It also happens to be a favourite Christmas movie of the masses. Consequently, there are countless think pieces and "Definitive Rankings Of" lists. Buzzfeed has given us a great hoard of them over the past 5 years: This is What it's Like to Watch "Love Actually" for the First Time, 50 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "Love Actually", Which Political Party is Hugh Grant Representing in "Love Actually", and, most importantly, The Definitive Ranking of All of the Turtlenecks in "Love Actually".
But I figured, as Love Actually's biggest fan, it was time I do my own Definitive Ranking Of.
Here is my Definitive Ranking of the Best and Worst Love Actually Characters.
10. That Radio Host who Slags off Billy Mack Right Before he Goes Live in Studio With his Colleague
First of all, not only is it unprofessional to bad-mouth a musician just trying to do his best on public radio, it is inconsiderate that he hasn't even seen what is on his friend's show for the day. He's a music snob and a bad friend.
9. Tony, Colin's friend
This guy is a terrible friend to Colin. Instead of listening when Colin tells him he's lonely and wants a girlfriend, or giving him advice on how to talk to women so he doesn't get shut down as much, he calls him "an ugly, lonely asshole" and tells him he "must accept it." Rude! Also, he never makes it quite clear if the movies he's directing are porn; if they are, he's made questionable life choices himself and should ease up on his only friend.
8. The Woman in Charge of Hiring Help for Colin Firth
This character, whose name I JUST learned is Eleonore, can be viewed as a hero - she inadvertently sets up the greatest love story of the movie when she hires Aurelia to work for Jamie. But she's actually really condescending when Jamie tries to speak French, and instead of trying to help translate his English to Portuguese for Aurelia, she just mocks him repeatedly. WHO ARE YOU HELPING, ELEONORE!?!?
Body-shames Natalie. Women bringing other women down is the WORST.
TBH, Peter is a halfway decent character. His two huge flaws, though, are that he is 100% oblivious to his BEST FRIEND'S feelings of being in love with his wife, which tells me he is self-absorbed and makes no effort to ask Mark what he's feeling, AND he hates carollers.
I mean, Jamie's girlfriend should just as equally be on this list, because she was the other half of the cheating pair. But who does that to their own brother?!? This cuts deep. He also calls Jamie boring, which is accurate but still pretty harsh when he's just finished having sex with his brother's girlfriend.
4. Billy-Bob Thornton
Probably worse than the current President of the USA, Billy Bob is slimy, creepy, and arrogant. His worst feature, though, is his complete vagueness when it comes to what his "bad policies" were. (This is a gaping hole in the entire plot of Love Actually; everything all the politicians say is so vague and meaningless that we have to wonder: do they even know what government does?)
MIA! Close your legs at work! Stop hitting on your married boss! Don't wear devil horns as an accessory to a Christmas party! Don't act so mean about someone thinking Mark is your boyfriend! Don't accept a gift from your married boss! STOP LISTENING TO THE RADIO LOUDLY AND DISTURBING YOUR COWORKERS!
Karl is the most tragic character for me, because he's a wimpy little poop head. He knows Laura Linney is in love with him and he reciprocates but he waits two years to make his move. And when he finally stops being a coward, he can't handle a woman as robust and loyal and complicated as Laura Linney! I mean, he is a walking contradiction. He tells her "life is full of interruptions and complications" but as soon as that complication interrupts his sex life ONCE, he puts a kibosh to the whole sordid affair without even having a real conversation about it! He is a pitiful, lonely asshole (Tony should've saved that line for him (except no one could ever call Karl ugly)).
1. Alan Rickman (aka Harry but I have never called him that)
Not to speak ill of the dead, but Alan Rickman is the WORST. He does so many terrible things that I have to list them in bullet-points:
- Cheats on Emma Thompson, his loving devoted wife and mother of his two children, not to mention the sister of the Prime Minister, with the aforementioned terrible Mia. He's not even smart or cool about it. He's awkward and too old and he lets Mia lead him down a terrible road and sees it coming and does nothing to stop it.
- Basically ignores Emma Thompson when she's pouring her heart out to him about finding meaning in her life, and then criticizes her for liking Joni Mitchell.
- Is outrageously inappropriately involved in his colleagues' personal lives. Pro tip: if your much older male boss calls you into his office, tells you to turn off your phone, and advises you to tell another colleague that "you'd like to have lots of sex and babies," REPORT HIM TO HR.
