Notting Hill (film)

Notting Hill (film)
Notting Hill
A poster with a large picture of a woman shaded blue on it is stuck to a wall. A man walks in front of it.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roger Michell
Produced by Duncan Kenworthy
Roger Birnbaum
Written by Richard Curtis
Starring Julia Roberts
Hugh Grant
Music by Trevor Jones
Cinematography Michael Coulter
Editing by Nick Moore
Studio Working Title Films
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) 21 May 1999 (1999-05-21)
Running time 124 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $43 million
Box office $363,889,700

Notting Hill is a 1999 British romantic comedy film set in Notting Hill, London, released on 21 May 1999. The screenplay was by Richard Curtis, who had written Four Weddings and a Funeral. It was produced by Duncan Kenworthy and directed by Roger Michell. The film stars Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Rhys Ifans, Emma Chambers, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee and Hugh Bonneville.

The film was well received by critics, and became the highest grossing British film released that year. The film won a BAFTA, and was nominated in two other categories. Notting Hill won other awards, including a British Comedy Award and a Brit Award for the soundtrack.



William "Will" Thacker (Hugh Grant) owns an independent bookshop in Notting Hill that specialises in travel writing. He has been coping with divorce after his wife left him for a man who looked exactly like Harrison Ford. He shares his house with an uninhibited Welsh eccentric named Spike (Rhys Ifans).

Thacker encounters Hollywood star actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) when she enters his shop to buy a book. Minutes later, the pair collide in the street, causing Will to spill his orange juice on both of them. He offers his house across the road for Anna to change. She accepts and, having changed, surprises Will with a kiss and starts their mutual attraction.

Days later, Will asks Spike if he has any messages. Spike has trouble writing or remembering messages but does recall "some American girl called Anna" who mentioned a "completely different name". Anna is at the Ritz, under the name "Flintstone", and has asked Will to visit. Will is allowed in, but her room has now become the centre for a press day and he is mistaken for a journalist. (In panic he claims he works for Horse & Hound.) He has to interview all the cast of Anna's new film Helix, even though he has not seen it. Will's sister Honey (Emma Chambers) is about to have a birthday party, and when Will has a moment alone with Anna, she offers to be his date at the party.

There, at Max (Tim McInnerny) and Bella's (Gina McKee) house, Anna feels at home with Will's friends, putting up a good case for the "last brownie" to be awarded to the most pathetic of them. Afterwards they trespass in a private London square. They go on more dates, to the cinema and to a restaurant. Anna invites Will to her room, only to find her American boyfriend, Jeff King (an uncredited cameo by Alec Baldwin), already there. She pretends to be pleased to see him, so Will pretends to be a room-service waiter. When King steps out of the room, Anna apologizes; she thought King had broken up with her. Will realizes he must leave.

Later, after actually breaking up with King, Anna goes to Will's house hoping to stay. Images of her that look like a porn film have been leaked to the press and she needs to hide. The pair sleep together for the first time. In the morning, Will is stunned to see reporters at the doorstep, alerted by careless talk by Spike at the pub. Angry at what she views as Will's betrayal, she leaves, and he decides to forget her... unsuccessfully.

A road with some cars parked on it next to a line of houses
Much of the filming took place on Portobello Road.

One year later, Anna returns to London to make a Henry James film, which Will had suggested. Will approaches the set of the film, and Anna invites him in to watch. A sound engineer offers him a pair of headphones to listen in on the dialogue, but this allows him to overhear Anna between scenes telling her co-star that Will is "just some guy". Disappointed, Will leaves. The next day, Anna comes to the bookshop again, explaining that she was just being discreet and hoping to repair their relationship, but Will, still hurt, turns her down. Having brought him a present, she leaves it behind, still wrapped; it turns out to be an original Marc Chagall painting, La Mariée, that she had seen a print of in Will's home.

