Love Actually Fans Are Shocked By Real-Life Age Difference Between Keira Knightley And Thomas Brodie-Sangster

‘Tis the season to get deeply invested in random facts about some of our favorite holiday movies. This year, so far, the Internet has been astounded about a Home Alone plot point explaining how the family forgot Kevin, debated whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, and engaged in the time-honored tradition of throwing out wild age-related Love Actually stats. 

It’s a particular fact about Keira Knightley and Thomas Brodie-Sangster that’s making the rounds again this week, but I honestly think there's a second wrinkle to this shocking stat that people aren't really talking about enough. Let's discuss.

The Love Actually Stat About Keira Knightley And Thomas Brodie-Sangster People Just Cannot Get Over

Here’s the gist: For the last several years, around the holidays fans have been reminding those who revisit Love Actually that there is in fact only a five-year difference in age between Thomas Brodie-Sangster (who was 13 when the movie filmed) and Keira Knightley (who was only 18 at the time). The viral tweets are often surprising to people, as Brodie-Sangster’s character is dealing with a middle school crush while Knightley’s character is married and dealing with some attention from her husband’s pal in the film. 

The stat first rolled around thanks to this viral tweet, but every year it's surprising to a whole new slew of people. 

In the time since, fans are continually doing the mental math for the 2003 Christmas movie and, as one Twitter user put it, it’s “breaking [their] brain.” Another Twitter user also noted “Just learned that Keira Knightley was only 18 when they filmed Love Actually. This is the most shocking revelation since finding out Thomas Brodie-Sangster was 15 in Nanny McPhee.”

Granted, while Brodie-Sangster looked young for much of his childhood career, and while these fan reactions are amusing, it is startling to think the two were only a few years apart when the movie filmed. However, if you've followed interviews about the iconic holiday film regularly, perhaps the Pirates of the Caribbean star's age shouldn't come as such a shock. In fact, Knightley has been open about still being a teenager while starring in Love Actually. She's said in the past she wore a hat in one awkward scene to try and hide an acne outbreak she was dealing with on her forehead. 

She was actually closer in age filming Love Actually to Thomas Brodie-Sangster than she was to Chiwetel Ejiofer, who played her husband in the film and Andrew Lincoln, who was even older and pining for her in the film. Which brings me to my next point. 

Maybe We Should Be Talking About The Age Gap Between Keira Knightley And Andrew Lincoln

We're sitting here discussing how Thomas Brodie-Sangster looked super young filming Love Actually while Keira Knightley (presumably) played up in age, but can we talk about how Chiwetel Ejiofer was 26 when the movie filmed and The Walking Dead vet Andrew Lincoln was already 30? There was actually a bigger gap between Knightley and Ejiofer (8 years) and Knightley and Lincoln (12 years) than there was between her and the younger actor. 

I know it's calling acting for a reason, but the fact that Andrew Lincoln is a solid 12 years older than Knightley at the time the movie was filming adds a whole 'nother layer to their oft-roasted scene. As you may well remember, Lincoln's character Mark is kind of rude to Knightley's Juliet, but she later realizes it's because he's in love with her. Toward the end of the movie, he shows up at the house she shares with her husband and quietly drops cards revealing a message ending with, 'To me, you are perfect.'

In the time since, Andrew Lincoln has referred to himself as a "weird stalker guy" and the moment has been roasted online and even spoofed elsewhere, such as on SNL. Still, love it or hate it, 20 years later, people are still talking about this scene. With the age difference in mind, it feels even more absurd. 

Despite all of this BTS info about the casting, Love Actually remains one of the most popular Christmas movies streaming, a head scratcher Keira Knightley has said she can't figure out. Catch it on Peacock with a subscription.  

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.