Warning: contains a major ‘Rye Lane’ spoiler
If you haven’t yet caught ‘Rye Lane’ at the cinema then run, don’t walk to see it before its run is over. It’s one of the films of the year to date and one of the best London romcom in, well, forever.
If you have seen it, you may have been left a bit slack-jawed by one cameo appearance that takes place as accountant Dom (‘Industry’s David Jonsson) and aspiring costume designer Yas (Vivian Oparah) wander South London, chewing the fat and slowly falling for each other.
As the pair wait to order burritos at a Brixton Market street food stall amusingly named ‘Love, Guactually’, it turns out that name isn’t a coincidence: the grumpy burrito seller dolloping hot sauce on their Mexican food is none other than Oscar-winner actor and ‘Love Actually’ star, Colin Firth.
So how did that come to pass? ‘I wrote a letter to Colin Firth saying: “We all love romcoms, and you are great in them, but mine’s different,” and he was up for it,’ explains director Raine Allen-Miller.
‘I wanted to give a friendly middle finger to a very well-known romcom by having a scene where they go to get a burrito and it’s called ‘About a Burrito’, or something. It was my fiancé who came up with “Love, Guactually’.’’
Firth was eager to support a Black British film and ‘pass on the baton from a romcom perspective’, adds Oparah. ‘It was an “ask and you will receive”-type moment.’
‘He’s from that era of “Love Actually”, “Notting Hill”, “Bridget Jones” – those big, heavy-hitter romcoms,’ says Jonsson. ‘This film pays homage to them but it’s its own beast. To have him passing on the baton felt really cool.’
It turns out that Firth’s history with this corner of South London isn’t nearly as well established. ‘We had lunch [before filming] and he kind of asked about Brixton Market,’ says Allen-Miller, ‘and I was like, “…hang on a minute!” Brixton Market is like my heart.’
The actor treated the film’s two leads to lunch in Brixton Market during filming. ‘This is our first film and he was like: watch this, watch that, don’t pay too much attention to that, just have fun,’ says Jonsson.
‘He was dropping all these gems and we just sat there wide-eyed,’ remembers Oparah.
‘Rye Lane’ is in cinemas now.
Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson talk ‘Rye Lane’, first dates and the magic of Peckham.