Will meets his friends, who are supportive of his decision to reject Anna until Spike arrives and promptly calls him a "daft prick". He quickly realizes he has made the biggest mistake of his life by letting her go. The group searches for Anna, racing across London in Max's car. They reach Anna's press conference and Will persuades her to stay in England with him. Anna and Will marry, the film concluding with a shot of Will and a pregnant Anna on a park bench in Notting Hill.


  • Julia Roberts as Anna Scott: A Hollywood film star. She meets Will when she comes into his book shop in Notting Hill. Roberts was the "one and only" choice for the role, although Roger Michell and Duncan Kenworthy did not expect her to accept. Her agent told her it was "the best romantic comedy she had ever read".[1] Roberts said that after reading the script she decided she was "going to have to do this".[2]
  • Hugh Grant as William "Will" Thacker: Recently divorced owner of a travel book shop in Notting Hill. The decision to cast Grant was unanimous, as he and Richard Curtis had a "writer/actor marriage made in heaven". Michell said that "Hugh does Richard better than anyone else, and Richard writes Hugh better than anyone else", and that Grant is "one of the only actors who can speak Richard's lines perfectly".[1]
  • Emma Chambers as Honey Thacker: Will's younger sister, she is a fan of Anna Scott. She later marries her brother's flatmate Spike.
  • Hugh Bonneville as Bernie: A failing stockbroker and a friend of Will. He does not recognize Anna Scott upon meeting her and, by way of small talk about the low pay in acting, asks her how much money she made on her last film.
  • Rhys Ifans as Spike: Will's strange Welsh flatmate who dreams of being an artist. He later marries Honey Thacker and becomes Will's brother-in-law. He is described by Will as "the stupidest person in the world, only doubled".
  • Tim McInnerny as Max: Will's best friend, with whom Will often stays. He and Bella host Honey's birthday party.
  • Gina McKee as Bella: A paraplegic lawyer and Will's ex-girlfriend. She is married to Max. She is described by Will as one of the two women that he has ever loved.
  • James Dreyfus as Martin: William's ineffective assistant at his bookshop.

The casting of Bonneville, McInnerny, McKee, Chambers, and Ifans as Will's friends was "rather like assembling a family". Michell explained that "When you are casting a cabal of friends, you have to cast a balance of qualities, of types and of sensibilities. They were the jigsaw that had to be put together all in one go, and I think we've got a very good variety of people who can realistically still live in the same world."[1]

Other characters
  • Richard McCabe as Tony: A failing restaurateur. The group meets at his restaurant.
  • Omid Djalili has a cameo role as the salesperson in the opening minutes of local background footage.
  • Dylan Moran as Rufus: A thief who attempts to steal from Will's bookshop. Despite being caught on CCTV concealing a book down his trousers he professes his innocence, then asks Anna if she wants his phone number.
  • Alec Baldwin makes an uncredited appearance as Anna's boyfriend, Jeff King.[3]
  • Sanjeev Bhaskar has a cameo role as a loud and offensive film critic (who refers to Meg Ryan as the actress who has an orgasm every time she's taken out for a cup of coffee) in the restaurant Anna and Will attend.[4]
  • Mischa Barton makes a brief appearance as the child actor whom Will pretends to interview for Horse & Hound.[5]
  • Emily Mortimer as "Perfect Girl," a potential love interest for Will.
  • John Shrapnel as Anna's UK press agent.


"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?"
— Richard Curtis[6]

Richard Curtis developed the film from thoughts while lying awake at night. He described the starting point as "the idea of a very normal person going out with an unbelievably famous person and how that impinges on their lives".[6] Four Weddings and a Funeral director Mike Newell was approached but rejected it to work on Pushing Tin. He said that in commercial terms he had made the wrong decision, but did not regret it.[7] The producer, Duncan Kenworthy, then turned to Roger Michell, saying that "Finding someone as good as Roger, was just like finding the right actor to play each role. Roger shone out."[1]

