Love Actually bosses admit that Keira Knightley was “too young for the role”

"But it worked", they explain.

Keira Knightley on the red carpet at the 64th Venice Film Festival
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As the winter months set in and Christmas is within sight, it is officially Love Actually season.

The 2003 Richard Curtis film is a cult classic, featuring nine intertwined stories, played out by the most star-studded of casts. And from Hugh Grant dancing to Girls Aloud, to Andrew Lincoln's paper board romantic gesture, it has provided us with non-stop iconic cinematic moments. 

As the romantic comedy marks its 20-year-anniversary this Christmas (yes, we feel old too), Love Actually bosses and contributors have been sharing stories and anecdotes from its creation. 

Love Actually

(Image credit: ©2003 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved)

No detail has caused quite as many headlines as that of Keira Knightley's age, with the actress just 18-years-old at the time of filming.

Knightley played Juliet, wife of Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), 26, and the object of affection of his best man, Mark (Andrew Lincoln), 30.

Even more surprising still is the fact that Thomas Brodie-Sangster, the actor playing young Sam, was 15 years old at the time of filming, leaving just a three year age gap between him and Knightley.

Thomas Brodie Sangster at the London premiere of Love Actually

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is something that has long baffled viewers, with Love Actually's casting director Fiona Weir opening up about the decision in an interview with The Messenger.

Admitting that on reflection, Knightley was "really strictly speaking, too young for the part," Weir defended the decision.

Knightley had, according to Weir, a "wonderful, open, joyous quality" that was needed for the role, and "it worked".

"I think we believed that she was married to Chiwetel and the object of great love for Andrew Lincoln."

"She was quite young when everyone thought she was older than she was because she'd been acting since she was little," Weir recalled of Knightley, now 38.

But despite her young age, Knightley was also reportedly one of the most in-demand, with Weir explaining that she had major scheduling conflicts with Pirates of the Caribbean.

"They wanted to whisk her off," Weir recalled. "So we had to do quite a bit of clever scheduling to make sure that she could finish being Juliet before she went off to fight pirates with Johnny Depp."

Well, that's that.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.