10. Natalie's Family
I'm lumping this group together because as individuals they are great, but together they really shine. Natalie's mum is completely unfazed by seeing the Prime Minister at the door. The dude with the spikey hair is straight out of a mid-90s teen after-school special. The garland on the door is Over. The. Top. Look at how many Christmas cards are on the wall! They are obviously a hit with their friends and neighbours, too. And of course, this family gives us the iconic Christmas Octopus. Eight really is a lot of legs.
9. "I Hate Uncle Jamie!" Kid
This girl in pink knows what is up. She sees Jamie drop off armloads of presents and food before disappearing back to France to ask Aurelia to marry him, and she is not having any of it! Her loud and proud declaration, "I hate Uncle Jamie!", shows us that her priority isn't gifts and food, but sharing the holidays with her family, and she isn't afraid to express herself . You go, Jamie's feminist niece!
Aurelia is badass. She goes to work for an Englishman without knowing any English. She dives into the water to save his book because she recognizes it was her mistake and takes responsibility. She is smarter than Jamie because she knows it's important to make copies and not over-indulge on baked goods!
7. Laura Linney
Not only does Laura Linney, AKA Sarah, look awesome in hats, she is a self-sacrificing hero. She deals with her boss giving her sex advice, she tries to comfort Emma Thompson while they watch Alan Rickman dance shamelessly with Mia at the Christmas party, and she chooses the needs of her brother over her own happiness. Do I wish she could've been more forthcoming with Karl? 100%. Is it tragic? 110%. But watching her interact with her brother shows that she understands her responsibilities and she believes and hopes she can help make his life better. I LOVE YOU LAURA!
Sam believes wholeheartedly in soul mates, and he's more committed than any man I've ever dated. He's goal-oriented and resourceful and resilient. He also inadvertently is grieving the loss of his mother through the pursuit of his one true love. Also, he has the agility of an olympic gymnast.
5. Gavin the Copper
The minorest of minor characters, Gavin is the bees knees because he has the richest, deepest singing voice, and he doesn't hesitate for a minute to regale the young children with his sultry baritone. A good sport and enjoys a good carol sing. Exact opposite of the aforementioned Peter.
4. Joe, Ugliest Man in the World
Joe is the unsung hero of this movie. He has maybe 4 lines in the entire film, but is facial expressions say it all. He has the impossible task of making Billy Mack relevant again, and he works relentlessly to achieve it. Billy tries over and over again to sabotage himself, nearly giving Joe a heart attack. Joe also deals with a battery of public insults from Billy, but he sticks around. He doesn't even get an invite to Elton John's party! Joe is a good man, and I think his relationship with Billy is truly the greatest love story ever told.
We see the most character growth from Daniel in this movie. He's a sad sack at the beginning (and rightly so; his wife just died!), but by the end he has found renewed meaning in his relationship with Sam. He reveals himself to be a great step-dad in that he takes Sam's concerns seriously, and he genuinely does what he can to help make his dreams come true. Daniel is encouraging, helpful, and funny. This is obviously backstory for Taken.
2. Emma Thompson (aka Karen)
Question: Has there ever been a character as likeable, relatable, and strong as Karen? Answer: no. Karen has no ego: not only is her brother the Prime Minister and she never talks about it, she acts genuinely excited about her daughter being the First Lobster in the Nativity play. She is a great friend to Daniel, dropping pearls of wisdom such as "get a grip," she is a fantastic mother and a loyal wife, making papier mache lobster heads and cooking dinner and doing all the Christmas shopping for her family. But she also loves Joni Mitchell #CanCon. She also confronts her horrible cheating husband in the most straightforward yet sentimental way. UGH she is just the BEST and deserves SO much better than gross Alan Rickman! (in the movie, not real life, RIP Alan you wonderful soul.)
1. Mr. Bean
Rowan Atkinson is my favourite character in Love Actually because I think he is a wizard. In my headcanon, he somehow knew that Alan was going to cheat on Emma, which is why he delayed him forever with the gift wrapping. He also knew that Sam was on his way to say goodbye to the love of his life and was able to let him through at the airport. So I ask you, could he be anything BUT a wizard (coming soon to a Fantastic Beasts near you)?!