Curtis chose Notting Hill as he lived there and knew the area, saying "Notting Hill is a melting pot and the perfect place to set a film".[8] This left the producers to film in a heavily populated area. Kenworthy noted "Early on, we toyed with the idea of building a huge exterior set. That way we would have more control, because we were worried about having Roberts and Grant on public streets where we could get thousands of onlookers." In the end they decided to film in the streets.[8] Michell was worried "that Hugh and Julia were going to turn up on the first day of shooting on Portobello Road, and there would be gridlock and we would be surrounded by thousands of people and paparazzi photographers who would prevent us from shooting". The location team, and security forces prevented this, as well as preventing problems the presence of a film crew may have caused the residents of Notting Hill, who Michell believes were "genuinely excited" about the film.[8] The location manager Sue Quinn, described finding locations and getting permission to film as "a mammoth task".[8] Quinn and the rest of her team had to write to thousands of people in the area, promising to donate to each person's favourite charity, resulting in 200 charities receiving money.[8]

"The major problem we encountered was the size of our film unit. We couldn't just go in and shoot and come out. We were everywhere. Filming on the London streets has to be done in such a way that it comes up to health and safety standards. There is no such thing as a road closure. We were very lucky in the fact that we had 100% cooperation from the police and the Council. They looked favorably on what we were trying to do and how it would promote the area."
— Sue Quinn[8]

Stuart Craig, the production designer, was pleased to do a contemporary film, saying "we're dealing with streets with thousands of people, market traders, shop owners and residents which makes it really complex".[8] Filming began on 17 April 1998 in West London and at Shepperton Studios.[1] Will's bookshop was on Portobello Road, one of the main areas in which filming took place. Other places within Notting Hill included Westbourne Park Road, Golborne Road, Landsdowne Road and the Coronet Cinema.[8] Will's house, 280 Westbourne Park Road, was owned by Richard Curtis and behind the entrance there is a grand house, not the flat in the film that was made up in the studios. The blue door was auctioned for charity. The current door is black. After filming for six weeks in Notting Hill, filming moved to the Ritz Hotel, where work had to take place at night, the Savoy Hotel, the Nobu Restaurant, the Zen Garden of the Hempel Hotel and Kenwood House.[8] One of the final scenes takes place at a film premiere, which presented difficulties. Michell wanted to film Leicester Square but was declined. Police had found fans at a Leonardo DiCaprio premiere problematic and were concerned the same might occur at the staged premiere. Through a health and safety act, the production received permission to film and constructed the scene in 24 hours.[8] Interior scenes were the last to be filmed, at Shepperton Studios.[8] The final cut was 3.5 hours long, 90 minutes edited out for release.[9]

The film features the 1950 Marc Chagall painting La Mariée. Anna sees a print of the painting in William's home and later gives him what is presumably the original. Michell said in Entertainment Weekly that the painting was chosen because Curtis was a fan of Chagall's work and because La Mariée "depicts a yearning for something that's lost." The producers had a reproduction made for the film, but had to get permission from the owner as well as clearance from the Design and Artists Copyright Society. Finally, according to Kenworthy, "we had to agree to destroy it. They were concerned that if our fake was too good, it might float around the market and create problems." The article also noted that "some experts say the real canvas could be worth between $500,000 and $1 million."[10]


Music was composed by Trevor Jones.[11] Several additional songs written by other artists include Elvis Costello's cover of the Charles Aznavour song "She", Shania Twain's remixed version of "You've Got A Way", as well as Ronan Keating's specially recorded cover of "When You Say Nothing at All"; the song reached number one in the British charts. The song played when Will strides down Portobello Road is "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers. Tony and Max play "Blue Moon" on the piano at Tony's restaurant on the night it closes.[12] Originally, Charles Aznavour's version of "She" was used in the film, but American test screening audiences did not respond to it. Costello was then brought in by Richard Curtis to record a cover version of the song.[13] Both versions of the song appear in non-U.S. releases. The soundtrack album was released by Island Records.

