Grotowski in Monster’s Ball, Willie Soke in Bad Santa, and Billy McBride in Goliath.
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