More big-name thesps in ‘Love’ with Curtis

Rickman, Firth, Neeson, others join romantic romp

LONDON — Writer-director Richard Curtis has added Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Rowan Atkinson, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley, Laura Linney and Liam Neeso to the cast of his helming debut, “Love Actually.”

Cast members already announced include Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and Martine McCutcheon.

Pic, which will start shooting Sept. 2 in France and London, is a romantic comedy comprising 10 separate, though partially interrelated stories.

Grant plays the newly elected British prime minister. McCutcheon, a cockney soap starlet who played Eliza Dolittle to huge acclaim in the National Theater’s recent staging of “My Fair Lady,” will play the tea girl with whom he falls in love.

Thompson will feature as Grant’s sister, and Rickman will play her husband. Neeson has a story of his own involving his relationship with a young stepson. Atkinson has a two-scene cameo.

Also cast are Martin Freeman (“Ali G Indahouse”); Chris Marshall (ITV’s “Dr. Zhivago”); and Andrew Lincoln, most recently in the Channel 4 drama “Teachers,” who shares a plotline with Knightley, the teenage actress from “Bend It Like Beckham.”

Pic is being produced by Duncan Kenworthy, along with Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Financing comes from Universal Pictures and StudioCanal.

Title “Love Actually” is short for “Love Actually Is All Around,” a jokey reference to the theme song of Curtis’ first big scripting hit, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

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