Track listing
  1. "From the Heart" - Another Level
  2. "When You Say Nothing at All" - Ronan Keating
  3. "She" - Elvis Costello
  4. "She" - Charles Aznavour
  5. "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" - Al Green
  6. "In Our Lifetime" - Texas
  7. "I Do (Cherish You)" - 98 Degrees
  8. "Born to Cry" - Pulp
  9. "Ain't No Sunshine" - Lighthouse Family
  10. "You've Got a Way" - Shania Twain (Notting Hill remix)
  11. "Gimme Some Lovin'" - Spencer Davis Group
  12. "Will and Anna" - Trevor Jones (Score)
  13. "Notting Hill" - Trevor Jones (Score)
  14. "Ain't No Sunshine" - Bill Withers[14] (bonus track)


Critical reception

The film had generally positive reviews, scoring an 82% "Certified Fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[15] Variety's Derek Elley said that "It's slick, it's gawky, it's 10 minutes too long, and it's certainly not "Four Weddings and a Funeral Part 2" in either construction or overall tone", giving it an overall positive review.[3] Cranky Critic called it "Bloody damned good", as well as saying that it was "A perfect date flick."[16] Nitrate said that "Notting Hill is whimsical and light, fresh and quirky", with "endearing moments and memorable characters".[17] In his review of the film's DVD John J. Puccio noted that "the movie is a fairy tale, and writer Richard Curtis knows how much the public loves a fairy tale", calling it "a sweet film".[18] Desson Howe of the Washington Post gave the film a very positive review, particularly praising Rhys Ifans' performance as Spike.[19] James Sanford gave Notting Hill three and a half stars, saying that "Curtis' dialogue may be much snappier than his sometimes dawdling plot, but the first hour of Notting Hill is so beguiling and consistently funny it seems churlish to complain that the rest is merely good."[20] Sue Pierman of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stated that "Notting Hill is clever, funny, romantic - and oh, yes, reminiscent of Four Weddings and a Funeral", but that the film "is so satisfying, it doesn't pay to nitpick."[21] Roger Ebert praised the film, saying "the movie is bright, the dialogue has wit and intelligence, and Roberts and Grant are very easy to like."[22] Kenneth Turan gave a good review, concluding that "the film's romantic core is impervious to problems".[23] CNN reviewer Paul Clinton said that Notting Hill "stands alone as another funny and heartwarming story about love against all odds".[24]

Widgett Walls of gave the film "three and a half cups of coffee", stating that "the humor of the film saves it from a completely trite and unsatisfying (nay, shall I say enraging) ending", but criticised the soundtrack.[25] Dennis Schwartz gave the film a negative review with a grade of "C-" citing "this film was pure and unadulterated balderdash".[26] Some criticised the film for giving a "sweetened unrealistic view of London life and British eccentricity."[27]


Notting Hill was 95th on the British Film Institute's "list of the all-time top 100 films", based on estimates of each film's British cinema admissions.[4]

Box office

The film had its premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square, on 27 April 1999.[28] It earned $116,089,678 as its overall domestic gross, with a worldwide gross of $363,889,678.[29] It totaled $27.7 million over its opening weekend, an American record,[30] the biggest opening for a romantic comedy film, beating My Best Friend's Wedding.[31] Notting Hill made another $15 million the following week,[32] but then began to lose.[33] One month after its release, Notting Hill lost its record for highest grossing opening weekend for a romantic comedy film to Runaway Bride (also starring Roberts).[34] It was the sixteenth highest grossing film of 1999,[35] and as of May 2007 is the 104th highest grossing film of all time.[36] At the time, it had become the highest grossing British film.[37]

