Rowan Atkinson’s Actions Drove Alan Rickman ‘Insane’ in Memorable Love Actually Scene


Love Actually, a quintessential modern Christmas film, has solidified its place as a perennial favorite over the past two decades since its 2003 release. Despite its status as a seasonal must-watch, the movie encountered an unexpected behind-the-scenes anecdote involving Rowan Atkinson and Alan Rickman that nearly drove the latter to the brink during a pivotal scene.

At its core, the film is a tapestry of interwoven narratives exploring the intricacies of love amidst emotionally charged circumstances. From infidelity and its aftermath to the tender pursuit of affection, each story thread ultimately revolves around the central theme of love.

Yet, amidst the sentimental plotlines, one of the film’s main stars, Alan Rickman, renowned for his roles in the Harry Potter series, found himself on the verge of frustration due to Rowan Atkinson’s on-set antics. The iconic scene between Atkinson and Rickman, where Atkinson’s character painstakingly wraps a gift for Rickman’s character, became a focal point of exasperation for the latter.


Richard Curtis, the movie’s director, revealed in a retrospective special that Atkinson insisted on multiple takes for the scene, some lasting over ten minutes each. This meticulous approach stretched Rickman’s patience to its limits, mirroring his character’s increasing frustration in trying to maintain the gift’s secrecy.

Curtis recalled, “Rowan was just taking his time, so he would do eleven-minute takes, [then] he’d say… ‘look, let’s go back and do that, start [again],’ and poor Alan [Rickman] was there all the time going ‘grr, ugh.'”

The genuine exasperation experienced by Rickman translated perfectly on screen, aligning with his character’s intended impatience and irritation. Knowing that Rickman was genuinely vexed behind the scenes adds an extra layer of entertainment value when revisiting the scene.

In essence, this behind-the-scenes quirk involving Atkinson and Rickman not only reflects the challenges of filmmaking but also adds an intriguing dimension to the dynamics of the movie, making the moment more captivating upon a rewatch.