Richard Whalley Anthony Curtis, CBE is a British screenwriter, producer and film director, who was born in New Zealand to Australian parents.
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I’m co-founder of Comic Relief and producer of Red Nose Day. Red Nose Day is all about bringing people together to have fun, raise money, and change the lives of kids living in poverty. I am also a screenwriter and director, responsible for films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Love Actually which is getting a short sequel this year during Red Nose Day on May 25. We’re calling it Red Nose Day Actually.
If you want more information about Red Nose Day you can learn more here - https://rednoseday.org/
We’d also love it if you started a fundraiser, which you can do here (and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match everything raised on Facebook for Red Nose Day, up to $1 million until June 15, so that’s definitely a nice added bonus to help save more lives) - https://www.facebook.com/fundraisers/RedNoseDayUSA/
What's the best fundraising idea you've seen?
Someone we know got sponsored for every hour of labour - she was having a child that day. I like Swear jars... and sponsored silences - and I once stuck my son to a door with duct tape and sent photos of him to his godparents - saying I'd take him down when we raised $100.
What made you come up with the idea for Red Nose Day?
I went to Ethiopia in 1985 - there was a famine there and I saw how little bits of money we give DO go directly to save people's lives by giving them food and medicine. So I started Red Nose Day - and I still believe that if you buy a red nose at Walgreens, you can save a kid's life. And one dollar buys $10 of food for hungry American kids!!!
Also, two part question - what's your favorite movie you've worked on and what the heck is Mr Bean like when he's not in front of the camera? Love that guy.
Four Weddings was probably the most fun - we were all so young. As for Rowan- he's my best friend and actually rather serious most of the time. He takes his job VERY seriously.
Blackadder and Vicar of Dibley are incredibly entertaining, any chance of either returning for a one time deal or something?
If you take a look online - I have done a couple of Dibley specials for Red Nose Day - we did one two years ago. And Rowan did a "Mr Bean at a funeral' special too on the UK Red Nose show.
Who has been best and/or toughest to work with in your career?
I really like the Love Actually cast - except Hugh of course, who is a scoundrel. Check out the trailer for the remake we're showing on NBC on Thursday at 10 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9vGoj449s4
Is Lenny Henry involved with Red Nose Day USA at all?
Not really - though he sends you all his love. He's a Trustee of our organisation in the UK, so he watches everything we do very carefully.
Holy crap! I get to ask this question to the writer/director of Love Actually! I've wanted to ask this for years!
Do you think the scene where Mark holds up signs professing his love to the wife of his best friend was a good idea? And if so, how can you defend that?
I feel stranger about it as the years go by. In the little remake we've made - I just decided to use the scene as an intro to the little film - rather than something happening to the real characters.
What were the initial struggles of doing Red Nose Day in America on a TV network like NBC whose broadcasting format and schedule are wildly different than that of the BBC?
The first shock to me was the advertising breaks! But we've found out that in fact that's often the time that people end up giving money.
And pretty it down into smaller sections was complicated. We soon worked out that we needed an appeal film every second act, etc., etc. But it's been fun. And this year we're trying something very different. With this Ninja Warrior special - and the Bear Grylls/Julia Roberts special. I think they're both great shows and a real breakthrough for us....
After Comic Relief, what other projects do you have coming up?
I'm going to write another film. BY THE WAY - if anyone reading is a Dr Who fan ( I once wrote an episode of that ), check this out - on Omaze - the chance to win breakfast with 7 actual doctor who's - in London. - https://www.omaze.com/experiences/Dr_who
If you were a young writer today eager to write the next great romantic comedy, how would you approach your goal in the current media landscape?
I believe Kumail Nanjiani's film The Big Sick is amazing - and he wrote about his own experience from the heart. That normally does the trick on Romcoms. Check out his Facebook Live for us - and donate!!!! https://www.facebook.com/KumailNanjiani/videos/1371453192900768/
So is like Hugh Grant your boyfriend or do you owe him a few favours or something?
We actually are just friends... And he's done lots of stuff for Red Nose Day for lots of years. Hope you will too...
I have been thinking of a Lord Slackbladder Red Nose day event. It would involve the loosening of bowels and measurement of waste products. Would you endorse this event?
Why did you decide to make different versions of Red Nose Dat Actually for the UK and USA?
PS. I loved the Comic Relief special in the UK back in March. I really enjoyed the new format.
In the USA we've added an extra scene - mainly because Laura Linney was rehearsing on Broadway and couldn't do her bit in time! It's an American exclusive.
Where can we find a breakdown of where the donations go? For example, what percentage goes to administrative expense, and what percentage goes to advertising?
If you want the full details, take a look at our most recent 990 tax filing, which gives further information on this - it's available on the Comic Relief website (comicrelief.org) or
What is your favourite Sketch from a Red Nose day?
And do you have a overall favourite Red Nose day you have organised?
