Interview: Notting Hill actress Lorelei King discusses the film's 20th anniversary

Incredibly, classic Richard Curtis rom-com Notting Hill celebrates its 20th anniversary this Valentine's Day.

As if you needed reminding, the movie pairs Hugh Grant with Julia Roberts for a star-crossed romantic tale of a London bookshop owner and an A-list Hollywood star. The movie was one of the biggest hits of 1999, and remains a high-point in the careers of Grant and Curtis, delivering a witty and tender fairy tale view of contemporary Britain.

To celebrate the movie's Valentine's Day re-release in Cineworld, we caught up with actress Lorelei King who plays the publicist of Roberts's character Anna in the film. We chatted about what it was like making the movie, plus her own extensive voice acting career, including the role of MUTHUR in Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant.

Lorelei King Notting Hill 20th anniversary

1. Was there a movie that inspired you to take up acting for the first time?

I can't say that there was a film that inspired me to take up acting, but I was such a film buff when I was young. I wanted to work on the technical side back then – I studied film editing, and I especially loved classic American films such as The Grapes of Wrath and Citizen Kane. But the avenue I took into acting was theatre.

Frankly, it was all a bit accidental! I had the right look at the right time for a certain play, and it was in the process of rehearsing and performing in front of a live audience that I fell in love with acting.

2. What was your route into the industry?

It was the classic route, I suppose. I did some theatre, got an agent, started auditioning for TV and film roles.

3. How did you get the role in Notting Hill?

It was pretty straightforward – I auditioned for the director and the writer here in London, and was thrilled when I was cast as Karen, Anna Scott's publicist.

4. Even though it's a relatively small role, your character helps facilitate the reunion between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts later in the movie. What was the experience of working on the movie?

Working on that movie was one of the happiest times of my career. Everything seemed suffused with love. I had gotten married not long before we started filming, so I was walking around with hearts in my eyes anyway!

Julia and Hugh were a delight to work with – funny, kind, always professional. The director and all the cast and crew were lovely too, and I just remember smiling all the time. Jobs like that don't come along all that often for an actor, and I will always treasure the memory of working on Notting Hill.

5. Although you're American, you're now based in London. Can you relate to the journey that Anna goes on in the movie?

I can! I thought the film captured very well an American's reaction to some very British behaviour – and I'm so glad her character ended up living in London. It's one of the world's great cities.

6. You've had extensive experiencing in the writing field, so did you naturally respond to the wit and charm of Richard Curtis' screenplay?

It's kind of you to say so, but I think anyone would respond to Richard Curtis' writing – he has such a gift for connecting!

7. Among your many voice credits is the role of ship's computer MUTHUR in Alien: Covenant. What's the challenge of conveying a character when the audience can't get a measure of your physical presence?

Normally when playing a voice-only character, the challenge is managing to convey nuance – you don't have the option of letting your facial expressions do some of the work, for example. But with a character like MUTHUR, who is an AI, much of the work is done by the text, as her function is to convey information.

Once director Ridley Scott and I had established her tone, the rest was pretty straightforward. Playing a character through voice only is actually quite liberating, and MUTHUR is one of my favourite characters to have played.

8. You're very well known as an audio book narrator, and were recently inducted into the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame. How is narrating different from acting on film?

Working on a film is collaborative – you're usually working with lots of other people – whereas with audio book narration, you're more of a one-man band, playing all the parts and often making directorial decisions.

It's one of the hardest jobs an actor can do, as it takes so much stamina, but it's also one of the most rewarding. I've been narrating for many years, and last year I decided it was time to share some of my expertise, so I co-wrote "Storyteller: How to be an Audio Book Narrator" with audio producer Ali Muirden. That was a lot of fun.

9. Lastly, why do you think Notting Hill's popularity has endured for all this time?

Because it's well-written, looks beautiful, and has two terrific central performance – but mostly I think its popularity has endured because it's about love and kindness. In what is sometimes a hard, cold world, we can all use more of that.

Looking for Valentine's Day movie inspiration? Then click here to book your tickets for the 20th anniversary of Notting Hill, and don't forget to tweet us your responses @Cineworld.