Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Love Actually child stars look SO different now

From Thomas Brodie-Sangster to Olivia Olson, they're all so grown up!

love actually
Eve Crosbie
TV & Film Writer
Updated: November 14, 2023
Share this:

Love Actually is one of the most beloved rom-coms of all time, and for good reason! The 2003 festive flick tells ten interlinked tales of yuletide romance and boasts an incredible cast, including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, the late, great Alan Rickmanand of course, Martine McCutcheon.

The film also introduced viewers to a generation of new stars who stole the show whenever they popped up on screen. While some of them are still acting, some have ditched the limelight altogether - and one isn't as big a fan of the festive flick as you'd expect. To celebrate the film's 20th anniversary, we've taken a look at what the kids are up to now.

WATCH: The iconic Love Actually 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' scene
sam love actually© Photo: Rex

Then: Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster made his big-screen debut in the 2003 film playing Sam, the stepson of Liam Neeson's character who finds himself suffering from "the total agony of being in love" while also mourning the death of his mum. Just 13 at the time, the young London-born actor stole the hearts of viewers all over the world with his precocious performance.

Reflecting on the experience of starring in the holiday movie, he told Mr Porter in 2021: "I don't think Love Actually is going to go anywhere. I think I'll forever be known as the cute little kid from Love Actually. I don't mind that, that's fine."

thomas brodie sangster

Now: Thomas Brodie-Sangster

While we will always think of Thomas as Sam, the actor is all grown up now and has enjoyed an incredible career over the last 18 years.

 After appearing in Love Actually, he worked alongside Emma Thompson and Colin Firth again in the film Nanny McPhee. Following that, his career really kicked off, and he scored roles in blockbuster films Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Maze Runner, as well as fantasy series Game of Thrones. More recently, viewers will have seen him appearing in the Netflix drama The Queens Gambit. He has also portrayed legendary impresario Malcolm McLaren in Danny Boyle's Sex Pistols biopic series, Pistol.   

The actor is also happily engaged to Talulah Riley.

olivia olson then© Photo: Rex

Then: Olivia Olson

American actress Olivia Olson starred as the object of Sam's affections, Joanna, who blew us all away with her incredible take on Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You. In fact, the then 11-year-old actress's singing was so good that director Richard Curtis even asked her to tone it down as he thought audiences would not believe that she could sing that well and think she was lip-synching. "They just pretty much told me to sing it more straight, not do as many runs and trills," she confessed to Entertainment Weekly in 2009.

olivia olson now© Photo: Getty Images

Now: Olivia Olson

These days, the 31-year-old is still using her incredible voice in both her acting and music career. Not only has Olivia released her own solo album, titled Nowhere Land, but she is also the voice of some of our favourite animated TV characters! She reunited with her on-screen beau Thomas Brodie-Sangster as the voice of Vanessa Doofenshmirtz on Phineas and Ferb from 2008 until the show's end in 2015. Her other voice work includes Marceline the Vampire Queen on Adventure Time and Bliss on The Powerpuff Girls.

lulu popplewell then© Photo: Rex

Then: Lulu Popplewell

Playing Daisy, the daughter of Karen (Emma Thompson) and Harry (Alan Rickman), and perhaps more importantly, the first lobster present at the birth of Jesus was young star, Lulu Popplewell.

lulu popplewell now© Photo: Instagram

Now: Lulu Popplewell

We should've known from her brilliant comedic timing that Lulu Popplewell would pursue a career in comedy! Today, the 32-year-old is working as a stand-up comedian. However, Lulu has admitted she isn't as big a fan of the film as you'd expect. Speaking on the Almost Famous podcast, she said that while she didn't regret being in the Christmas flick, it "isn't for her" as she "doesn't like cheese". Each to their own!

READ: Richard Curtis on how Love Actually makes him feel 'a bit stupid'

MORE: This Love Actually revelation about Juliet and Sam will blow your mind

billy campbell then© Photo: Rex

Then: Billy Campbell

He may not have had the biggest role in Love Actually, but no one could forget Billy Campbell, aka the Octopus Boy, who finds himself awkwardly sat between Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon on the ride to the Christmas pageant. 

billy campbell now 2© Photo: Twitter

Now: Billy Campbell

While Love Actually remains Billy's first and only acting role, thanks to his godmother, actor Kathy Burke, we've seen a recent snap of him. "Want to feel old? "Here's what octopus boy aka my godson, Bill looks like now," she tweeted back in 2018, sending the internet into complete meltdown. "Yeah, I feel old. Cheers for that," one fan tweeted in reply while another said he looks just like singer Harry Styles. There's no news on what Billy is up to now, so it's safe to assume that he's pursued a career away from the limelight. 

jake curtis then 2© Photo: Rex

Then: Jake Curtis

Director Richard Curtis and his wife Emma Freud, who worked as the film's script editor, revealed a few years ago that the adorable kid who appears in the nativity play with Spiderman face paint is none other than their own son, Jake! 

jake curtis now2© Photo: Twitter

Now: Jake Curtis

Not much is known about what Jake is up to now, but back in 2016, he made headlines when he was romantically linked to supermodel Kate Moss. Following that, he's kept a bit of a low profile.

scarlett curtis then© Photo: Rex

Then: Scarlett Curtis

Richard and Emma's other youngster, Scarlett, also got in on the action and made a brief appearance as the second lobster in the nativity scene! 

Scarlett Curtis© Nils Jorgensen/Shutterstock

Now: Scarlett Curtis

Scarlett Curtis has become something of a star in her own right over the last few years. The 28-year-old, who boasts over 92,000 Instagram followers, is an activist and the author behind the best-selling essay collection Feminists Don't Wear Pink & Other Lies. She previously took to social media to share some interesting behind-the-scenes trivia from the film. Posting a snap of her with first lobster Lulu Popplewell on Christmas Eve 2020, she wrote: "Merry Christmas from your local second lobster. Fun story: I was offered the part of angel, Mary or lobster... my answer was, 'Well obviously lobster!'. Fun story two: the girls inside the whale got so hot that one of them fainted and they had to bring an electric fan inside the whale with them."

More TV and Film

See more