During the birthday dinner scene, Anna Scott is asked how much she made on her last film, and her reply is $15 million. This is the amount she (Julia Roberts) was paid for her role in Notting Hill (1999).
The long shot where William Thacker walks through Notting Hill during summer, fall, winter, and spring was actually four different shots, all filmed the same day. Computer technology morphed Hugh Grant seamlessly from one shot to the next.
The rooftop scene in which William and Anna practice her lines for the submarine movie was shortened and edited to remove some swearing from Anna that would have precluded a PG 13 rating. The extended scene is on the DVD.
The park bench used in this film now 'lives' in Queens Gardens in East Perth, Western Australia. A local Perth resident anonymously donated the bench to the City of Perth and it now *really does* live in a beautiful garden that is locked at night.
The house with the blue door used in the movie was sold the year following the release of the movie. The original blue door was removed and auctioned. The replacement door was painted black so that no one would recognize it. Soon however, someone later spray painted on the wall next to the door, "This is the Hollywood door." A different house was used when Thacker and Anna are practicing her lines on the roof.
Thacker's bookshop was actually an antiques shop in real life, next to a butcher. One or two doors down from the butchers is an office for Richard Curtis's production company. Shortly after becoming a superstar, singer Adele bought the flat directly above the 'bookshop' but only lived there for a short time before moving back to live with her mother Penny.
Julia 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". Roberts said that after reading the script she decided she was "going to have to do this".
The real Travel Bookshop had a sign in its window saying "We're almost famous." It would sell non-travel books when it fitted in with a theme. For example, selling Martin Amis's "London Fields" when doing a Notting Hill theme.
Omid Djalili plays the Cashier at the Coffee Shop (uncredited) - he was filming The Mummy (1999) at the same time at the same studios so was conscripted to fill in the part, very conveniently. (Blink and you could miss him serving Hugh Grant the orange juice that he soon spills on Julia Roberts.)
Julia Roberts took issue with paraphrasing Rita Hayworth's famous line, "They go to bed with Gilda, they wake up with me." "I hate to say anything negative about what Richard wrote, because he's a genius, but I hated saying that line," Roberts said. "To me, it was nails on a chalkboard. I don't really believe any of that."
The casting of Hugh Bonneville, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, Emma Chambers, and Rhys Ifans as Will's friends was "rather like assembling a family". Roger 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."
The blue door was auctioned at Christie's Film and Entertainment sale in London. Soon after, graffiti appeared on a wall close by saying something along the lines of "R.I.P. blue door" next to the new door. The original blue door is now on a property in Hope Cove, Devon.
When Bernie, unaware of Anna's level of fame, asks her how much she made in her last movie, Julia Roberts ad libbed the number. Initially in the script and during rehearsals, she said $10 million. In future takes, she changed it to $12 million. In the third take of her close-up, she said $15 million. Hugh Bonneville later asked Roberts why she kept changing the figure. She replied, "I'm kind of tired of low-balling!'
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".
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 Duncan 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 US$500,000 and US$1 million."
The location manager Sue Quinn, described finding locations and getting permission to film as "a mammoth task". 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.
According to Richard Curtis, while going through candidates to play Julia Roberts' husband, she pointed out that they were all twenty years her senior. This made him feel ashamed, as the reverse could never be true.
Despite Thacker's protestations, it seems that his store does *not* just sell travel books. On the shelf in the background (visible clearly in a later scene where he is receiving the gift from Anna), there is a copy of Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels by Roger Sabin. (It's a big orange hardcover.)
The decision to cast Hugh Grant was unanimous, as he and Richard Curtis had a "writer/actor marriage made in heaven". Roger 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".
Richard 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". This left the producers to film in a heavily populated area. Duncan 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.
One of the final scenes takes place at a film premiere, which presented difficulties. Roger 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.
The film features the book Istanbul: The Imperial City (1996) by John Freely. William recommends this book to Anna, commenting the author has at least been to Istanbul. In reality, Freely teaches at Bogazici University in Istanbul, and is the author of nine books about the city.
Hugh Grant was critical about kissing Julia Roberts because of her large mouth. He said she had "such a large mouth" and "was aware of a faint echo as I was kissing her." Roberts has since forgiven Grant for the comments, and has said she is willing to work with him again.
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".
Richard Curtis previously dated Anne Jenkin, before her marriage to Bernard Jenkin MP. He routinely includes references to a horrible person "Bernard" in his scripts. In this movie, William introduces himself as Bernard to Jeff King when he realises he almost helped Anna cheat on him.
Humorously enough, "Rufus the Thief," who attempts to steal a book from William's book shop early in the movie, is played by Dylan Moran, who shortly thereafter starred in Black Books (2000) - a comedy series centered on a book shop.
Roger 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 personnel 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.
While they are racing to get to The Savoy, after Spike stops traffic, Honey is seen waving out of the driver side back window and when they get to The Savoy William jumps out of the car from the same seat she would have been sitting in.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
As he explains in the published screenplay, in Richard Curtis's original conception of the story, Honey (Emma Chambers) was a worker in the record store across from his bookshop and Anna's romantic rival for his affections. The film would have ended with William choosing her over the fantasy that Anna represented. Curtis decided that he could not just dismiss Anna, however, and so he made Honey into William's sister instead.
The Henry James movie in which Anna stars is based on James' novella "The Siege of London", as indicated in the paper Max tosses to William in Tony's now defunct restaurant. Anna plays Mrs. Headway, much married and divorced, bold and outspoken, from the "Wild West" in America.