Sophie Hyde has never read a screenplay faster. That 52 on Tuesdays The filmmaker was in quarantine in Australia when she learned that a director was being sought for an independent film written by Katy Brand and starring two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as a lonely 55-year-old widow and empty nester who hires a male sex worker (Daryl McCormack) because she has never had an orgasm in her life.
“The concept [was] amazing and Emma is brilliant but together they just felt like magic,” Hyde tells us in a recent interview for the resulting sex-positive dramatic comedy. Good luck to you Leo Grandewhich premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January (the film is now streaming on Hulu) to rave reviews – and Oscar enthusiasm for Thompson.
While much of the Zweihander is chatty, almost theatrical, with Nancy nervously contemplating whether she’ll go through various feats with Leo, the film has garnered a lot of attention for its climactic, fulfilling sex scene — which Thompson and co. revealed wasn’t originally in the Script included but added during production.
“We moved toward this as a group,” says Thompson, 63. “It was earned through our exploration of the characters and the situation and what was right. In a way, the ending couldn’t have been decided until we’d gone through the journey with them… These two people were enjoying themselves without reservations, without limitations… And yet it wasn’t a romance. I loved that. I thought it was radical, showing intimacy without romance.”
love actually, Leo Grande is not.
Thompson has called a scene in the film – in which Nancy stands completely naked and looks at herself in the mirror – as the hardest thing she’s ever done. That sense and sensitivity and Harry Potter Star tells us she got over it by “being Nancy.” At least after some resistance.
“I mean, I’ve been pulled, kicked and yelled at. I thought, ‘Please don’t make me do this. Please,” she recalls. “But I said, ‘Okay. It’s all right. It’s not me…Nancy doesn’t objectify herself…She doesn’t judge herself negatively or positively. It’s an oddly neutral gaze, and she’s looking at herself, not for the outside, but for the inside. She is suddenly able to sense herself. So it’s kind of like a rebirth. So that look in the mirror is really the first time she sees her body.”
Hyde says she was aware of Thompson’s reservations.
“Because Emma is an incredible person who is intellectually very stimulating and has a lot of intellectual ideas, but she’s still like the rest of us, just steeped in a culture that teaches us that we should hate our bodies,” Hyde explains .
“You know, it’s not easy to get out of there… And as an actress, she’s constantly confronted with it… I knew it was a difficult thing. I don’t think I realized how difficult this moment would be for her. Because she knows Nancy has just found this great pleasure in herself… For the first time in her life, she doesn’t care what it looks like.”
— Video produced by Anne Lilburn and edited by Jimmie Rhee
Good luck to you Leo Grande is currently streaming on Hulu.
Watch the trailer: