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Bizarre 'Love Actually' Deleted Scene Changes Character Backstory

No one would have imagined Sam as a gymnast.

Midshot of a young boy sitting on a couch holding up one finger
Thomas Brodie-Sangster's character Sam had a completely different identity.
Universal Pictures/YouTube screenshot

One of the most beloved Christmas flicks to tumble out of the stocking each year could have looked very different. 2003's Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis, has a deleted scene that does the rounds annually, revealing a wild backstory for one of the main characters.

In the scene, Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), the young boy who's fallen in love with American classmate Joanna (Olivia Olson), races through the airport to tell her how he feels before she returns to the US. In the deleted version of this scene, Sam is shown to be a trained gymnast, who flips through a security gate, cartwheels over luggage and swings down from a second-level walkway like he's doing an uneven bars routine at the Olympics.

Yes, this is real.

"In the original drafts for the movie, there were lots of mentions about the fact that Sam, the little boy, was a brilliant gymnast," Curtis said of the deleted scene, "and you casually saw him when he was very sad being brilliant at a gym, sort of doing double twists and turns and not getting any joy out of it at all."

"When it came to the airport and he had to rush through the airport, he brought his gymnastic prowess into play, and this is a very rough of how he would have been," Curtis said.

"In the film, there's a little boy [Thomas]. His dad, Liam Neeson, and he are talking and there's a throwaway line which is, 'I'm off to gym club, Dad,' and in the boy's bedroom on the wall, there's gymnastics pictures," stunt coordinator Lee Sheward told Metro in 2020.

Sheward said the production had to construct a whole airport terminal in Shepperton Studios and fitted isometric bars into the roof structure. Then stunt performers acted out the jumping, vaulting and tumbling.

But the sequence didn't fit in the finished film.

"Although he did apologize to me when I saw him next, Richard Curtis dropped it from the final cut because he said it didn't really feel like that sort of movie," Sheward said. "So all the expense, cost of building and shooting it all isn't in the film!"

Based on these reactions, Curtis made the right decision.

"The body double is so blatantly a full grown adult," one Twitter user wrote.

"I always switch from running to cartwheels when I need a burst of speed," wrote another.

"I'm torn between absolutely believing this is real and not believing this could possibly be real," another user wrote.