Unrequited schoolboy love inspired Richard Curtis to make rom-coms

Puppy love, actually: The unrequited schoolboy obsession with a classmate that inspired Richard Curtis to make romantic comedies

  • It could be a plotline in a hit romantic comedy movie from Richard Curtis’s, 65
  • Instead it is the true story from the childhood of the famous director himself 
  • Curtis fell in love, stole his mother’s ring and gave it a girl, who threw it out

It could be a plotline in one of Richard Curtis’s hit romantic comedy movies.

A boy falls in love with a classmate, steals his mother’s ring to give it to her, only for the girl to throw it out of a window.

Undeterred, the besotted boy befriends the girl’s brother, even though he can’t stand him, with the aim of being invited to their home to be close to her.

But it is all to no avail. His love remains unrequited and it haunts him for years.

In fact this is a true story from the childhood of the man who directed feel-good films such as Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually.

Curtis, 65, pictured with his wife Emma Freud, said: ‘The love thing was a problem for me. The reason is that when I was seven, I fell in love with a girl on a bus and stole a ring from my mum and gave it to her and she chucked it out of the school window into the snow’

Curtis, 65, said: ‘The love thing was a problem for me. The reason is that when I was seven, I fell in love with a girl on a bus and stole a ring from my mum and gave it to her and she chucked it out of the school window into the snow.’

Curtis has said in the past the girl was called Tracy Thompson and that she was ‘all I thought about for two years’.

He said he retrieved his mother Glyness’s ring, adding: ‘It was such a farce. I made friends with the girl’s brother, Greg, whom I didn’t like at all, just so that he would invite me to his house and I could see [his sister] Tracy from time to time.

‘I was always an absolute fool for love … it definitely was too big a bit of my … somewhere deep inside, that is a problem.’

Richard Curtis first fell in love when he was just seven years old. Pictured: Curtis as a young boy

The episode unfolded in the early 60s, when Curtis attended the American School in Stockholm, where his father Anthony worked.

He doesn’t believe he had suffered ‘psychological damage’ because of it, but admitted: ‘Definitely there was some psychological freakery there.’ 

He added: ‘When I watched films, the ones that struck a chord were ones like Ghost and Gregory’s Girl that had love as their plot device.’

In a wide-ranging interview with the Desperately Seeking Wisdom podcast, Curtis acknowledged his fixation from an early age with falling in love was ‘really odd’.

But he ‘bottled it up’ in the first decade of his career, when he made satirical TV show Not The Nine O’Clock News and the Blackadder comedy series.

Curtis is now a father to four children, aged 17 to 26, with his partner of 30 years Emma Freud, great-granddaughter of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. He told the podcast his devotion to his work, including Comic Relief, which he co-founded after visiting Ethiopia during the 1985 famine, has taken a toll on his family life.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Desperately Seeking Wisdom podcast, Curtis acknowledged his fixation from an early age with falling in love was ‘really odd’. Pictured: Richard Curtis and Emma Freud attend special screening of Yesterday

He was shocked when his children once let slip their feelings. ‘All my kids think I work too hard,’ he said. ‘I was horrified when on my birthday, they gave me a comic book that they written about me not being a very good father.

‘It shows them going down a magic slide and arriving in a village in Africa, and understanding why I’d been in a bad mood and worked so hard. They thought I’d love it. It was a beautiful object, but it was a hurtful one.’

Curtis defended Comic Relief following accusations that the charity has colonialist tendencies for sending celebrities to highlight and film causes in Africa.

He said he was wounded by Labour MP David Lammy’s claim that TV presenter Stacey Dooley was acting like a ‘white saviour’ by posting photos of herself on social media during a Comic Relief trip to Africa. ‘Those films spread empathy, compassion and interest, rather than encourage stereotypes,’ he said.

Curtis also revealed he has suffered ‘a lot of deep sorrow’ in recent years following the suicide of his sister Belinda in 2009 aged 54. ‘I think about it a lot. All the love and all the money in the world couldn’t stop her from committing suicide,’ he said.

Desperately Seeking Wisdom is hosted by Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s No10 director of communications. Visit desperatelyseekingwisdom.com

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