Richard Curtis, the British writer/director whose latest romantic comedy, About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina) and Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris), opens in limited engagements this Friday, told Variety that he’s hanging up his director hat for good. The filmmaker, who came to prominence as the screenwriter of hugely successful sleeper hit Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), over the years has ruled the somewhat flailing romantic comedy genre with the quintessential new school classics Notting Hill (1999), Bridget Jones‘s Diary (2001) and Love Actually (2003), the latter of which was his directorial debut.
And while Curtis has only three films on his directorial resumé (the aforementioned Love Actually, the 2009 indie Pirate Radio, and About Time), he states “That’s my intention at the moment,” adding that he will likely still write. Curtis describes the directing process as, ‘”A thousand days of pain! It’s a very ungrateful thing of me to say, because it’s such a privilege to be in a position where I’m allowed to direct anything. I’ve had a long go at it.” The unexpected international success of Four Weddings, which became one of the few romantic comedies to score an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture (Curtis’ script was also nominated) and ushered in the wave of Hugh Grant the movie star, instantly positioned the writer as the classy head of the genre itself. However, Curtis seems a bit tired of the genre stating, “There is a romantic comedy in there somewhere, but it stops halfway through. Now that I got older, you have a family. The moment you have a child, you start another family. Romantic comedies are only half the story.”
In recent years he has broken out of the genre to pen scripts for films as varied as Steven Spielberg’s World War I epic War Horse and the upcoming Trash, a thriller to be directed by Stephen Daldry. About Time, which had its premiere at the recent New York Film Festival, stars Gleeson as a young romantic who at the age of 21 learns he has inherited the family trick/curse of time travel. Love Actually scene-stealer Bill Nighy co-stars.