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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 21:50 GMT
Love film première seduces fans
Hugh Grant with co-stars Martine McCutcheon (left) and Keira Knightley
Hugh Grant with Martine McCutcheon (left) and Keira Knightley
Some of the UK's biggest screen stars turned out for the British première of romantic comedy Love Actually in London on Sunday.

Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson - who are in the film - were among those on the red carpet.

The film is the first to be directed by Richard Curtis, who wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.

A crowd of several thousand were at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, some waiting more than five hours.

The première, also attended by Keira Knightley, Martine McCutcheon and Bill Nighy, was raising money for the Comic Relief charity.

Hugh Grant signing autographs
Many of the fans had been waiting to get a glimpse of Grant
The film will be released across the UK on Friday and combines 10 separate stories - all connected by the theme of love.

Grant plays the UK prime minister, who falls for his tea lady, played by former EastEnders actress McCutcheon.

Grant revealed that he asked Curtis to make changes to his lines because he was becoming tired of playing nice men.

He had "a few little notes" for Richard after reading the script, he told BBC News Online.

"Although I thought it was a superb script, I was a little nervous to go back to being Mr Nice Guy. I've quite enjoyed being less nice in Bridget Jones and About a Boy."

But he added that Curtis was "by far and away the best comedy writer I know and it's always going to be difficult to turn down a Richard script".

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley in Love Actually
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley star in one of the strands
Curtis stated his desire to work with Grant again, saying: "I know he's not a nice guy and if I use him again I'll try to be closer to his real character."

Curtis, who was made a CBE in 2000, wrote the scripts for films including Bridget Jones's Diary and The Tall Guy as well as Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

He refused to say whether he would direct again, but told reporters his next film was still some way off.

"It will take the usual three years before I get around to it again," he said.

Love Actually took almost $16m (£9.5m) in its first two weekends on release in the United States and Canada, but has received mixed reviews from critics.

Curtis said: "I'd rather make a film that most of the audience liked and some critics didn't rather than a film that critics loved and nobody wanted to watch."

Martine McCutcheon and Hugh Grant at Love Actually premiere
The film is expected to be one of the biggest British hits of the year
Some of the cast also rounded on reviewers, with Rickman calling the press "cynical" and Nighy saying he refused to read the write-ups.

"I know about the movie and I know about the figures in America and I know what the American public think - the few individuals that write for the newspapers, I've no idea," Nighy said.

Nighy plays an ageing rock star in the film - and is hotly tipped to have the UK Christmas number one single in real life with a song featured in the film.

The track, Christmas is All Around, was "Godawful", he said - but urged people to buy it because money went to Comic Relief.

The prospect of being Christmas number one was "complete lunacy", he said, adding: "I don't think I'm ever going to be a rock star."

This is the first time we've all been together, I think
Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley's part in the film completed a year in which she has become one of Hollywood's hottest properties after starring opposite Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

"The last 12 months have been completely crazy - I've been really lucky because the work I've been involved with has been really special, I think," she told BBC News Online.

"The opportunity to work with Richard Curtis was incredible - I've been such a huge fan of his and the idea of being in his directorial debut was something that absolutely couldn't be missed."

She also revealed that she had not crossed paths with many other cast members until Sunday because they all filmed separate "films within a film".

"This is the first time we've all been together I think, and having my picture taken with Hugh Grant - that was the longest time I've ever spent with him and it was rather fabulous," she said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's David Sillito
"It's a film jam-packed with British stars"



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Love Actually premiere
16 Nov 03  |  Photo Gallery
Love Actually's sweet overdose
16 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Love Actually stars reunite in NY
07 Nov 03  |  Entertainment
Actor Grant handed Kubrick award
09 Nov 03  |  Entertainment


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