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The unbelievable story of how Martine McCutcheon landed Love Actually role

The actress didn't have a standard audition...

love actually martin
Eve Crosbie
Eve CrosbieTV & Film Writer
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Martine McCutcheon won over hearts as the potty-mouthed Natalie in Christmas classic Love Actually. And it turns out, there's an incredible story of how she landed her role in the star-studded film!

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Discussing secrets from the set for Comic Relief's Love Actually Christmas Quiz, director and writer Richard Curtis revealed that he always had the actress in mind to play Hugh Grant's love interest and the character was even originally named Martine in the script.

"When I was writing the film, I was absolutely determined that Martine was going to play the woman that Hugh Grant fell in love with," he said. "And it was only when we were about to have the read-through, which is actually sort of going to be her audition, that I suddenly realised I had called the character Martine."

WATCH: Martine recalls Richard Curtis telling her he had written the role for her

The director admitted that he chose to change the character's name ahead of sending Martine the script so she wouldn't realise he had written the part just for her.

"Literally the day before, [we] changed everything to Natalie, and then hoped it would be okay, because we didn't want Martine to see the part was for her and then do so badly and be sad for the rest of her life. But she was absolutely perfect at the read-through, as we expected," he explained.

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The director finally revealed the secret ahead of Martine and Hugh's first scene together to calm the actress' nerves.

Martine recalled: "I remember calling him and saying, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to hold my own for this first rehearsal today. I can do theatre and TV, but movies with these huge stars and Oscar winners, and the heartthrob of all time, Hugh Grant – will I be able to hold my own?

love actually martine hugh emma

Martine says she was nervous acting opposite Hugh Grant

"He told me, 'Oh shut up, we wrote the part for you, and Hugh can't wait to meet you, and wanted you to be a part of it all along.'"

Before taking on the role in the 2004 film, McCutcheon was best known for playing Tiffany Mitchell in Eastenders and admitted in the clip that she felt "imposter syndrome" being around the likes of Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman on the film set.

"I spent most of my life with imposter syndrome thinking I was going to be kicked out of anywhere fabulous,” she said.

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