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Love, Actually Writer, Director Richard Curtis Calls Genie "One of the Luckiest Breaks" of His Career

Genie also marks Richard Curtis’ first film located in New York.

By Stephanie Gomulka
Melissa McCarthy dressed up in gold tinsel to resemble a Christmas tree in a scene from the new movie GENIE

If you’re hoping for a new Christmas movie just in time for the holiday season—Richard Curtis is here to make your wish come true.

The screenwriter is known for his iconic comedies like Bean and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Curtis spoke to NBC Insider ahead of the premiere of his new fairytale comedy Genie and shared some magical details.

Richard Curtis Says Genie is “One of the Luckiest Breaks" of His Career 

Paapa Essiedu and Melissa McCarthy stand outside in a scene from the new movie GENIE

He wrote Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts and the holiday classic Love, Actually as well as About Time starring Rachel McAdams. Although that’s only a shortlist of his slew of beloved films, the Oscar-nominated writer says he loved the idea of making another “fun, Christmas movie.”

RELATED: Your Wish is Granted: Where to Watch the Holiday Comedy Genie

Genie is a reimagining of his 1991 TV Movie Bernard and the Genie.

“We came up with this idea of making the genie a woman you know and then when that woman turned out to be Melissa McCarthy that was one of the luckiest breaks of my career,” Curtis said. 

The Oscar-nominated actress (Bridesmaids, The Little Mermaid) plays Flora, a genie helping Bernard Bottle (Paapa Essiedu) reconnect with his family during the holidays with unlimited wishes resulting in some hilarious mayhem.

“It’s a movie about a man whose life is going very badly indeed,” Curtis said. “He’s lucky enough to come across a genie who is very chaotic, very unexpected, but in the end very useful.”

The movie also marks Curtis' first set in New York City. 

Did Melissa McCarthy Improvise at all in Genie?

As a writer, Curtis views the collaboration between himself and the actors and director as a deal of sorts. 

“The deal I like is that at some point they kind of do, do your lines and you know Melissa was great about that,” Curtis said. “She said yes to the script. She loved the script. She did it, but while she was making the film she would say—wait a minute I’ve got a little idea here and do something new.”

Some of his “favorite bits” of the movie were made up by McCarthy and other actors like Luis Guzmán and Marc Maron, Curtis said.

“There were lots of extra decorations hung on this tree particularly by Melissa,” Curtis said about the movie. 

What are the “Hallmarks” of a Richard Curtis Script

Melissa McCarthy dressed up in gold tinsel to resemble a Christmas tree in a scene from the new movie GENIE

How a nicer person like Bernard Bottle might try to fix their life interests Curtis more than an evil character would, he said.

"This is a movie about friendship and family and those are the two you know biggest things in my life," Curtis said. "I'm not interested in murder or you know crime or other things like that so I think I'm slightly limited to my personality, but within my personality I try to make things as different as I can, which is why this movie's got a genie in it."

RELATED: How to Stream Hallmark Holiday Movies on Peacock Right Now

The chance to collaborate with Curtis was part of the draw to working on the project from the beginning for Director Sam Boyd (Love Life).

“Generally, when you think about a movie like Bridget Jones or a movie like Notting Hill, or you think about a movie like About Time, I think one of the hallmarks of Richard’s work is kind of the lovability of the characters and that he never really is starting with the kind of irredeemable grump or whatever,” Boyd told NBC Insider.

Boyd found following a character who is a good person, but made a few mistakes to be more relatable and someone the audience could root for. 

“The thing that I love about his movies is, you know, they make you feel like everything’s okay in the world for a second,” Boyd said.

Genie is available to stream on Peacock on November 22 and available to own on Digital on November 23.

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