Entertainment

Richard Curtis on his new Christmas film reboot – and why he won’t remake Love Actually

Twenty years ago rom-com writer Richard Curtis brought out a Christmas film that went on to become a staple part of festive watching for many.

Love Actually didn’t necessarily win over critics but it was a hit with audiences and is a regular fixture on the best Christmas film lists.

Now Curtis has returned to the genre to write a re-make of his 1991 TV movie Bernard And The Genie – but says he has no plans to remake the other festive film he’s known for.

Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually Pic: Peter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock
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Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually Pic: Peter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock

“No, I’ve thought about whether I ever want to do a multi [story film] – I love movies with lots and lots of characters in it,” the writer told Sky News’ Backstage podcast.

“But I think I’d be pretty sure to make sure it wasn’t set at Christmas this time.

“I think I’ve probably done my Christmas multi-stories story.”

Richard Curtis arrives for a gala screening of Genie at Ham Yard Hotel, Soho, London. Picture date: Sunday November 26, 2023.
Image:
Richard Curtis at a gala screening of Genie in London

His new film Genie is a comedy about Bernard – a man struggling professionally and personally who tries to make changes to his life with the help of a magical being.

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It draws on the work it’s based on, but brings it up to date, and sees it set in a new location, and with one female lead rather than two men.

He says it was soon after 1991’s Bernard And The Genie came out that he thought about re-writing it.

“Funnily enough, I actually wrote my sort of first draft of this about five years after the original film, and then I let it lie,” he said.

A fairy-tale comedy about a workaholic man who enlists the help of a magical genie to help win his family back before Christmas.
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Genie is fairy-tale comedy about a workaholic man who enlists the help of a magical genie to help win his family back before Christmas

“And I just thought I would love to do another Christmas movie, and so I took it out and refreshed it in many ways, particularly having a female Genie and moving it to New York.

“But it’s been in my head for a long time and I always think the best projects are the ones that have had time to stew.

Updating work for modern audiences isn’t unusual – Roald Dahl‘s books have seen changes made to them to reflect contemporary attitudes and Genie is by no means the only film being given a modern twist.

Curtis says it makes sense that work is refreshed as audiences evolve.

“I think in many areas tastes have changed and we’re more aware of things that we should say – we should talk about climate change all the time if we possibly can – and things that, you know, it’s no longer right or polite in any way to say,” he explained.

Sky Original, Genie, available on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW from 1 December.
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Sky Original, Genie, is available on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW from 1 December

“So as I write, I’ve always got my 20-year-old daughter on my shoulder saying ‘Dad are you sure?'”

He says that updating the Genie to be a woman in his new film gave a new perspective to the character who is trying to help Bernard with his marital issues.

“My original version – like when I first wrote a script of this – had the Genie as a man again,” Curtis admitted.

Sky Original, Genie, available on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW from 1 December.
Image:
Sky Original, Genie, is available on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW from 1 December

“And so just to be able to come back to it and have to look at every line and say, ‘Is this the right one? Is this the right attitude? What would she know?’

“And I particularly love the fact that she’s trying to fix a marriage and she’s a woman who probably knows more about how Bernard’s wife feels than Bernard does.”

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While Curtis may not have plans to update Love Actually, he perhaps hasn’t ruled out setting something during another holiday – joking that he could have some fun with Halloween.

“The happy version of Halloween or just killing off most of the cast?” he queried.

“I’d like to kill off Hugh Grant in one of my films – that would be a real joy.”

Love Actually
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Love Actually

Genie is out on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW. For more on the film listen to the latest episode of Backstage, the film and TV podcast from Sky News.

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