The chemistry between Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral is so perfect that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing their roles. But many other actors auditioned, and a few came close to landing the parts. Now, 25 years after it became the most successful British film in history at the time, the makers are revealing the also-rans as well as other behind-the-scenes tidbits.
Seventy actors were considered for the character of Charles — a longtime bachelor who falls for an American named Carrie over the course of the movie’s titular ceremonies. The choice came down to Hugh and a better-known Brit, Alan Rickman (Die Hard). “I just thought Hugh was a bit annoying, too good-looking and a bit posh,” says screenwriter Richard Curtis, who favored Alan for the role. “I was right about all of those things, but he was also very good.”
Richard was outvoted by director Mike Newell and producer Duncan Kenworthy, and the movie made Hugh a star, but only by a hair. Producers almost made him chop off his floppy locks, until Hugh told them, “I think you should know I don’t look very good with short hair.” His coif was spared.
For the character of Carrie, Kenworthy tells Closer Weekly exclusively in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now, the impressive list of those who auditioned included Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dana Delany, Téa Leoni and Kyra Sedgwick. “But the person Mike wanted and to whom we offered the role was Jeanne Tripplehorn,” hot off Basic Instinct and The Firm.
Soon after Jeanne accepted the gig, however, her mother tragically died. As Newell tells us, “She couldn’t possibly go into a big part like that where she had to be happy all the time,” so she decided to drop out.
Enter Andie, who had just made Groundhog Day. “Her agent rang us and said, ‘She’s great at comedy, sensational-looking and available,’” recalls Newell. “And she was all of those things. We were so lucky.”
The rapport between Hugh and Andie wasn’t immediate. “She seemed like she came from a different planet,” says Hugh. “She was a proper Hollywood film star, and I was very, very scared of her.” But the charmer quickly won her over. “Hugh was just so lovely,” says Andie. “It was the time of my life.”
The first screening — in conservative Salt Lake City — didn’t go well, as offended moviegoers walked out due to the film’s profanity. But audiences worldwide embraced the movie, with its witty dialogue and rain-soaked happy ending. Says Kenworthy, “People have a strong emotional connection to it.” No doubt fans’ feelings about the film were like the Partridge Family song Hugh so memorably quoted in it: “I think I love you.”
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