One of your favorite moments in The Holiday was improvised, according to Sophie herself
There are so many memorable moments from the 2006 holiday rom-com The Holiday. Like when an Oscar-winning screenwriter tells a heartbroken British journalist that she needs to act like the leading lady of her own life. (Preach, Arthur Abbott!) And, of course, there’s the infamous Mr. Napkin Head scene. But what’s even more incredible than Jude Law putting a paper napkin over his head and smoking a spoon like a pipe is that the dialogue in this scene was totally improvised, according to scene-stealer Miffy Englefield, who played Law’s daughter Sophie.
“With Mr. Napkin Head, when I say, ‘It’s so funny. You’ll fall off your chair it’s so funny.’ That was completely improv, that was a one-time thing I said. Never could reenact it, couldn’t remember what I said at the time, and they actually used it,” Englefield told Vulture.
If you haven’t seen The Holiday—in which case we have to ask what you’ve been doing for the past 14 years—here’s some context for this scene:
When Los Angeleno Amanda (Cameron Diaz) swaps homes with British countryside-dweller Iris (Kate Winslet) to get over her cheating ex, she’s doesn’t expect to fall in love with Graham, an impossibly charming book editor who happens to look exactly like Jude Law. But she does!
One night, armed with champagne and wearing a great color-blocked dress, Amanda goes to Graham’s house, only to learn that Graham is actually a widower with two young daughters. Obviously, Amanda falls even more in love with Graham after meeting his adorable children and, at his kids’ urging, he performs a cute but honestly kind of embarrassing skit called “Mr. Napkin Head.”
Both Englefield and Emma Pritchard, who played her sister, Olivia, were only 6 years old when they filmed The Holiday, which makes Englefield’s improvisation even more incredible. But Englefield told Vulture that director Nancy Meyers encouraged the young actors to play around with the script as they filmed:
“Everything was scripted, but a lot of the directions and stuff changed as we went along. When you’re working with kids as young as me and Emma were—things change. They always took our ideas onboard, like, ‘Let’s actually ask the two girls if this is how they’d react in real life,’ which I think makes the film look a little more natural.”
Other aspects of the Mr. Napkin Head scene were improvised as well, Englefield said:
Beyond the Mr. Napkin Head scene, Englefield told Vulture that the experience filming The Holiday was pretty incredible—and that Jude Law and Cameron Diaz are just as lovely in real life as they are on screen.
When the film wrapped, the two actors gave Englefield and Pritchard thoughtful gifts to commemorate their experience.
Even though Englefield is now 20 years old (feel old yet?), she can’t quite get away from this iconic scene in this iconic rom-com. “It’s the one that my friends like to do most in bars,” Englefield laughs. “Awful, absolutely awful.”