It’s Christmas time, and we all know what that means: time for the annual rewatch of Love Actually. One of the greatest moments of said annual rewatch is seeing Hugh Grant’s epic dance party through 10 Downing Street — but if you think that was a highlight for the actor too, we have some bad news. Grant says that Love Actually dancing scene was “excruciating” to film, and co-star Colin Firth backs him up.
Grant, Firth, and Love Actually director Richard Curtis are all featured in the new BBC retrospective Hugh Grant: A Life on Screen set to air later this month — but Variety scored sneak peek which shows the trio reminiscing about filming that dancing scene, and it honestly sounds like kind of a mess.
“I do remember him making a terrible fuss about the dance,” Firth recalls. Curtis agrees: “He hated the dance scene.” But Grant swears he was well within his rights to be wary.
“I thought, ‘That’s going to be excruciating,'” Grants says, “and it has the power to be the most excruciating scene ever committed to celluloid.” (As those of us who have seen the film know: far from it.)
Grant was so nervous about filming that particular scene that he remembers dodging rehearsals: “As the weeks went by…[Curtis] would say, ‘Don’t you think we’d better rehearse the dancing scene?’ And I’d say, ‘Oh yeah yeah, I’ve got to learn some lines, my ankle hurts today.’ So, it was never rehearsed.”
“We left it to the final day,” Curtis admits. “But then, as always, he’d actually rehearsed and really had three or four little jokes up his sleeve.” It helped, the director adds, that Grant was “quite good at dancing” anyway.
Good at dancing or not, Grant wants you to imagine what it was like to be in his shoes: “Imagine,” the actor begins, “You’re a grumpy, 40-year-old Englishman. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning. You’re stone-cold sober. And it’s, ‘okay, Hugh, if you’d just like to freak out now?’ It was absolute hell!”
While it may have been “hell” for Grant, Firth maintains that his suffering was worth it: “I think it’s the highlight of the film for a lot of people,” he points out. We’re pretty convinced that Firth is one of those people.
And so are we.