Love Actually has become a holiday viewing tradition for many and stands as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, thanks to its ensemble cast, multiple interconnecting storylines, and eternally quotable dialogue. There’s one scene that lives in infamy probably more than any other, however, and that’s the one where David the Prime Minister celebrates his verbal bashing of the US president with an impromptu dance party. It turns out that Hugh Grant hated that scene — a fact that stands true as the beloved movie it set to celebrate its 20-year anniversary. The actor will, however, take credit for one “genius” addition to the number.

Hugh Grant was one of several Love Actually actors who spoke with Diane Sawyer for The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later. The actor’s grumpiness was well-documented by writer and director Richard Curtis, co-star Emma Thompson, and even Grant himself, particularly when it came to that dance. Grant told Sawyer: 

I think I saw it in the script, and I thought, ‘Well I’ll hate doing that.’ No Englishman can dance when they’re sober at 8 in the morning. … And I’m out of rhythm, by the way, especially in the beginning when I wiggle my ass. The later bit, right at the end, when I’m doing this [points and turns], my lips are out of sync with the song. But I will give myself this credit. It was my idea to have the secretary lady catch me. Genius.

Hugh Grant has had 20 years to ruminate on the popular dance number to “Jump” by The Pointer Sisters, which his character broke into after publicly dismantling Billy Bob Thornton’s United States president. It’s obvious from the way Grant can immediately point out the scene’s flaws that he’s given it some thought over the past two decades. At least there’s one part of the scene he can take pride in, and he definitely should, because the Prime Minister being caught in the middle of his celebration is such a classic moment.

That doesn’t make his overall feelings about it any warmer, as he said on the ABC special:

And to this day, you know, there’s many people, and I agree with them, who think it’s the most excruciating scene ever committed to celluloid. But then some people like it.

Richard Curtis seemed to know people would like it, and despite Hugh Grant’s initial refusal to do the scene, the director stood his ground, ultimately pulling rank on the actor. Curtis recalled: 

He kept saying no. I think he was hoping I’d get ill or something, and he’d say, ‘Oh what a shame, we’ll have to lose that dancing sequence. … Oh he was grumpy. He was grumpy. But he knew it was a contractual obligation. A bit of contractual obligation acting.

Longtime fans of the movie would likely say it was well-worth the director’s fight, but Richard Curtis did admit to thinking it was “agonizingly embarrassing” when he saw Hugh Grant filming the dance number.

Love Actually doesn’t seem to be losing popularity anytime soon, and unfortunately for Hugh Grant, that dance may stick with him for another two decades. You can check out the actor in these great performances by Grant that you probably missed, and If you want to give the classic rom-com a rewatch, Love Actually can be streamed with a Peacock Premium subscription.  

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