The director and the writer of some of the most heartwarming cult classic romantic movies like Notting Hill, Love Actually and Birdget Jones’s Diary, Richard Curtis is in conversation with us about romance and love. This Valentine’s Day tune-in to some of his romantic movies on Valentine’s Day special line-up on Sony PIX all day and Notting Hill at 8 PM.
Q The first film you directed, Love Actually, is a universally loved film. Would you like to share something on that?
Love Actually was a very strange experience. We had a reading of the movie before we shot it and it went well and it looked as though it is a really good film. Once it was completed, we watched it and we thought it was a disaster. It was a really difficult thing to get right because when you are telling 10 stories it turns out that you might have to tell 3 themes for one and then finish one of the stories halfway through. So the movie I had done was looking as though it is going to be un-releasable hence I was so happy that it ended up good.
Q What did you have in mind while shaping up Hugh’s character in Notting Hill?
Originally, I didn’t want to cast Hugh because I thought it would be so much fun to cast an actor people have never seen before having an affair with Julia Roberts. But we interviewed a few people and I suddenly saw that it was going to be impossible to find anyone as good as Hugh. So I think what I was looking for that character had to with age. Four Weddings and a Funeral is about a young man and Notting Hill is about someone who had been married and got divorced and lost faith. I was trying to write a film about love when you are a bit exhausted and worried in your ‘30s rather than young love when you are hoping to meet the right girl in your twenties. That was on my mind when I was writing Notting Hill.
Q Which is your favorite female character among all your romantic movies and why?
I suppose because you are an Indian I can answer this because I am scared of all the actresses and I wouldn’t want them to read this… I mean strangely the very thought of Rachel McAdams performance in About Time is my favourite. I think this is because, halfway through the movie she becomes a wife and a mother and I think in my other movies you just see the potential of actress but you don’t really know if it’s going to work out. What I loved about About Time, that it was going through the romance in the first half of the movie on how difficult it is to deal with a death. I loved how Rachel had a lot of rage in that movie.
Q Your work started out with quite hard-hitting comedy and now you’re known for romantic films - how did that end up happening?
When I was young and doing sitcoms in my early years called Not the Nine O’Clock News and trying to be funny. I now realise that you are learning your craft and I think that it is quite great that all I was doing for the first 10 years of my career was trying to crack jokes and basically what happened then is that I started writing movies I wanted to write about feelings and I always try and use the joke ingredients that I gained over these years. I feel I am really lucky as sometimes you see romantic comedy movies that have no jokes in them and you think that this person has got all the feelings but he can’t do the jokes as well. It was very natural for me to write about more meaningful things about family, children, love and friendship but I hope that those 10 years left me able to do some good stupid jokes. Also, I think the movies work best when they have got real feelings and also people falling over and saying funny things.
Q What have you enjoyed doing the most, writing or directing?
Actually it’s neither of those, its editing. Writing is all about willingness to work; directing is all about ‘Can we finish the day?’ as you have got only one day to do the biggest and most important of the scenes. But with editing you have all the time in the world and in this process everything slowly gets better. It’s like making a house when until you put all the drawers and the decoration it looks horrible and that is what editing does to a film and it is my favorite part.