The movie ‘Last Christmas’ is the most anticipated movie of fall 2019 and will open in the theaters on November 8. Starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, the rom-com movie is inspired by and features the music of George Michael and Wham!
Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the movie and one of its main driving forces, went the rounds of interviews to promote the movie. Below is a collection of interviews of Emma where she talked of the movie ‘Last Christmas’ particularly about George Michael:
Emma Thompson on Australia’s Studio 10 show:
Q: This movie — ‘Last Christmas’ — was inspired by George Michael’s music. What was it about that music that inspired you to write the movie?
Emma Thompson: George Michael was north Londoner just like me. So I always felt a real connection with him because he was a scrapper from North London. I always felt connected to him in the same way that I always felt connected to David Bowie and always felt connected to Elton John. Because there’s something about British rock stars that, I don’t know, very honest, seems to me. Even though I never met him, I always loved his stuff. The most exciting thing about George was the way in which he developed because he would never have guessed after songs like “Last Christmas” and “Wake Me Up …” with Wham! that he would move on to albums like “Faith” and “Listen Without Prejudice.” His development as a musician — which is why it is so tragic that his life was cut short — was remarkable.
When I met him about this movie, he was sooooo touching coz he was so excited about it. And he was so interested in the elements of homelessness because he was very passionate about that. And while it was bad then, it’s much worse now. I’m just so sad he’s not with us to help us celebrate, giving this movie, it’s opening, it’s birth.
Q: Do you think he’d love it?
Emma Thompson: Yeah, I think he’d absolutely love it. It’s right up his alley. And his sisters have seen it and given their blessing and just have adored it. It would have been very close to his heart.
Emma Thompson on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon (JF): I want to talk about ‘Last Christmas.’ Let’s talk about this film. You came up with this idea. You wrote this, co-wrote this with your husband…
Emma Thompson: Yes.
JF: -…who I met backstage. A very nice, lovely gentleman. It’s based on the Wham! song, “Last Christmas”?
Emma Thompson: Yeah.
JF: And all George Michael’s songs.
Emma Thompson: All of his songs. It was weird. ‘Cause this wonderful producer, David Livingstone, said, “Do you want to write a screenplay? Kind of rom-com sort of thing. ‘Cause we need a new — great new Christmas movie… based on ‘Last Christmas.’
And I said, “Not really.” [ Laughter ] Because it’s not my favorite song. It’s not my favorite Christmas song. And then I started to — You know… (sings)
♪ Last Christmas, I gave you my heart ♪
♪ Very next day, you gave it away ♪
♪ This year, to save me from tears ♪
I don’t know what to do with that. So I told my old man, Mr. Wise.
And we started to talk about it and thought, “Is there an interesting sideways way of telling a different kind of story about the human heart?”
And so we started to work on it, and it was good treatment. And we sent it to George. And I met him. And he was just the loveliest guy you could imagine. And all of these themes in the movie that he was passionate about — homelessness — he had this great social conscience. And he was so lovely.
And so I got really enthused, and we started to write. And then, of course, he had that tragic early death. 2016, Christmas.
JF: He died actually on Christmas?
Emma Thompson: On Christmas Day. Yeah, nearly three years ago. So, we lost him, and I miss him so much, and I wish he was here ’cause I know he’d love it. ‘Cause the film’s like being hugged. And all of his music — we got 15 of his songs, including a new one at the end. And it’s so cool.
And “Heal the Pain,” which is my favorite of his songs, it’s sort of — it’s like it was written for the movie. And he said that. He said, “It’s like this –” ‘Cause he was someone who was always in search of authenticity, you know? And it was really hard for him, before he came out and all of that, to find himself. And he just had found himself, and then what happens?
JF: Gosh, I wish he was here to see it.
Emma Thompson: I wish he were.
Emma Thompson on the Late Night with Seth Myers
Seth Myers: You wrote this film with your husband …
Emma Thompson: It was, and it was accidental, as well, because — because this wonderful producer David Livingston said, “Do you feel like writing a movie based on George Michael’s Wham! song, ‘Last Christmas’?” And I said, “Not really.” [Laughter ] Because I’m not — It’s not my favorite Christmas song.
And, um, it was a long time ago. And I listened to it, and I thought, “Last Christmas, you gave me your heart. Then the very next day, you gave it away. And this year –” What can I do that? I can’t think of a story.
So, I told my old man. And we were on a walk in the hills in Scotland.
And we thought, I wonder if there’s something else we could do with it. Could we come at it at a different angle? So, we started dreaming up this idea.
You start with the idea, which is like a little piece of grit. And then you have to kind of pearlize the grit over many years with draft after draft after draft, you know? But the idea was good, and it lasted.
And I met George Michael about it two years before he died. And what a lovely guy.
Seth Myers: Yeah. And I will say, I — which is a thing that I always regret, I almost feel as though I appreciated exactly how lovely he was after he passed away.
Emma Thompson: I totally agree.
Seth Myers: You sort of hear the tributes and you realize, “Oh. I sort of saw you through the prism of your pop culture persona. And you were so much more — there was so much more depth to you than that.”
Emma Thompson: Yeah, he was an extraordinary man. I mean, really on the search all his life for a kind of authentic way of being. ‘Cause he hadn’t come out for a long, long time, and that was really hard. And his move from that kind of Wham! music to — like, “Listen Without Prejudice” is one of the greatest albums of all time, I think.
And I didn’t realize — it was really spooky. I had no idea how pertinent his lyrics, his poetry, and his music were to the movie and the story in the movie, until … it was like that late, late arrival like you just described. I just went, “Oh, my God. This guy’s really deep and profound, and had very, very great things to say about what it is to be human and how difficult it is and how complicated it is.
Seth Myers: When you get a message like that from the work you’re — you know, this is not an adaptation of a song, but the song is the inspiration, somebody else’s work. When you get that from them, are you so excited? ‘Cause you’re, like, “Oh, my God. They had given me more than I even thought”? Or do you have fear of, like, “Oh, I better not blow this, ’cause now this is more than I thought it was going to be”?
Emma Thompson: It happened over such a long period of time.
Seth Myers: How many years was it?
Emma Thompson: Eight.
Seth Myers: Eight years? Wow. That you guys — your marriage survived
working on an eight-year project of any kind.
Emma Thompson: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s extraordinary, isn’t it?
Seth Myers: That’s the real Christmas miracle.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- ‘Last Christmas’ Movie Production Notes
- Wham!’s Last Christmas: List of Cover Versions
- 12 Things You Need to Know About Wham!’s “Last Christmas” Song
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)