Love Actually: Richard Curtis kept big secret from Martine McCutcheon ahead of film

Curtis told actor secret detail to calm her nerves before filming began

Martine McCutcheon says she lost her nerve before filming first Love Actually scene with Hugh Grant

Richard Curtis has revealed he kept a big secret from Martine McCutcheon before filming Love Actually.

McCutcheon appears in the film as Natalie, the love interest of Grant’s Prime Minister character, and ahead of the film, she admits to feeling like she “wasn’t thespian or highbrow enough to be a part” of the high-profile cast.

At the time, she was best known for playing Tiffany in BBC soap EastEnders, but her role in the film saw her acting alongside Grant and Emma Thompson.

What she didn’t realise, though, was that Curtis had written the role for her.

Speaking in a new video in promotion of a charity Love Actually quiz, Curtis admits that the character was originally called Martine in the script. 

However, so it wouldn’t put any more pressure on McCutcheon than was necessary, he quickly changed her name to Natalie before sending it over to the actor.

He eventually told her the news when she told him she had intense nerves ahead of filming her first scene with Grant.

“I spent most of my life with imposter syndrome thinking I was going to be kicked out of anywhere fabulous,” she says in the clip.

“I remember calling him and saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hold my own for this first rehearsal today. I can do theatre and TV, but movies with these huge stars and Oscar winners, and the heart throb of all time, Hugh Grant – will I be able to hold my own?”

Martine McCutcheon’s character was named ‘Martine’ in ‘Love Actually’s first script

She says Curtis then reassured her by explaining the part had been written for her long before she auditioned for the role.

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“[Richard] told me, ‘Oh shut up, we wrote the part for you, and Hugh can’t wait to meet you, and wanted you to be a part of it all along.’”

McCutcheon is hosting the charity quiz, which will also feature Curtis, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley and Kris Marshall. 

The quiz costs £5 to take part, with tickets available at comicrelief.com/loveactually

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