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“Four Weddings and a Funeral ”Turns 30! Writer Richard Curtis Recalls Being 'Shocked' by Its Success (Exclusive)

The hit romantic comedy helped launch Hugh Grant's career

<p>Polygram/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock; </p> The cast of "Four Weddings and a Funeral"

Polygram/Working Title/Kobal/Shutterstock;

The cast of "Four Weddings and a Funeral"

Four Weddings and a Funeral is turning 30!

To celebrate Saturday's anniversary of the award-winning romantic comedy that launched Hugh Grant’s career, PEOPLE asked screenwriter Richard Curtis about its enduring impact.

“I think perhaps, if it lasts, it’s probably for the same reason it got off the ground in the first place,” says the British filmmaker, 67. “A combination of love, friendship, marriage, funerals  — things almost everyone has some stake in.”

In 1994, Four Weddings broke box office records, becoming the highest-grossing British film in history at the time. It earned Best Picture and Original Screenplay Academy Award nominations, and Grant won prizes at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA Film Awards.

While his American love interest onscreen, Andie MacDowell, was already a big star stateside, the movie also raised the profiles of John Hannah, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rowan Atkinson, Simon Callow and more.

Related: Hugh Grant Makes Off-Color Joke During 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' Reunion with Andie MacDowell at 2023 Oscars

<p>Lia Toby/Getty</p> Richard Curtis in 2023

Lia Toby/Getty

Richard Curtis in 2023

“I remember we were really shocked by the original success of the film,” says Curtis, who went on to collaborate with Grant on several more romantic hits, including Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) and Love Actually (2003). 

Grant, 63, has expressed similar sentiments. In a 2016 conversation with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, he revealed that an early cut of the movie tested poorly with audiences. “I thought we'd screwed it up,” he said. “We all thought this was the worst film that's ever been perpetrated. We're gonna go and emigrate to Peru when it comes out so no one can actually find us.”

But a later cut of the movie delighted audiences in California ahead of its 1994 Sundance Film Festival premiere, signaling the movie’s success to come. “Everyone loved it, and it was a great surprise,” said Grant.

Related: Richard Curtis Says Will Ferrell Should've Received Oscar Nomination for 'Elf' : It Makes Me 'Antsy'

<p>Gramercy Pictures/Getty</p> Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant in "Four Weddings and a Funeral"

Gramercy Pictures/Getty

Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant in "Four Weddings and a Funeral"

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In his 2023 memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?, actor Sam Neill remembered that Grant had predicted to him that Four Weddings was “a piece of complete crap.”

Grant later admitted to IndieWire that Neill’s recollection was accurate. "It's true that we were all sure we'd made a giant turkey till the film had its first previews,” he said last year. “I was clearly wrong and the film changed my life."

Curtis, who helped co-found UK child hunger charity Comic Relief, is busy organizing the upcoming Red Nose Day campaign show, to be held March 15.

Related: Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell and the Cast of 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' to Reunite for Charity

<p>PA Images via Getty </p> (Left-right:) Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Hannah and Duncan Kenworthy in 1995

PA Images via Getty

(Left-right:) Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Hannah and Duncan Kenworthy in 1995

Reflecting on Four Weddings’ status as a classic for going on 30 years, the Oscar-nominated writer says it’s a source of nostalgia for many fans. “Perhaps now,” he quips, “it’s nice for people to see what Hugh Grant looked like when he was young and handsome."

Most recently, Curtis wrote the 2023 Melissa McCarthy comedy Genie. Following last year’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Wonka, Grant will next appear in the Kate Winslet series The Regime and as Tony the Tiger in Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story

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