Love Actually child stars are all grown up - see them today

It's been nearly 20 years since Love Actually hit screens, but the feel-good festive movie is still a must watch at Christmas time. While we like to fondly remember the child cast's stellar performances, they've obviously changed quite a bit since 2003. Here's what they're up to now.

Sam played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster was 13 years old when he played the stepson of Liam Neeson's recently widowed character Daniel in Love Actually. Both were recovering from the death of Sam's mum.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Love Actually
Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays Liam Neeson's stepson Sam in Love Actually. Photo: YouTube

In the film, Sam falls in love for the first time with American exchange student Joanna. After turning to his stepfather for advice, Sam learns to play drums to impress singer Joanna.

Now 32, Thomas has continued acting, appearing in huge blockbusters and TV shows such as The Maze Runner, Game of Thrones and The Queen's Gambit, but he's still happy to be remembered for his role in Love Actually.


"It's something I'm really proud of. It's cool to be in a film that's somehow still gaining momentum," he told The Guardian this year.

"It did quite well but it wasn't a huge blockbuster. But over the years it's gained that cult following."

He also revealed he'd only recently watched the movie a second time after first seeing it at the premiere in 2003, saying it was "pretty good, brilliant writing... And great acting all round."

Talulah Riley and Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Talulah Riley and Thomas Brodie-Sangster are coy about discussing their relationship in public. Photo: Getty

Thomas met his girlfriend Talulah Riley, 37, (the ex-wife of Elon Musk) when they filmed the Sex Pistols mini series Pistol together, Thomas playing the band's manager Malcolm McLaren and Talulah playing his partner Vivienne Westwood.

"Thankfully we're not too much like Viv and Malc," is all he's said about their relationship publicly, but they are often spotted out and about at events in the UK like Wimbledon together.

Talulah Riley and Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Thomas met his girlfriend when they filmed the TV series Pistol together. Photo: Getty Images

With Christmas approaching, Thomas is no doubt getting ready for the inevitable seasonal recognition boost he enjoys each and every year.

"I do get recognised a lot more around that time!" he told NME. "But that’s fine, I don't mind – it's quite funny, really. It's just part of it."

Joanna played by Olivia Olson

Sam's love interest in the film was played by Olivia Olson, who was just 10 when she belted out Mariah Carey's hit All I Want For Christmas is You. Her now famous performance was so good that some people didn't believe it was actually her singing.

Director Richard Curtis even asked her to tone the performance down a little so audiences would find it more believable.

"'She sounds too good. No one’s going to believe that she’s really singing that.' So they’re like, 'Okay, Hi, Olivia. Um, great job. Do you think you could do it a little less good?'," Olivia told EW.

Olivia Olson in Love Actually
Olivia Olson played American exchange student Joanna. Photo: YouTube

It was no surprise when recording contracts started to roll in after the movie, but Olivia turned them all down.

"Record companies were trying to sign me, but honestly, I just really wasn't interested in it then. I've known since I was two years old that I wanted to be a singer, but I was 10 years old - what really would I be singing about?" she said.


"I was already writing songs, but they were like the songs that I heard on the radio, which were too old for my age. It wouldn't have worked out. I just wanted to get some sort of life experience. Now, I've done high school. I've been normal. And I'm over it," she revealed in 2009.

Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Olivia Olson in Love Actually
Sam's crush Joanna says goodbye to him at the airport. Photo: YouTube

Since leaving school, Olivia, 30, has carved a career as a voice artist, voicing characters in cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls, Phineus and Ferb and Adventure Time.

She has also released released her own music including her first studio album in 2018. She appeared on The X Factor in 2019 too, but was evicted early on in the live shows.

Olivia Olson
It's unsurprising that voice actor Olivia Olson is also a musician. Photo: Instagram/@oliviaroseolson

Like Thomas, Olivia is sometimes surprised at the recognition she gets from a movie almost 20 years old.

"I can't believe people still care, that they're still talking about [the movie] it's so awesome," she said.

Daisy played by Lulu Popplewell

Another much loved performance came from a young Lulu Popplewell, who played Karen's daughter Daisy.

Lulu Popplewell in Love Actually
Lulu Popplewell played Daisy, the daughter of Emma Watson's character, in the film. Photo: YouTube

In a classic scene from the film, her character tells her mum she was playing the first lobster in the nativity play. When her mum asked if "There was more than one lobster at the birth of Jesus?", Lulu's character responded with an incredibly sassy "duh" to great comic effect.

Even though millions around the world loved the Christmas flick when it first came out, Lulu said she wasn't allowed to watch it because she was too young.

"I wasn't even allowed to watch it when it came out because it was a 15 – there's nipples and everything."

Emma Thompson and Lulu Popplewell in Love Actually
Daisy was best known for playing the first lobster in the nativity play. Photo: YouTube

Lulu, 31, is now a stand-up comedian and was a finalist in the Leicester Square New Comedian Of the Year Award and the Chortle Student Comedy Award in 2018.

However she isn't quite as fond of her first feature film as the other two child stars.

Lulu Popplewell
Lulu Popplewell is now a comedian in the UK. Photo: Instagram/@lulubirdpopplewell

"Softly be it spoken I think it's a s**t film," Lulu told the Almost Famous podcast in 2020. "I think it's aged badly. All the women in it are sort of passive objects. I think that there was an article describing them as passive objects to be acquired.

"On re-watching it's not great. You also have to remember that he (Curtis) was writing in the context of the time. I mean, I don't know how he excuses more recent work, but it was in 2003. It is also not for me because I don't like cheese. [But] I'm glad people like it."

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