Awards and nominations

Notting Hill won the Audience Award for Most Popular Film at the BAFTAs in 2000,[38] and was nominated in the categories of The Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the year, and Best Performance by an Actor in a supporting role for Rhys Ifans.[39] The film won Best Comedy Film at the British Comedy Awards.[40] The film's soundtrack won Best Soundtrack at the Brit Awards, beating Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace.[41] The film won Best British Film, Best British Director for Roger Michell, and Best British Actor for Hugh Grant at the Empire Awards.[42] The film received three nominations at the Golden Globes, in the categories Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical, Best Motion Picture Actor - Comedy/Musical for Hugh Grant, and Best Motion Picture Actress - Comedy/Musical for Julia Roberts.[43]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "About the Production". Notting Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  2. ^ "A Romantic Comedy Dream Team". Notting Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Elley, Derek (30 April 1999). "Notting Hill". Variety. Retrieved 19 May 2007. 
  4. ^ a b "95: NOTTING HILL". British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 May 2007. 
  5. ^ Gordon, Jane (12 May 2007). "Mischa Barton: Little Miss Sunshine". The Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 19 May 2007. 
  6. ^ a b "Behind-the-Scenes". Notting Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  7. ^ Chris Parry. "The man who told Notting Hill to 'sod off'". eFilm Critic. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Notting Hill, the place, the movie location". Notting Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  9. ^ Greg Dean Schmitz. "Notting Hill (1999)". Yahoo!. Retrieved 28 May 2007. 
  10. ^ Joe Dziemianowicz; Clarissa Cruz (11 June 1999). "Flashes". Entertainment Weekly.,,273720,00.html. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  11. ^ "Notting Hill". Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  12. ^ "'When You Say Nothing at All'". BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  13. ^ Darryl Chamberlain (20 July 1999). "Elvis alive and well in Notting Hill". BBC News. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  14. ^ "Notting Hill Soundtrack".ètes/Notting+Hill. 
  15. ^ "Notting Hill (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  16. ^ "Notting Hill". Cranky Critic. Retrieved 19 May 2007. 
  17. ^ Savada, Elias (28 May 1999). "Notting Hill". Nitrate. Retrieved 19 May 2007. 
  18. ^ John J. Puccio. "Notting Hill [Ultimate Edition]". DVD Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  19. ^ Desson Howe (28 May 1999). "'Notting Hill': Easy to Love". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  20. ^ James Sanford. "Notting Hill". Kalamazoo Gazette. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  21. ^ Sue Pierman (27 May 1999). "'Notting Hill' is perfect romantic fit for Roberts, Grant". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  22. ^ Roger Ebert (28 May 1999). "Notting Hill". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  23. ^ Kenneth Turan (28 May 1999). "Notting Hill". Calendar Live. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007.,0,7251334.story. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  24. ^ Paul Clinton (27 May 1999). "Review: Julia, Hugh a perfect match for 'Notting Hill'". CNN. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  25. ^ Widgett Walls. "Notting Hill (1999)". Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  26. ^ Dennis Schwartz (29 November 2000). "Notting Hill". Ozus' World Movie Reviews. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  27. ^ Tom Brook (5 June 1999). "Money takes over the movies". BBC News. Retrieved 22 March 2008. 
  28. ^ "Notting Hill premieres in Leicester Square". BBC News. 27 April 1999. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  29. ^ "NOTTING HILL". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  30. ^ "Notting Hill has The Force". BBC News. 2 June 1999. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  31. ^ Brandon Gray (2 June 1999). "Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  32. ^ Brandon Gray (7 June 1999). "Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  33. ^ Brandon Gray (21 June 1999). "Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  34. ^ Brandon Gray (3 August 1999). "Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  35. ^ "1999 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  36. ^ "WORLDWIDE GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 
  37. ^ "Notting Hill breaks film record". BBC News. 26 August 1999. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  38. ^ "2000 British Academy of Film and Television Awards". Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  39. ^ "Bafta nominations in full". BBC News. 1 March 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  40. ^ "The Past Winners 1999". British Comedy Awards. Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  41. ^ "Brits 2000: The winners". BBC News. 3 March 2000. Retrieved 22 May 2007. 
  42. ^ "What are they doing?". British Theatre Guide. 20 February 2000. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  43. ^ "Notting Hill". Retrieved 22 May 2007. 

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