Billy Mack is the first character we meet in Love Actually, and he remains one of the best. A crusty old rockstar, he’s making a comeback with a Christmas hit that he despises. Billy remains one of the most enduring characters mostly because he was so believable as a champion of the music industry, who had always been partying too hard to find real love other than with Joe, his hard done by manager.
Bill Nighy was one of the UK’s biggest actors before Love Actually, and remains to be so. Since the 2003 hit, he’s appeared in About Time, Pride, and The Kindness of Strangers, but he has an epic back catalogue of award-winning roles behind him.
Our sweet, heartbroken angel. Emma Thompson starred as Karen, the unsung hero of the film, who is managing the mental load of Christmas alone. She has two young kids, a lobster costume to create, a close friend who’s just lost his wife, a politician brother who won’t return her calls, and a slimy, cheating husband all sitting atop her plate. It’s no wonder she’s often a favourite character out of the many in the film – her frazzled narrative is a little bit too relatable this time of year, even with the cheating aside.
Emma has continued to be a darling of the screen and stage since bringing Karen to life. She starred in Late Night, Last Christmas, and more recently, Cruella. She'll soon be starring as Ms Trunchbull in a film adaptation of Matilda the Musical.
Our ongoing dislike of Alan Rickman’s character, Harry, is really just a testament to what a wonderful actor he was. Alan starred as Karen’s husband, whose eyes wandered over to his new secretary, Mia, right before Christmas.
Alan Rickman was known for playing iconic villains – he was Hans Gruber in another Christmas classic, Die Hard, and famously played Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise.
Unfortunately, Alan passed away in 2016, having revealed only to his closest friends that he was suffering from terminal cancer.
As sweet as Prime Minister David’s love affair with staffer Natalie might come across in the film, we’re not too sure how effective a politician he really was, given he started a minor international conflict over a girl.
Nevertheless, Hugh Grant was a joy in Love Actually, and even gave us one of the most iconic dance scenes of the early 2000s. Of course, he was already big among the romantic comedy scene before Love Actually, and continued on in there for a while. However, he’s since come clean about his preference for playing the villain.
Liam Neeson’s Taken-style parenting vibes definitely began in Love Actually. A devoted stepdad to little Sam, his ongoing support and encouragement continues to warm the cockles of our cold hearts each Christmas.
Liam Neeson was another massive name for the film. While he’s not much of a rom-com actor, it was so lovely to see his range come out as the dependable Daniel. Recently, we’ve seen him in the likes of Honest Thief, The Marksman and The Ice Road.
The legion of foppish romantic comedy leads continues with Colin Firth in the role of Jamie, the unlucky-in-love novelist who falls for Aurelia, the Portuguese housekeeper at his French chateau. Their cultural melting pot-romance was based mostly on vibes, given they didn’t speak the same language, and even when Jamie learned Portuguese, his efforts were still pretty pathetic. However, his iconic public proposal in the film would lead women worldwide to repeat the line “yes is being my answer” to their televisions during December.
In our minds and hearts, Colin Firth will only ever be Mr. Darcy from the 1995 miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice. He has done a lot more though, recently starring in the Kingsman and Mamma Mia franchises, as well as films like The Secret Garden and Supernova and even winning an Oscar for his role in The King's Speech.
Fun fact: Keira Knightley was only 18 when she starred in Love Actually, which is bizarre considering she literally gets married in the first few minutes. Keira starred as Juliet, the new wife of Chiwetel Ejiofor’s character Peter, and the object of the affections of his best friend, Mark.
Since then, Keira Knightley’s star only went on to rise. She played Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean and Elizabeth Bennet in a film version of Pride and Prejudice. She also starred in Begin Again, Never Let Me Go, The Imitation Game, and many, many more projects.
If Emma Thompson is the unsung hero of the film, Chiwetel Ejiofor is the unsung breakout star.
Starring in the role of Peter, Chiwetel wasn’t a major role, but has since gone on to become a celebrated actor. He was nominated for Best Actor at the 2013 Academy Awards for his role in 12 Years A Slave, which also won Best Picture. He’s also joined the Marvel franchise as Karl Mordo in the Dr. Strange films. It’s odd to think his role in Love Actually was one of his first, given the career he’s built over the last 18 years.
The delightful Sarah, who lived in unrequited love with her colleague, Karl, was always a Love Actually favourite. While we might have screamed at her to not answer her phone in 2003, and keep making out with the Adonis designer from her office, recent years have seen a softening for her character, who cares deeply for those around her, including her sick brother. Plus, Karl really didn’t have to walk out on her. He’s the real villain here.
Laura Linney, who did such a good job in Love Actually, was just another drawcard for the already super-talented cast. She did the likes of The Truman Show in 1998, and films like Mr. Holmes and Nocturnal Animals in the years since. She’s also a regular on the hit show, Ozark.
We don’t mean to shock you, but effervescent, adorable Sam is now 31.
Daniel (Liam Neeson)’s stepson steals a lot of the film with his endeavours to make his classmate, Joanna, fall in love with him. His grand plan involves him learning an instrument, and learning a lot about love along the way.
Since Love Actually, Thomas Brodie-Sangster has played a number of really cool roles. He was Paul McCartney in Nowhere Boy, and also joined the cast of ratings juggernaut Game of Thrones as Jojen Reed. More recently, he was seen in The Maze Runner franchise, and in The Queen’s Gambit, a hit Netflix show.
He's currently starring in The Artful Dodger, an Australian-based production that just premiered on Disney Plus.
Where to stream Watch Love Actually in Australia
As we patiently wait for the reunion special, why not watch the film? It’s a classic for a reason!