Love Actually writer Richard Curtis says he'll never make ‘fat jokes’ in films again as he was 'stupid and wrong'

16 October 2023, 12:50 | Updated: 16 October 2023, 12:57

The filmmaker has said he wishes he had been 'ahead of the curve'.
The filmmaker has said he wishes he had been 'ahead of the curve'. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Richard Curtis has promised to stay way from 'fat jokes' in future works after admitting the humour used in his previous films isn’t “any longer funny”.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Filmmaker Richard Curtis, 66, who shot to fame in 1994 with his breakthrough success Four Weddings and a Funeral, followed by other hits Love Actually, Notting Hill and Blackadder, has opened up about how his works have aged.

Speaking at Cheltenham Literature Festival, Curtis was quizzed by his daughter Scarlett, 28, and admitted to having a change in perspective about his previous works.

“I remember how shocked I was five years ago when Scarlett said to me, ‘You can never use the word fat again’,” he said.

“And, wow, you were right. In my generation, calling someone ‘chubby’ ... in Love Actually, there are endless jokes about that. I think I was behind the curve and those jokes aren’t any longer funny.

“I don’t feel I was malicious at the time but I feel I was unobservant and not as clever as I should have been.”

It comes as Curtis has faced some backlash over his films in recent years from those viewing through a younger lens, calling out the use of 'fat jokes'.

Comments made about Martine McCutcheon’s character in 2003 hit Love Actually, who played Natalie, drew criticism in particular.

Martine McCutcheon (right) played Natalie.
Martine McCutcheon (right) played Natalie. Picture: Alamy

Scarlett gently pressed her father on his past work, as she said: “As your daughter, I can confirm that you’re a wonderful man, and I like to think I’ve taught you a lot about feminism."

Read more: 'Will's getting old and needs someone to look after him': Jada Pinkett Smith says she will live with Will Smith again

Read more: Sir Michael Caine retires from acting at 90 after storied career including The Italian Job and The Dark Knight

But she didn't shy away from addressing his critics' concerns head-on, as she added: “So this is by no means the moment I cancel my dad live on stage. But in the last few years, there has been a growing criticism from a lot of people about the ways your film in particular treated women of colour.

“Just to name a few of my faves: ‘tree trunk thighs’; Bridget [Jones] being overweight when she’s just a very skinny white woman; multiple counts of inappropriate male behaviour in Love Actually including the actual prime minister; a general feeling that women are visions of unattainable loveliness; and the noticeable lack of people of colour in a film called Notting Hill, which was quite literally one of the birthplaces of the British black civil rights movement.

“Looking back, are there things you wish you’d done differently?”

Bridget Jones's Diary is among Curtis' work that has been criticised.
Bridget Jones's Diary is among Curtis' work that has been criticised. Picture: Alamy

He responded: “Yes, I wish I’d been ahead of the curve.

Curtis, who attended Harrow school and Oxford University, continued: “Because I came from a very undiverse school and bunch of university friends, I think that I’ve hung on, on the diversity issue, to the feeling that I wouldn’t know how to write those parts. I think I was just sort of stupid and wrong about that.”

“I just don’t know. I feel as though me, my casting director, my producers, just didn’t think about it, just didn’t look outwards enough.”

Despite being the butt of weight jokes in Love Actually, McCutcheon said of Curtis’ film: “There’s a lot of things that happen in it that aren’t PC, that aren’t perfect. But they are real human emotions, and human beings aren’t always perfect.

“There’s something about Natalie’s vulnerability. She didn’t realise that it was actually her boyfriend who was the idiot and there was nothing wrong with her at all.”

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Rishi Sunak speaks exclusively to LBC

Rishi Sunak vows to serve as a backbencher for five years if Tories loses the election

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, billionaire co-owner of Manchester United, and Phones4U tycoon John Caudwell

'They can probably afford Labour's tax rises': Sunak brushes off billionaires abandoning Tories

Rishi Sunak says Brits 'don't have to worry' about Tories cutting disability benefits if he wins election

Rishi Sunak says Brits 'don't have to worry' about Tories cutting disability benefits if he wins election

Rishi Sunak has said he is “excited” for his daughters to do national service

Sunak reveals his daughters are 'excited' to do National Service - certainly more than 'learning maths until 18'

Rishi Sunak said Frank Hester had "made a mistake and honestly apologised"

'He's learned from it': Rishi Sunak explains why he is refusing to hand back £15m Frank Hester donations

Rishi Sunak

Sunak insists 'the only poll that matters is July 4' as he defends dire polling for Tories ahead of election

Brits would prefer to have Keir Starmer as their GP over Rishi Sunak, a poll has found.

Dr Starmer will see you now! Polling shows sixty per cent of people would pick Keir ahead of Rishi as their GP

Inflation has fallen to its lowest level in three years

UK inflation rate falls to lowest level in three years hitting Bank of England target

Rishi Sunak on LBC.

General Election LIVE: Sunak says daughters 'excited' for national service, only poll that matters is July 4

Boris Johnson will not return to the campaign trail

Boris Johnson will ‘no longer return to the campaign trail’ as former PM heads on summer holiday

UK cancer care is lagging behind the rest of Europe, a new study has found

UK cancer care ‘stuck in the noughties’ as new study shows European countries such as Sweden are ‘20 years ahead’

Rishi Sunak is following Sir Keir Starmer in taking questions from LBC listeners this morning

Starmer refuses to rule out council tax hike and reveals hopes for new Brexit deal - now it's your turn to quiz Sunak

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer take your calls on LBC

Rishi Sunak follows Keir Starmer in taking listeners' calls as part of Global's biggest ever Election coverage

Justin Timberlake's mugshot has been released

Justin Timberlake mugshot released after singer arrested for 'driving while intoxicated' in wealthy Hamptons enclave

Former Conservative Party donor John Caudwell has said he is backing Labour to win the General Election.

Former Tory donor John Caudwell backs Labour in General Election

Sir Ian McKellen was taken to hospital after he fell from the stage during a West End performance

Sir Ian McKellen 'looking forward to returning to work' as he thanks NHS staff for help after falling off West End stage