30 December 2020 535 Views

There was and is, actually, a Love Actually sequel..

by James Murphy

..But is it CANON Curtis? Sure!..

Thing is..Richard Curtis does not like sequels. Never makes them. Unless he script doctors someone else’s pitch. Black-Adder does not count, either. The writer was very protective post 4 Weddings and a Funeral. Studios BEGGED for a 5 weddings and a Christening / Bat-Mitzvah typa thing.

One could see both Nine Months (sub Curtis imitation but Hugh Grant still there) and Notting Hill (actual Curtis at peak power; Hugh Grant still there) as compromises. But Notting Beverly Hills / About Space / Car that Rocked..never gonna happen..sorry!). 

 

That said? EVERYONE has a price. In Curtis’ case, it’s charity. As in, if something can raise funds for Comic Relief /good causes of similar nature? Then he will write that sequel, albeit as a mini, non canonical episode.

4 weddings part 2; Love Actually 2 and perhaps, in 2021..Notting Hill 2? The things are made with real pride, wit and love. Shame they are not ACTUAL movies.

But one cannot have everything. It’s a third way, of sorts. Apt, considering the Curtis rom-com coincided with said political movement’s rise to prominence in the 1990s and kinda never left us in either case. That essential ethos of inclusion, a belief in Britain at its best. An aura of optimism, romance, hope. Those values are to be..valued!

We are owed, as audiences, a Hugh Grant woos American girl in best of British montage every few years, same way one can enjoy a panto, a Bond film /Star Wars picture etc.

IE: Taking the Curtis template as part of that is a given, because he more or less invented the genre.

Today? Every second trashy soap opera has a nice montage of Christmas love amidst Carols playing in the background, in between baseball bat thuggery, that is. So there is no longer anything very special in the imagery.

I felt, back in 2007 as indeed I do now, that what Curtis had invented was a kind of franchise template, itself. The more it was copied without his ownership, as a kind of legal IP? The faster the currency would diminish.

I was right, too! Subsequent Curtis movies underperformed at the box office. He lacked a Hugh Grant led, imagery propelled formula. You can still play IN that general recipe and do interesting things with it. You just cannot abandon it or repeat it completely. Nobody can make a Curtis movie without Curtis; and Curtis needs Hugh Grant as a talisman for box office success.

And so, yes. Back to 2007. I did, in fact, as it were, and without putting too fine a point on it.. pitch a Love Actually sequel. Titled Love, Possibly: it was intended to bridge to a third film thereby crafting the definitive rom-com trilogy.

My reasons were sentimental. I had enjoyed the launch of the original movie, even meeting Martine McCutcheon at a shopping store opening, quite by chance. ‘Isn’t he suave and debonair?’ , she said to the adoring crowd. Yes, I am. But an endorsement from someone THAT lovely makes the accolade all the better. Thanks, M! 

I also needed a creative outlet. To write, to pitch, to get a sense of how sequels and franchises worked. I took the view that a rom-com is a kind of civilian counterpart to the action franchise. I focused on what worked for me.

2007 was the year that Tony Blair left office. So I thought the Hugh Grant PM would also have to cope with leaving office. What happens when your poll ratings plummet, having been a big political star? Make that a main premise, possibly excising, for this bridging sequel, the other sub-plot characters a bit? Then reinvent them for part 3, with Hugh’s PM as the framing device again.

My diagnosis was dark for said PM in the first sequel; his ego bruised and his policies tougher than before. Martine would have left, in part, because the job had changed him. And a rival leader was rising up, readied to steal his crown (I had David Tennant in mind for the rival to Hugh). 

And then? Bang. Out of the sky. A new US President and it is a WOMAN! Played by Nicole Kidman (or Naomi Watts if Nic unavailable?); the lady would bring the old PM back to life.

Re-motivated by Nic’s POTUS, Hugh fights on and wins back his office. They never sleep together: she’s a muse. Think Brief Encounter via American President. That way, nobody cheats. She can go back to hubby /kids; Hugh is readied to win back Martine. Political thriller AS rom-com?!

So it ends on a kind of cliff-hanger, leading to a part 3. More upbeat. Love, Definitely: The Much Ado to the Love’s Labours Lost? Alan Rickman back, trying to persuade Emma Thompson of his fidelity. Laura Linney would find new love (Jim Carrey?), helping her to care for her brother yet have a life. Liam would build a school, with Claudia looking on. Keira and Walking Dead This Life dude might meet again.

Bit hazy /sketchy. But there was a pitch and a trilogy template. A Britain reborn IN the fabric OF the films, personified by the rise, fall and then final return to power of Hugh Grant’s PM. 

In any event, there was indeed a mini sequel for Comic Relief. Watch it and donate! And they could still make more of this TYPE of film, even with an older Hugh, who was indeed teamed with Nicole in the Undoing, on HBO this year.

Above all? My sequel pitch started a decade long correspondence with Richard Curtis’ co-pilot/muse/editor/partner, Emma Freud. Trivia: She edited the opening montages from the airport scenes in Love Actually!

Emma liked my passion for the brand and we regularly exchange messages to trade casting tips for the next big Curtis event. A truly cherished privilege to value and all the more in these uncertain times, where charity /media crossovers like Comic Relief are an essential lifeline to many.

Happy New Year 🙂 x

 



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