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Ten years ago, Love Actually hit theaters, and with it came an endlessly re-watchable Christmastime collection of love stories that are actually, well, all around us. The film explored 10 separate vignettes — some heartwarming and hilarious, some tragic and heartbreaking – that saw its characters “get the sh–” kicked out of them by love. To celebrate the film’s legacy, we reached out to the film’s cast to talk about their storylines and behind-the-scenes takes.
If you ever see Rodrigo Santoro in an airport, you can bet he’s thinking of one film: Love Actually.
“Every time I walk in the airport, I remember this movie. Every. Time,” he tells EW. “When I walk around, I look at people and observe people. I’m always interested in seeing what they’re going through, and that comes from that movie.”
And anyone who’s seen Love Actually knows what he’s talking about: The opening montage, featuring candid shots of family members and friends greeting loved ones at Heathrow Airport, showed that, as Hugh Grant says in his voiceover, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion love actually is all around.”
Love actually was all around for most of the couples in the film, but only one pair failed to get together and achieve closure in the end (the two don’t even appear in the final scene with the rest of the cast). Santoro’s Karl and Laura Linney’s Sarah came thisclose to reaching their happily ever after, until the ringing of Sarah’s cell phone interrupted it all.
But to Linney, that failure made their story relatable.
“Sometimes life doesn’t allow relationships to happen,” she says. “That’s what the tension of the story was: It was driven by the pull of and the distraction, the worry, the concern, and the fear of not being there for someone else even when it’s against your best interest. And actually, a lot of people over the years have come up to me and said, ‘That was my story.'”
The majority of fans, though, don’t see it that way — Santoro recalls a fan who promised him she would never pick up in the same situation — with most wishing Sarah just ignored the calls.
Even Santoro admits to asking director Richard Curtis after reading the script why he and Linney got the short end of the stick.
“I was like, ‘Richard, we’re the sad ending!’ He goes, ‘Yeah, it’s okay,'” he says. “But it was on purpose, it was meant to be that way because that’s life. It’s not always happy.”
Though the Brazilian actor says filming his scenes with Linney went “smoothly,” he remembers feeling out of place at first as the only actor apart from Lúcia Moniz whose native language was not English. That is, until Linney took him aside and introduced him to the rest of the cast.
“I thought, ‘Wow, all these guys!'” Santoro recalls about seeing the entire ensemble during their first table read, including Liam Neeson and Alan Rickman, who sat across from him. “That was a very intimidating experience because I grew up watching these guys.”
Linney, meanwhile, faced her own challenges while filming in London for Love Actually: The actress was shooting Mystic River at the same time in Boston and had to fly back and forth for weeks. “I felt like I was in some crazy intercontinental repertory theater,” she says.
But when it came time to work with the ensemble, the actress says it “felt like actor camp.”
“It was a remarkable sort of gathering of folks,” Linney says. “Most of the time, moviemaking can be really challenging and it can be really satisfying, but rarely is it fun. And I just remember having a lot of fun on that one, and that’s because of the people.”
Ultimately, both Santoro and Linney say their characters would have moved on 10 years after the events of the film, because the relationship wasn’t meant to work out. (Santoro, for his part, jokes that if audiences desperately need a happy ending, he imagines the couple would have gone to Bali for their honeymoon and traveled around the world because Karl had become “a very famous architect, like doing so well it’s not even funny.”)
Linney notes, however, that just because their vignette ended without a hookup doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fulfilling one — at least for her.
“I got the best kiss!” she says, laughing. “That’s what I think. But it’s true, a lot of times, those things don’t work out, and I’m more than happy to represent that type of story.”