Emma Thompson on “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Why wait this long to do the sex scenes, the naked scenes and all? Have you been batting away these offers all your career?

E. THOMPSON: No, which may come as a surprise, but I suspect is not. I did my first big sex scene with beloved Jeff Goldblum, where we spent three days naked in “The Tall Guy,” Richard Curtis’ first film. And I learned a lot actually from that experience. And one of the things I learned was that being naked on set made everyone terribly kind and sort of — sort of protective. People would bring you a cup of tea. You would be standing there naked, and they’d bring you a cup of tea and say, Here you are, Christiane. Here’s your tea.


E. THOMPSON: And then they’d walk away like that. Just make sure that they don’t look down. Everyone was so sensitive. And I — actually, I salute that crew, because it — I thought to myself, if I ever have to do this again, I’m not going to be frightened.

AMANPOUR: And, therefore, you weren’t in “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande?

E. THOMPSON: No, but one of the reasons for that was, I was working with this wonderful woman, Sophie Hyde. And we had rehearsal, Daryl and I. And we both — it’s always very nerve- racking.

AMANPOUR: Daryl McCormack, of course, is your young co-star.

E. THOMPSON: Daryl McCormack is our extraordinary…

AMANPOUR: We haven’t said whether film is about, because everybody is talking about Emma Thompson and the naked scenes. So we’re going to get to the film in a moment.


E. THOMPSON: OK, very good.

AMANPOUR: But just tell me about how you processed.

E. THOMPSON: Well, how we prepared for it was, we all took our clothes off, the three of us. We had a — we just closed the rehearsal room. And the three of us…

AMANPOUR: You mean the director and you two stars?

E. THOMPSON: Yes. Yes. Yes. And we sat on the floor and talked about our bodies and then we drew around our bodies on great big pieces of paper and marked off the places where we hurt the scars, the bits we don’t like. I mean, I crossed out the whole thing, basically.


E. THOMPSON: But, of course, that’s my brainwashing from very early on. And we were set free by that, really. And then, of course, we made the film. And the film goes — we spent 19 days together making the film. And it’s — because it’s mostly conversation, actually. And when we got to the end, and we had to take our clothes off, it was like — it was being — it was like being released. We were terribly happy and very comfortable. And we had no words, which was utter bliss, because we’d spent so long learning these long, long speeches. And we would do very long takes, do 12 to 13 pages of dialogue at a time. So, it was an intense, very intense experience. And then, finally, doing our sex scenes together was sort of like Christmas, really?


About This Episode EXPAND

Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky discusses the March for Our Lives movement. Emma Thompson reflects on her role in the new film “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.” Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt explains how racism and antisemitism are intertwined.