Hugh Grant Says He Dreaded Filming Love Actually 's Now-Iconic Dance Scene: 'Excruciating'
Hugh Grant's dance scene in Love Actually is one of the most beloved moments in the 2003 British holiday classic — but the actor himself wasn't exactly thrilled about it going in.
PEOPLE has an exclusive clip from the upcoming ABC News special The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later, hosted by Diane Sawyer, in which Grant, 62, admits he "hate(d)" the idea.
The scene in question sees Grant's character David, a.k.a the prime minister, getting down throughout his residence at 10 Downing Street to a backing track of The Pointer Sisters' "Jump."
"I saw it in the script and I thought, 'Well, I'll hate doing that,' " he recalls to Sawyer, 76, in the special. "I didn't fancy doing the dance at all, let alone rehearsing it."
"He kept saying no," adds writer/director Richard Curtis, joking, "I think he was hoping I'd get ill or something and we'd say, 'Oh, well, what a shame, we'll have to lose that dancing sequence.' "
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Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock Hugh Grant in Love Actually (2003)
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Curtis, 66, tells Sawyer that Grant "was grumpy" on the day they filmed the scene, but "it was a contractual obligation" that he follow through.
"A contractual guillotine, yes," Grant says, agreeing with the phrase Sawyer throws out. "And I'm out of rhythm, by the way, especially at the beginning when I wiggle my ass."
Curtis was ecstatic when Grant committed to the scene, joking to Sawyer, "[I thought], 'That's agonizingly embarrassing. He's just perfect.' "
Grant credits himself with the idea of having the prime minister's secretary catching him in the act, which quickly puts an end to his impromptu boogie.
"And to this day, there's many people — and I agree with them — who think it's the most excruciating scene ever committed to celluloid," he jokes. "But then some people like it."
Curtis calls Grant — whom he has worked with on several films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Notting Hill (1999) and Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) — his "luckiest break," explaining, "I don't even know if I'd have a film career without Hugh, so I'm very grateful he came along."
Despite his initial reservations about the scene, Grant recreated it for a good cause back in 2017 as part of a Love Actually mini-sequel — this time set to Drake's "Hotline Bling."
The 10-minute sequel — written and directed by Curtis — was part of Comic Relief's annual Red Nose Day, a popular fundraiser for children that always draws huge stars for its comedy routines.
Love Actually follows an ensemble cast of primarily London-based characters, whose lives intertwine in various (mostly romantic) relationship-related ways in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Peter Mountain/Universal/Dna/Working Title/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon in Love Actually (2003)
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The upcoming one-hour special marking the 20th anniversary of its making "will look at how the film became a beloved Christmas tradition and a global sensation, with new insight into behind-the-scenes secrets and iconic scenes," according to a release.
"The special will also examine how the COVID-19 pandemic refocused the ways we love and connect and the omnipresent acts of kindness inside our families and communities," the release adds.
Returning alongside Grant and Curtis for the special are Emma Thompson (Karen, Grant's onscreen sister), Laura Linney (Sarah), Bill Nighy (Billy Mack), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Sam), Olivia Olson (Joanna) and more. Also included will be a message from Martine McCutcheon, who plays Natalie, Grant's onscreen love interest.
Love Actually also starred the late Alan Rickman, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rodrigo Santoro, Lúcia Moniz, Martin Freeman, Kris Marshall, Joanna Page, Heike Makatsch, Abdul Salis, Gregor Fisher and Liam Neeson.
The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later – A Diane Sawyer Special airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, and the next day on Hulu.