Bill Nighy in Love Actually
Everett Collection

As told to J. Rentilly

Love Actually is a heartfelt jigsaw puzzle of a holiday romance that weaves together the love lives of more than a dozen individuals. While some of the characters are portrayed by big names (Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Liam Neeson among them), when the film was released 10 years ago this month, at least half of its cast was relatively unknown — by design. “The film was meant to be a cunning mixture of famous and not-so-famous,” says writer/director Richard Curtis, who reflects on casting one of the key roles.

“For the role of Billy Mack, the profane, washed-up rock star, I had two quite famous actors in mind to play the part but I just couldn’t decide who to go for. So I went to my wonderful casting director, Mary [Selway], and said, ‘Pick me an actor I don’t know.’ She mentioned Bill Nighy. He didn’t ring a bell but looked about the right age and seemed to fit the competent-but-won’t-­actually-do-it billing. So we had the read-through, and it was totally and utterly and unanimously stolen by Bill’s scintillating performance. I offered him the part as we had a cup of tea afterwards. Lucky day for me — he’s been in every film I’ve made since.”