Christmas is right around the corner (kind of), which means for many of us it’s Christmas movie time. Films like Elf (2003), Home Alone (1990) and, of course, Love Actually (2003) come to mind. But what ever happened to the cast members of our favourite films? Where did they go when the tinsel was taken down and the Christmas trees were packed away? Well, Will Ferrell is still pumping out comedy classics (and a couple of flops) and Macaulay Culkin got married and divorced all before he turned 24 . Here we follow up with the stars of Love Actually and see what they’re up to these days.
Thomas Brodie-Sangster was only 13 years old when he starred in Love Actually, although he seemed much younger. The Christmas classic was his first role in a major theatrical film. He then went on to star in a variety of films and television, even voicing Ferb in Disney’s hit animated series Phineas and Ferb. Some of his film credits include The Maze Runner series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Game of Thrones. There’s no denying that he’s had a successful career, but if we’re being totally honest, in our minds he’ll perpetually be young, smitten Sam.
Colin Firth was a household name well before starring in Love Actually. Who can forget the reticent, scowling Mr Darcy (or the infamous lake scene) in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice? Or the aloof, awkward human rights lawyer in Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)?
But did you know that he can sing as well? He has since gone on to star in a whopping 42 films since Love Actually, including musicals Mamma Mia! (2008) and Mary Poppins Returns (2018) and won an Academy Award for his performance in The King’s Speech (2010). He even co-authored a scientific paper (yes, really) on a study into the differences in brain structure between people of differing political views. Is there anything that Colin Firth can’t do?
The late ’90s and early ’00s were arguably Hugh Grant’s heyday, with top-grossing films such as Notting Hill (1999) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001). It seems for Grant, Love Actually was really just a drop in a stream of box office hits. Grant took a two year hiatus in 2004, returning to our screens with the pop parodies American Dreamz (2006) and Music and Lyrics (2007). Interestingly, he learned to sing and play the piano for his role in Music and Lyrics, despite apparently never listening to music nor owning any CDs. What kind of weirdo doesn’t listen to music?
These days, Grant has had a bit of a career renaissance, steering away from goofy parodies toward more respectable roles (and yes, 2017’s Paddington 2 is a very respectable film). Oscar buzz surrounded his acting in Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) and his foray into television with A Very English Scandal was described by the Boston Globe as “utterly captivating”. Overall, it seems that life has been pretty good for Hugh Grant, barring a few, ahem, controversial blips along the way.
Much like Hugh Grant, Kiera Knightley has remained a staple of British pop culture. It seems that after Love Actually, the only way was up, with Knightley scoring roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and an Academy Award nomination for Pride and Prejudice (2005). Since then, she has continued to star both onscreen and onstage, making her West End debut in 2009 with The Misanthrope and her Broadway debut in 2015 with Thérèse Raquin. These days, Knightley shows no signs of stopping, having starred in four films in the past twelve months (you don’t have to be a mathematician to know that’s a lot).
Bill Nighy’s career started in 1976, starring primarily in stage plays, television and radio series, so it goes without saying that he had already accomplished a fair amount before his role as Billy Mack. Following Love Actually, he went on to star in significantly more films, including Hot Fuzz (2007), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (2010). He even starred alongside Keira Knightley in two Pirates of the Caribbean films. At the age of 69, Nighy isn’t slowing down a jot, with two films currently in post-production.
Olivia Olson was the youngest major cast member of Love Actually and was just eleven years old when the film was released. Since then, she has gone on to focus primarily on voiceover roles for several animated series and films, including Marceline the Vampire Queen in the Emmy Award-winning series Adventure Time.
She also voiced the character of Vanessa Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb, her second role opposite Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Much like her character Joanna, Olson is a talented singer (and songwriter). She frequently posts original songs on YouTube and released her album Nowhere Land just last year.