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All the Kids From "Love Actually," Then and Now

It's been almost two decades since this holiday classic hit theaters.

'Tis the season for your annual viewing of Love Actually, the British ensemble holiday rom-com that's become a permanent fixture in pop culture. It's hard to believe that this wonderfully chaotic movie hit theaters 17 years ago now, but it's true. It's been 17 years since Billy Mack recorded "Christmas Is All Around," 17 years since Harry left his necklace for Mia in his coat pocket (Come on, man!), and 17 years since the Prime Minister crashed the school Christmas pageant. All of that also means that the adorable kids in Love Actually are well grown up by now, even though they're somewhat suspended in childhood, thanks to this festive classic. Some of them are still acting, some of them have pursued other careers, and at least one of them isn't a fan of the flick that made them so recognizable. Keep reading to see what the Love Actually kids look like now (and what they're up to), and for another famous Christmas movie star who's all grown up, check out This Is What the Actor Who Played Cindy Lou Who Looks Like Now.

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Then: Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Sam

Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Love Actually
Universal Pictures

The true romantic of Love Actually, Thomas Brodie-Sangster stole the show as young Sam, stepson of Daniel (Liam Neeson), who's attempting to raise him alone after the death of his wife and Sam's mom at the start of the film. Lovestruck Sam, meanwhile, sees his biggest challenge as attempting to win over his American classmate, Joanna (Olivia Olson), via one of the film's grandest gestures.

And for more holiday movie fun, check out The Best and Worst Actors Who've Played Santa Claus.

Now: Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Thomas Brodie-Sangster in The Queen's Gambit

You don't need to look far to catch up with Brodie-Sangster today. He was only in one of the most talked-about shows of 2020. Brodie-Sangster, now 30, plays Benny Watts on the Netflix chess drama The Queen's Gambit. His other most famous post-Love Actually role is that of Jojen Reed on Game of Thrones, and he's also acted in Nanny McPhee, the Maze Runner movies, and the miniseries Godless.

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Then: Olivia Olson as Joanna

Olivia Olson in Love Actually
Universal Pictures

The object of Sam's affections and the voice that surprised all of the adults at the Love Actually school Christmas pageant was Joanna, played by Olivia Olson.

Now: Olivia Olson

Olivia Olson

The 28-year-old performer is still acting and singing. Her longest-running role is that of the Marceline the Vampire Queen on the acclaimed animated series Adventure Time, which ran from 2010 to 2018. She released her second full album, Nowhere Land, in 2018, and has also written an Adventure Time comic centering on her character.

Fun Love Actually fact: Olson and Sangster both voiced characters on the animated series Phineas and Ferb, making it an unofficial Sam and Joanna reunion.

For some critically acclaimed films to watch this season, check out The Best Christmas Movie of All Time, According to Critics.

Then: Lulu Popplewell as Daisy

Lulu Popplewell in Love Actually
Universal Pictures

Lulu Popplewell played Daisy, the daughter of Karen (Emma Thompson) and Harry (Alan Rickman). She made an impression as "the lobster" in the nativity play; but not just any lobster—first lobster.

Now: Lulu Popplewell

Lulu Popplewell

Today, Popplewell, now 29, is a stand-up comedian and a musician and shares a lot of her work (and cute pet snaps) on her social media.

Earlier this year, she addressed her childhood claim to fame on the Almost Famous podcast, and while she said she didn't regret being in Love Actually, let's just say she probably wouldn't say yes to it today.

"Look, softly be it spoken I think it's a s*** film. I think it's aged badly," Popplewell said, via Insider. "All the women in it are sort of passive objects. I think that there was an article that described them as passive objects to be acquired, and on rewatching it's not great."

For another Christmas movie throwback, check out This Is What the Little Girl From "The Holiday" Looks Like Now.

Then: William Wadham as Bernie

William Wadham in Love Actually
Universal Pictures

Daisy's brother, Bernie, played by kid actor William Wadham, seemed to be dealing with some teen angst in Love Actually. He doesn't get as much play as Daisy, but that's because this hilarious scene was cut from the final film.

Now: William Wadham

William Wadham now

In real life, Wadham grew up to express himself through music. According to his official website, Wadham (who now goes by Will) fell in love with composing when he attended the University of Exeter, and now writes music for all types of live performance and media. You can listen to some of his work on his Soundcloud page.

And for the songs you're probably sick of already this season, check out The Most Hated Christmas Songs of All Time.

Then: Billy Campbell as the kid in the octopus costume

Billy Campbell in Love Actually
Universal Pictures

Credited as "Natalie's Octopus Brother," Billy Campbell played the kid who unforgettably rides to the Christmas pageant between the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) wearing an impressively unwieldy papier-mâché octopus costume. ("Eight is a lotta legs, David.")

Now: Billy Campbell

Billy Campbell, who played octopus boy in Love Actually
Kathy Burke / Twitter

The 2003 rom-com is Campbell's last acting credit, but, thanks to his godmother, actor Kathy Burke, we know what he looks like as an adult.

"Want to feel old?" she tweeted. "Here's what octopus boy aka my godson, Bill looks like now."

For the holiday movies you can go ahead and skip, check out This Is the Worst Christmas Movie of All Time, According to Critics.

Sage Young
Sage Young is the Deputy Entertainment Editor at Best Life, expanding and honing our coverage in this vertical by managing a team of industry-obsessed writers. Read more
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