Ken McKay/ FOX
What is it with British brunettes with thick regional accents heading for Hollywood at the first sniff of success in good old Blighty? Just because Martine McCutcheon’s loyal British fanbase loved her Eliza Doolitle in that stage production of My Fair Lady didn’t mean she’ll be gracing the Hollywood Hall of Fame any time soon. A string of girl band hits in the UK and a romance with will.i.am didn’t translate to Trans-Atlantic success for Girls Aloud’s Cheryl Cole.
Wannabe international superstars: watch and learn from the mistakes of these three brunette Brits abroad…
She won our hearts in Eastenders, leaped from TV soap to promising pop career to silver screen (alongside a bumbling Hugh Grant in Love, Actually). She followed the hype across the pond, even winning an MTV gong for Best Trans-Atlantic Breakthrough in 2004.
But a great dentist and a grapefruit diet weren’t enough to launch her Hollywood career. This year she’s plugging an afternoon slot on humble UK radio – shortly after declaring bankruptcy.
In 2011, singer Cole left the UK version of The X Factor in a blaze of glory to be a judge on the US show panel. However, Cole was sacked from the show about two minutes after landing at LAX, replaced by the Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger. Rumor has it that Fox execs didn't think Americans could understand her thick Newcastle accent.
Lloyd finished fourth in the UK X Factor, but was snapped up by Simon Cowell’s Syco label as a decent consolation prize. She didn’t take her time heading straight to the US in search of the Big Time. However, after platinum love for her early pop-rap singles, her Stateside reception has cooled to lukewarm. In August 2013, it was announced that her new single is called "I Wish," as in, "I wish America would just go ahead and love me back!"
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As Love Actually begins we are told that perhaps the world isn't such a dire and hateful place that "love actually is all around." Around London anyway. The film explores no less than seven different romantic scenarios within the bustling British capital--all of which interconnect and eventually resolve on Christmas Eve. There's the newly elected dashing Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who is smitten with his secretary the earthy Natalie (Martine McCutcheon); Karen (Emma Thompson) whose husband Harry (Alan Rickman) has strayed with his seductive secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch); Sarah (Laura Linney) the American wallflower who has a crush on her colleague Carl (Rodrigo Santoro); Jamie (Colin Firth) who falls for his pretty Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz)…there are lots more but you get the gist. As love goes things may not get tied up neatly in brightly colored packages for everyone but there's still enough good cheer to spread around.
Showcasing some of Britain's finest actors Love Actually doesn't have a bad banana in the bunch. Floppy-haired Hugh Grant turns in an endearing performance and proves there isn't a romantic comedy he can't handle. He has an uncanny knack for connecting with any actress he happens to be romancing; in this case it's the adorable McCutcheon best known for the hit British TV drama EastEnders. Rickman and Thompson are quite good as the couple whose long-term marriage is beginning to crack; Thompson especially does a nice job trying to hide her pain while being a happy mom. Linney too shines as Sarah who glows with excitement when she finally gets what she so ardently wished for. Veteran stage and film actor Bill Nighy (Underworld) however steals the show as a carefree aging rock star desperate for a comeback. His Billy Mack smacks of Mick Jagger Keith Richards and Rod Stewart all rolled into one.
"I'm worried that we don't have the word 'massacre' in the title " writer/director Richard Curtis fretted to Entertainment Weekly referring to how horror-loving American audiences might not take to his new romantic comedy that is already a huge hit in Britain. True perhaps a romantic comedy starring a multitude of A-list British actors might not bring in the required masses. But who cares about the money (did I just say that)? Curtis who has written some of the best romantic comedies of the last decade including Four Weddings and a Funeral Notting Hill and Bridget Jones' Diary steps behind the camera for the first time here and is able to give each story a unique point of view from the lovesick to the wacky. There actually may be too many stories in Love Actually but it's a small gaffe. Love Actually is a refreshing good old fashioned warm and gushy movie that takes your mind off the bad things for the holiday season and Curtis should feel confident about his directing debut.