About the Production
Filming on location in West London and at Shepperton Studios for Notting Hill began on April 17, 1998, marking the beginning of the second stage of the filmmakers' journey from script to screen
Filming on location in West London and at
Shepperton Studios for Notting Hill began on April 17,
1998, marking the beginning of the second stage of the filmmakers'
journey from script to screen. Like many good ideas, it had taken
time to evolve.
Screenwriter Richard Curtis says, "When I was lying sleepless
at nights I would sometimes wonder what it would be like if I
just turned up at my friends' house, where I used to have dinner
once a week, with the most famous person at that time, be it Madonna
or whomever. It all sprang from there. How would my friends react?
Who would try and be cool? How would you get through dinner? What
would they say to you afterwards? That was the starting point,
the idea of a very normal person going out with an unbelievably
famous person and how that impinges on their lives."
With Four Weddings and a Funeral having made cinema history,
it was inevitable that Notting Hill would find itself from
the outset attached by comparisons and expectations.
"Notting Hill," says producer Duncan Kenworthy,
"is not a sequel. Of course people will have expectations
and we hope to live up to those expectations, but we are certainly
not, as we go about making the film, comparing it in any way.
It is another romantic comedy, but very different from Four
Weddings which was a story of big social events with none
of the real life in-between. Notting Hill is the complete
opposite, the day-to-day details of a love affair. What makes
it unusual and special is that it is a love affair between the
most famous woman in the world and just an ordinary guy."
When it came to looking for a director for the project, the producers
went for theatre and television director, Roger Michell.
"Finding someone as good as Roger," says Kenworthy,
"was just like finding the right actor to play each role.
Roger shone out. He has an absolute nose for truthfulness."
This view is echoed by executive producer, Eric Fellner, who says,
"Roger's principal interest is in character. When you have
that truth of character combined with a script as solid as Richard's
you get something very special."
With Michell on board, thoughts turned to casting. "Whenever
you're asked about casting your film," says Kenworthy, "there's
always a fiction that whomever you cast was always your first
choice, but I have to say that Julia Roberts was the one and only
person we thought of for the part of Anna. I remember saying to
Roger, 'let's offer it to Julia' and Roger said, 'we'll never
get her.' So when Julia's agent said it was the best romantic
comedy she had ever read, I thought that was a good sign."
Michell comments, "What Julia brings to the part is an unavoidable
coincidence between who she is-a fantastically famous film star,
and what her role is--a fantastically famous film star. However
she is still acting a part. She is not playing Julia Roberts,
she's playing Anna Scott, another person entirely."
"Julia has a unique ability to come alive when the word 'action'
is spoken. She has a kind of gift for life, a spontaneity and
distillation of real life which suddenly, like a match striking,
goes off on action which is awesome."
When casting the role of William, the decision to offer it to
Hugh Grant was unanimous.
Kenworthy says, "H
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