An undeniable Christmas classic, Love Actually is filled with some of the most memorable and heartwarming scenes in rom-com history.
Young Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) racing through the airport to bid his crush Joanna (Olivia Olson) farewell as she jets off to America? Tear-jerking.
However, the airport scene was originally wildly different, with 40 stunt performers working on an elaborate sequence that saw Sam swinging his way across a specially-built Heathrow terminal in a performance worthy of the Olympics.
Stunt coordinator Lee Sheward explained to Metro.co.uk: ‘I think in total there were about 40 stunt men working on Love Actually and people look at it and go “40 stuntmen on Love Actually?”
‘I was on it for something like nine weeks which is quite a lengthy time for a stunt coordinator to be on any production, let alone a rom-com [which] isn’t stunty at all.
‘In the film, there’s a little boy [Thomas]. His dad, Liam Neeson, and he are talking and there’s a throwaway line which is, “I’m off to gym club, dad,” and in the boy’s bedroom on the wall, there’s gymnastics pictures.’
Referencing the airport scene, Lee recalled: ‘We shot at Heathrow terminal four for an evening, a night shoot, and three or four stuntmen [as security guards] were running around chasing [Thomas].
‘But the production actually built a whole airport terminal in Shepperton Studios which I designed with Jim Clay, the production designer, to put in isometric bars into the roof structure.
‘We had [the stunt performers] jumping, vaulting, tumbling, going over seats. We had little carts, the baggage trolleys, we had them going through.
‘We timed this routine, shot it in pieces over a couple of days, but with a lot of rehearsal, where I had two gymnastic doubles for [Thomas] and they would tumble and we’d time it so that a cart would just miss them or people would chuck newspapers and they’d vault over their heads, or somersault, they’d run up the escalator which was built and then jump off the roof and do this isometric bar routine at 25 feet in the air to escape the security guards.’
However, despite the work that went into shooting the scene and building an entire airport terminal, director Richard Curtis felt it wasn’t quite right.
‘Although he did apologise to me when I saw him next, Richard Curtis dropped it from the final cut because he said it didn’t really feel like that sort of movie,’ Lee explained. ‘So all the expense, cost of building and shooting it all isn’t in the film!’
Thankfully, the deleted scene is still available to watch online, and Lee and the team’s work didn’t go to waste.
Meanwhile, the stuntman, who’s also worked on films including Hot Fuzz, Mission: Impossible, and The Fifth Element, was still hard at work on other scenes of the movie, for example making sure Aurelia actress Lúcia Moniz could safely jump into the lake in the scene with Colin Firth.
‘The other stuff, we went to the south of France and did a little car [stunt],’ Lee recalled. ‘One of the actresses had to dive into a pond […] and I had to make sure she didn’t hit the bottom.
‘[It was] basically looking after the actors, the little things like that,’ he added, pointing out that while big Mission Impossible-style stunts are more high profile, the smaller ones are still vitally important.
‘It’s all still part of what we do!’
Credit: Original article published here.