LONDON (Reuters) - Actress Emma Thompson has said she is not taking part in a short "Love Actually" sequel for Britain's Comic Relief charity appeal because it is "too soon" to reprise her role in the romantic comedy after the death last year of co-star Alan Rickman.
Thompson and Rickman played wife and husband Karen and Harry in the hit 2003 movie, which also starred Hugh Grant as the British prime minister and Bill Nighy as an ageing rock star, as well as Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson and Colin Firth.
A short film revisiting the characters is in the works for the annual charity appeal, which holds its fundraising Red Nose Day and televised evening of celebrity comedy sketches on March 24.
Speaking to the BBC last week, director Richard Curtis confirmed some of the big names would take part but added there was a question mark over Thompson's return. Rickman, also known for the "Harry Potter" films, died of cancer in January 2016, aged 69.
"Richard (Curtis) wrote to me and said 'Darling I can't write anything for you because of Alan' and I said 'No, of course you can't, it would be sad, too sad, it's too soon,'" Thompson told Reuters at the UK launch of Disney's new "Beauty and the Beast" film on Thursday night.
"It's absolutely right, it's supposed to be for Comic Relief and there isn't much comic relief in the loss of our dear friend really only just over a year ago... We thought and thought but it just seemed wrong."
The 2003 movie is set in the run-up to Christmas, with different stories of romance and love woes, like Rickman's character getting close to a female colleague. In one scene, Thompson's character tears up alone in the bedroom when she discovers a necklace he bought is not for her.
While saying it was "absolutely the right decision" to leave her out, Thompson said the idea of the sequel was appealing. "To revisit the wonderful fun characters of Bill Nighy and Hugh Grant and all of that, that's fantastic."
(Reporting By Helena Williams; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)