Love Actually: Growing Up, Growing Old, Growing Kinder

In 2002, I was the script editor for the movie “Love Actually.” My boyfriend wrote and directed it so I literally slept my way into that job (and can highly recommend it as a way of operating).

It was an astonishing cast and an incredibly harmonious shoot: One of my other roles was as the Kissing Consultant (it IS a proper job, it IS) in the scene where Colin Firth proposes to Lucia Moniz in the Portuguese restaurant. My strongest memory of filming was how much it embarrassed my seven year old when she saw us rehearsing my signature move with Colin (brushing a thumb gently over her bottom lip before leaning in), again and again. And again. *Drops Mic*

Cut to 2017 – it’s one month until Red Nose Day UK, the fundraising event Richard (the boyfriend) invented and where I work as a Director (yup – slept my way into that one too). We’re making a mini-sequel to “Love Actually” to broadcast on our big BBC1 show at the end of March – and then on NBC at the end of May.  It’s called “Red Nose Day Actually.” It’s going to be 10 minutes long, and through donations and sponsorship, it will end up making millions of pounds for people living in extreme poverty all over the world.  

We’re half way through filming at the moment, and it’s proving to have been a great plan. But if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make you aware of the passing of the years, it’s working on a follow-up to something you worked on 15 years ago.  And that’s what I wanted to reset here… it’s the age thing

Filming now is not the same. I no longer need to take the kids to nursery on my way to the set. I don’t think we’ll all be jumping again with the cast into a swimming pool fully clothed after shooting a scene (that WAS a good evening). And I can no longer stay up all night at the wrap party and still tip up for work the next day.   

So far we’ve shot scenes with Liam Neeson and Rowan Atkinson – and here’s the strange thing… they haven’t changed – in fact, they were better than ever. Wiser, cleverer, kinder, sharper…  all the skills which make an actor accurate and astonishing have just grown as they’ve matured.

And they seem to be increasingly without ego… I guess there’s no need to shout about how special you are when Apple TV has a back catalogue which is doing that job for you. Most notably, neither of these stars complained when we finished filming their scenes and asked them to quickly wear a red nose for a photo, and put on a Red Nose Day T-shirt, and say a line to camera about our fundraising pack, and while you’re there, could you hold up some of our merchandise to camera, and then sign it, and then approve these photos for our publicity department – oh, and give us a quote about how much you love Red Nose Day – both for the UK one and then another take for the USA… and could you autograph this poster too? Ten posters actually. They behaved as though it was their privilege to help, rather than hating the charity publicity conveyor belt.

Would they have behaved so sweetly in 2002?  Maybe, but I think you can see in their eyes the understanding that only really comes with experience: that there isn’t much real point in the noise and the hoo-haa and the fizziness of celebrity. What matters is making it actually matter. And using the love for “Love Actually” to raise money for people living the toughest of lives… that actually matters.  Every single star we asked to take part in “Red Nose Day Actually” said yes.  Seems to me that it’s a beautiful testament to the beauty of aging – the wisdom, maturity, generosity of spirit and the resetting of priorities that comes with growing up, growing old, growing kinder.


“Red Nose Day Actually” will air in the U.S., Thursday, May 25th, on NBC. Check out a sneak preview HERE