“Notting Hill” may have be one of Britain’s highest-grossing films — but Roger Michell was terrified it would be a flop. Michell’s first film, a 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Persuasion,” caught the eye of screenwriter Richard Curtis, who scored commercial success with “Four Weddings and a Funeral” the year before, per BBC. After Michell won a BAFTA for “Persuasion,” Curtis asked whether he would want to direct his next screenplay … about a little London bookseller who falls in love with a movie star. Michell said yes but was concerned it’d be a “failed second album” compared with Curtis’ previous film.
“Whilst making it I realised it had to be pretty successful or it would be a failure, as the previous film, ‘Four Weddings,’ had been such a huge success if we didn’t do better than that it would be like a failed second album,” Michell told Zavvi. While it took some time for Michell and Curtis to settle on their male lead, they ended up choosing Hugh Grant following “Four Weddings.” Julia Roberts, on the other hand, was their “only choice” to play the glamorous Anna Scott. Roberts posted a tribute to Michell on Instagram and wrote: “I loved every minute we spent together. RIP Roger Michell.” Per the New York Times, “Notting Hill” ended up grossing “$262 million worldwide” — $6 million more than “Four Weddings” had.
“I am surprised and delighted 20 years on people are still talking about it and celebrating it,” Michell told Zavvi.