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bitchy | Love, Actually director: ‘The lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable & a bit stupid’


I love the 2003 film Love, Actually – I’m just going to say that up front. That’s not popular to admit these days but it’s true and I can’t pretend otherwise. I know there are problems with it, and I understand why people don’t like it, but I just felt we should start this post from a place of honesty. The film is 20 years old. While it came out in 2003, it was filmed in 2002, so I guess that’s how that math works. Diane Sawyer did one of her sit-down specials to acknowledge the milestone. It’s called The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later and aired last Tuesday. One of the more interesting things said during the special came from director Richard Curtis. He told Diane that he is embarrassed about the lack of diversity in the film. I mean, obviously I knew there was a lack of diversity, but I was surprised not only that Curtis acknowledged it, but is embarrassed by it.

When Love Actually writer and director Richard Curtis considers his 2003 hit today, he has some regrets.

“There are things you’d change but, thank God, society is changing, so my film is bound, in some moments, to feel out of date,” he told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later special that aired Tuesday. (The movie was filmed in 2002.)

“The lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid,” Curtis explained. “You know, I think there are sort of three plots that have sort of bosses and people who work for them.”

The large Love Actually cast is predominantly white. So much so that some Netflix subscribers called out the streamer in 2018, accusing it of targeting them according to race or ethnicity with that movie and others. Black customers, for instance, said they were shown a photo of Chiwetel Ejiofor, one of the few non-white actors in the romantic comedy, to advertise it. They found that to be misleading, because Ejiofor’s part is so small. At the time, Netflix said reports that it considered demographics when personalizing artwork were “untrue.”

[From Yahoo]

“There are things you’d change but, thank God, society is changing, so my film is bound, in some moments, to feel out of date.” Curtis is an inherently optimistic person so it makes sense that he would find a way to spin this in a way to highlight progress. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think we should focus on the fact that society has evolved to a point that it shines a light on movies like Love, Actually and how blindingly white they are. Good for Curtis for admitting he was short-sighted when he made it and recognizes that out loud. And shame on Netflix for trying to put all the non-white actors out front while trying to promote it as if viewers wouldn’t notice how little representation there was.

The Diane Sawyer special is on Hulu if anyone else is still a fan. There are some sweet moments and funny behind-the-scenes parts. Many of the stars are interviewed. Curtis said he’d like to make another positive Love inspired film but based on the acts of kindness stories from the Covid pandemic. That would be amazing, I’d watch the hell out of that.

Here’s the trailer for the special:

Photo credit: Cat Morley and JPI Studios/Avalon


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