Love Actually, 2003
- Hugh Grant
- Martine McCutcheon
- Alan Rickman
- Liam Neeson
- Chiwetel Ejiofor
- Colin Firth
- Keira Knightley
- Bill Nighy
- Emma Thompson
- Billy Bob Thornton
- Andrew Lincoln
- Thomas Brodie-Sangster
- January Jones
- Elisha Cuthbert
visit the film locations
Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, W1
Whiteley’s, Bayswater, W2
City Hall, the London Assembly Building on the South Bank alongside Tower Bridge.
Surrey: Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher (rail: Esher, from London Waterloo)
The British romcom is being honed to a solid box-office formula: quality cast, slickly crafted script (there's a novelty in itself), audience-grabbing musical moment, a tearjerkingly satisfying wrap-up and that inevitable fixture of the genre, Hugh Grant. Maybe in years to come they'll be remembered as fondly as the Ealing comedies or the Carry Ons. Maybe.
Love Actually filming location: All You Need Is Love – actually: the wedding at Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair, London
The movie opens and closes at Heathrow Airport, with Hugh Grant's voiceover reassuring us of the ubiquity of warm, fuzzy feelings. The shots of emotional travellers were grabbed documentary-style. Don't worry. Your furtive assignation won't be up there on the big screen – everyone who's featured gave permission to be in the film.
Love Actually filming location: dressed for Christmas: Whiteley's, Bayswater, London
This is a London romcom, so we get the inevitable establishing shots of the city. The galleried atrium, decked out for Christmas, is that of Whiteley’s, the vast Bayswater department store. This is also where Julia Roberts holds her photographic exhibition in Mike Nichols’ film of Closer.
The central court of Somerset House in the Strand, saw sterling service as a movie location over the years (GoldenEye, Sleepy Hollow etc) when it was a rather dull parking lot. Since the building’s renovation, it has been transformed into a pleasant fountain court and, in winter, a skating rink, which is how it appears in the film’s opening montage.
Love Actually filming location: Alan Rickman buys the necklace: Selfridge’s, Oxford Street, London
Oxford Street, an inexplicably crowded shopping hell, is expensive to close down on a weekday, or open up on a Sunday, it”s rarely been seen on screen, though it’s featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy – but the magic name of Richard Curtis coaxed Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street, W1, to open its doors for filming.
After meeting up with his wife Karen (Emma Thompson) at nearby St Christopher’s Place, Harry (Alan Rickman) furtively buys a necklace for flirtatious Mia (Heike Makatsch) in the store. The shop assistant character (Rowan Atkinson), who makes such an elaborate job of wrapping the gift, was originally meant to be a recurring deus ex machina angel character (which is why he reappears with an unexplained knowing smile at the airport towards the end of the film).
One of the first great department stores, there's been a Selfridges on this site since 1909. If you find the sculptural frontage too modest, you’ll be disappointed to learn that a plan to crown the building with a gigantic tower was never realised.
Love Actually filming location: Jamie discovers his girlfriend in flagrante: Blenheim Road, Turnham Green, London
The recording studio, where Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records his cheesy Christmas record, is Westway Studios, Ladbroke Grove in Notting Hill. His record company office is unmistakably City Hall, the London Assembly Building on the South Bank alongside Tower Bridge.
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