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NOTTING HILL

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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