Four Weddings and a Funeral was one of the defining rom-coms of the 1990s. It brought Hugh Grant to the public eye, quickly making him a household name, and for years after its release, any new British comedy would inevitably be compared to this classic.
Let’s take a look back at Four Weddings and a Funeral with some facts about the film you may not have known.
10. Richard Curtis wrote the film after he went to 72 weddings in ten years
Richard Curtis broke through as a TV writer, most famously co-writing all four seasons of sitcom Blackadder, before breaking into film at the writer of 1989’s The Tall Guy. Four Weddings and a Funeral was his second movie, and it made him a major figure in the British film industry.
Curtis was inspired to write the film after realising he had attended a staggering 72 weddings over the course of a decade. At one wedding he met a woman with whom he felt a connection, but never met her again, and this inspired the Charles-Carrie romance.
9. Alan Rickman was the first choice to play Charles
These days it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone but Hugh Grant playing Four Weddings and a Funeral’s leading man Charles, but Richard Curtis actually had a very different actor in mind for the role: Alan Rickman, then best-known for his theatre work and his bad guy roles in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
However, Rickman wasn’t interested in auditioning for the role, and director Mike Newell felt that Hugh Grant was a better fit for the part. Nine years later, Rickman would indeed work with Curtis on the writer’s directorial debut, Love Actually.
8. Hugh Grant showed a video of himself as best man at his brother’s wedding in his audition
When taking part in his audition, High Grant took a video of when he was best man at his brother’s wedding which immediately impressed the film-makers – even if Richard Curtis wasn’t sold at first.
Curtis explained later, “I just thought Hugh was a bit annoying, too good-looking and a bit posh. I was right about all of those things but he was also very good.”
7. Andie MacDowell waived her fee for a percentage of the film’s profits – and made a fortune
Charles’ love interest Carrie was always going to be American, but Andie MacDowell wasn’t the first choice. Jeanne Tripplehorn and Marisa Tomei were offered the part first, but both were forced to decline due to illnesses in their family at the time.
When taking her role in the film, Andie MacDowell agreed to waive her fee, accepting a cut of the profits instead. This eventually got her $2 million compared to Hugh Grant’s $100,000!
6. Kristin Scott Thomas dubbed her character in the French version of the film herself
Four Weddings and a Funeral was actually the second collaboration between Hugh Grant and Kristin Scott-Thomas, who had not long since co-starred in 1992 film Bitter Moon.
When dubbing the French version of the film, Kristin Scott Thomas did the voice-over for her own role as she is fluent in French herself. She has since appeared in many French films, and even holds dual British and French citizenship.
5. John Hannah’s recital of Funeral Blues made it one of Britain’s most popular poems
In what was then considered a groundbreaking portrayal of a closeted gay couple, the funeral of Simon Callow’s Gareth sees John Hannah’s Matthew recite the W.H. Auden poem Funeral Blues, also known as Stop All The Clocks. Prior to this, neither the poem nor Auden himself were especially well-known among the general public.
However, thanks to Hannah’s powerful reading of the poem, Funeral Blues became one of Britain’s best-loved poems, which has been read at many funerals in the years since.
4. Hugh Grant had to learn sign language for the role
As well as earning praise for its progressive representation of gay people, Four Weddings and a Funeral has also earned plaudits for normalising deaf characters in the form of Charles’ brother David, played by deaf actor David Bower.
In order to accurately perform his scenes with Bower, Hugh Grant had to learn sign language for real.
3. It was shot on a low budget in just over a month
It may have gone on to be a huge mainstream hit, but Four Weddings and a Funeral was by no means a lavish production. They had only 36 days to shoot the movie on a budget of £2.7 million (then the equivalent of $4.4 million US).
The production was so low on money that the Scottish wedding couldn’t be filmed in Scotland, and many extras had to wear their own suits.
2. It was the first British film to reach number one in the US since 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda
Back in the early 90s, the British film industry wasn’t in great shape, but Four Weddings and a Funeral helped change things. It became the first British film to hit the top of the American box office charts since 1988’s A Fish Called Wanda.
In the end, the film earned $245.7 million at the worldwide box office. It also wound up being nominated for two Oscars, as well as four BAFTAs including Best Picture. Hugh Grant was also named Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globes.
1. It was remade as an American TV mini-series in 2019
25 years after the film hit screens, a new take on Four Weddings and a Funeral was produced for streaming service Hulu. Co-created by American comedian Mindy Kaling, the 2019 TV mini-series ran for 10 episodes, with British actress Nathalie Emmanuel taking the lead.
The series was met with a muted response, with most viewers and critics feeling it failed to do anything significantly new or different with the concept.