I really liked our Coldplay / Game of Thrones one - take a look if you like - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs7xO5P3Az4 - and then donate if you can! I can't remember my favourite Red Nose Day - they blend into each other - let's hope this year is the best one...
Liam Neeson is obviously an actor with a lot of cache who has turned in some deeply emotional and moving performances over the years. He's done a lot of work that's very near and dear to my heart, and I believe that he's truly one of the greatest talents of this generation. He starred in one work in particular that's equally precious many who share my faith as it is to myself, dealing with unfortunate themes that aren't pleasant to talk about, that was released in the 90s. I'm of course speaking of Darkman.
What was it like directing him, any stories? Can you get in contact with him and tell him that a weirdo on the internet demands that he star in Darkman IV? Thanks!
He was SOOOO sweet this year - re-meeting his son from Love Actually for the first time since the premiere 14 years ago. He's as nice in real life as you'd hope he'd be. And as tall. And as handsome.
If given the opportunity, would you want to write another episode of Doctor Who? Vincent and the Doctor is one of the best episodes of the whole show.
Of course - but I've got to get Red Nose Day USA rocking first - did you ever see the Red Nose Doctor Who? Here it is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp_Fw5oDMao
Hey Richard, how do you like your name?
What? My own name? I preferred my Dad's which was Tony Curtis. Even though he wasn't "Tony Curtis". In his generation that was like being called Ryan Gosling.
All time favorite movie ever and all time favorite movie of yours?
I like Spinal Tap and 500 Days of Summer more than any films of mine.
What's your favorite memory working on Blackadder or Mr. Bean?
Series 1 of Blackadder - very cold. Series 2 - lots of people, lots of fun. Mr Bean - it's all tricky, with NO DIALOGUE AT ALL!
I saw the news anchor clip of Ben Stiller this weekend. What is it like to work with him?
I love Ben. He's done stuff for us before. I hope you take his advice and do a little fundraising things - every dollar makes a difference - https://www.facebook.com/RedNoseDayUSA/videos/1885679028373444/
Oh and of course, thank you for all that you, Comic Relief, and Red Nose Day do to help people all around the world.
You are so welcome - it's actually of course the public's generosity that makes all the difference - otherwise we'd be whistling in the wind.
What type of red nose is your favourite? Personally, i likes the sponge ones. The newee ones seem to break easily.
I know my LEAST favourite. One year we had noses shaped like tiny tomatoes. It seemed to ruin the whole concept. My favourites are the ones on kids we've helped - here's Ed Sheeran's great little video with lots of kids in noses - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6bEj4ejvfc
Thank you for doing this AMA.
Which state has received the most funding? And which red nose day event has been the most enjoyable?
I don't know the answer to the which state question - what I DO know is that fund projects in EVERY State - wherever you live, Red nose Day is helping kids. Do you know - it was quite a lot of fun recently being in Kenya with Julia Roberts doing the Bear Grylls show that goes out 9 o'clock Thursday - she was having SUCH a tough time and we laughed a lot about it.
He's serious? Have any good stories?
Take a look at my first movie - The Tall Guy - Rowan plays himself - and basically - it's pretty close!
What's the hardest part of running a charity like Red Nose Day?
The hope. Every year we hope hope hope - and then some things turn out marvelously, and some things not quite as well... But if you buy a nose and do a fundraising event, it'll all be worthwhile.
What's the address of that bar in Wisconsin?
Ha - if only we all knew that, we'd all be there...
Hi Richard. I've heard that Rowan is notoriously difficult to make laugh. Have you ever managed to get a decent laugh out of him and if so what was the joke?
He laughs all the time. Usually at how much richer he is than me.
What's your favorite movie you've written or directed? Thanks!
Actually, weirdly - I love The Girl in the Cafe, which I wrote and David Yates directed - who has since done the Harry Potter films. Check it out...
Hopefully you get to this. I love Red Nose Day. Ever since you got David Tennant involved against Lauren Cooper. Know there is a major Omaze contest going on right now but have you ever thought of doing a special skit that brings back all of the Doctors and will be available if a certain amount of fans start fundraisers? I think it would destroy with how massive Whovians are in the US.
I think that'd be tough to fix - but now we've seen the amazing reaction to the Omaze thing - we won't give up! - https://www.omaze.com/experiences/Dr_who
Comic Relief this year was very poor. Have you considered getting new blood in to liven it up?
Well, now I will!!!
any hope of a reunion of the cast of young ones and "oxbridge" university challenge luminaries ben elton, emma thompson et al?
Very hard without Rik, I think. Who actually did the FIRST EVER Comic Relief thing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGOU0o9K89g
Wow thank you for answering my shit post and I give money because it's for great causes I am sick of the giant celebrity circle jerk it's become though.
Thanks for the cash. It's that that really matters. I was in Maine recently - and Kenya - and the work we support is amazing - you'd be proud of yourself.