Welcome to Movie Monday, when I feature the sets from our favorite films. I hadn’t seen Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in years–not since it came out in 1999–but who could forget the narrow, three-story house behind the blue door? I couldn’t! So I thought it would be fun to go back and take another look.
Did you know that the famous blue door was the entrance to the real-life home of Notting Hill’s writer and producer Richard Curtis? The interiors were filmed on a soundstage, however, because Curtis’s place was much larger and nicer inside than William Thacker’s was supposed to be. (UPDATE: The real home is now for sale. You can see the photos here.)
Richard Curtis also wrote romantic comedies like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Four Weddings and a Funeral, among others.
Curtis said, “The worst moment of my life was when I watched Notting Hill and thought: ‘Oh, God, it’s exactly the same as Four Weddings and a Funeral.’ I’d been working on it for four years and it never occurred to me…”
The exteriors were filmed mostly on location in Notting Hill and Portobello Road.
When you step inside the blue door, this is what you see (that’s a life-size cardboard cutout of a geisha on the left):
The production designer was Stuart Craig, who is also known for his work on the Harry Potter films. He did an excellent job of making this place look real and lived in.
Looking from the kitchen down to the front door:
Hugh Grant plays William Thacker, the owner of a travel bookshop who unexpectedly meets Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), a famous movie star, when she visits his store one day.
After spilling orange juice all over her, he offers her the use of his bathroom to clean up. He frantically tries to pick up some of the mess while she changes:
Anna (Julia Roberts) goes upstairs to change:
Curtis explained the inspiration for the story:
“I would sometimes wonder what it would be like if I just turned up at my friends’ house, where I used to have dinner once a week, with the most famous person at that time, be it Madonna or whomever. It all sprang from there. How would my friends react? Who would try and be cool? How would you get through dinner? What would they say to you afterwards?”
This shot of William’s quirky flatmate Spike just makes me laugh:
William and Anna on the rooftop terrace:
Remember the Chagall painting? (On the wall, below.) Later in the movie, Anna gives William the original. The producers had a reproduction made for use in the film, but they had to get permission from the painting’s owners, as well as clearance from the British Design and Artists Copyright Society. They also had to agree to destroy it afterwards because of concerns that the fake might be too convincing.
According to Wikipedia, the real canvas could be worth between $500,000 and $1 million. So, yeah, that was quite a gift she gave him!
Julia stays in William’s bedroom at the top of the stairs, on the third floor, while she’s hiding out from the paparazzi:
Bringing William breakfast in bed:
The paparazzi descends on William’s flat, and Spike (Rhys Ifans) poses for them in his underwear:
William’s “Travel Book Co.”
Anna walks into the store for the first time:
His office in the store:
Watching Anna leave the store:
Max & Bella’s House on Portobello Road
William takes Anna to his sister’s birthday party, hosted by his friends Max and Bella.
Love their cozy dining room:
As soon as William and Anna are gone, William’s friends shriek. They can’t believe they just had dinner with a famous film star.
Leaving Max and Bella’s house:
I have to admit, I always get teary at the final scene in the movie, when William and Anna are sitting on the park bench together, and the camera pans around to show that she’s pregnant:
Here’s how the blue door looked when the movie was made:
It was auctioned off after the movie for charity. Here’s how it looks now, with the new black door (photo via Girls Guide to London, where you can find more information about the area):
Notting Hill became the highest grossing British film that had been released up to that point. Before the movie, the area’s real estate was fairly affordable. Thanks to the movie’s success, housing prices shot up. Richard Curtis himself, the owner of the blue door, took advantage of the film’s publicity to sell his home afterwards for a hefty profit.