Good luck to you, Big Leo stars Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack discuss sexual positivity and the space they’ve been given to explore their characters.
Good luck to you, Big Leo, currently on Hulu, is a charming film that nonetheless takes its message about sexuality and sex work seriously. Directed by Sophie Hyde and written by Katy Brand, the film stars film legend Emma Thompson as Nancy Stokes, a woman who realizes she is dissatisfied with the sex she has had in her life so far.
To fix this, Nancy brings in Leo (Daryl McCormack, Peaky Blinders). The two embark on a journey of sexual fulfillment and self-discovery that isn’t quite what they both initially expected.
screen speech spoke with Thompson and McCormack about the space they were given to explore the intimacy between their characters, the lessons they learned about sex work, and the experience of being at peace with their own bodies..
Screen bleed: What a wonderful, wonderful film. I loved every second of it, and like most of the movie it’s the two of you just talking together. What can you say about your partnership on this film and working together?
Emma Thompson: It was a great privilege, really. We were also helped by many external things. I sometimes think if we had done this… If we had more time, if there was no COVID, if we weren’t in lockdown, if there was more money and we were filming in a grandiose way somehow – everything in it, so to speak, conspired. to make it more intense. The intimacy we could and needed to find.
If we had hung out with the team and met everyone else, I don’t think we could have reached the kinds of spaces we needed to reach. There was a kind of silence around us, because the city was closed and kind of closing in. It was winter, and we kind of hugged each other because we were the only ones.
And we were very lucky because Sophie Hyde, our director, created a safe space that we could really be and explore. But it felt so intense and intimate, didn’t it? And I’m sure that was part of it, don’t you think?
Daryl McCormack: Yeah, it felt very established for us to actually exist and co-exist with each other in that space. And we had a small intimate team that seemed to be supporting each other and supporting the exploration of these characters.
And one of the main things, I think, was the chronological order in which we shot it. We were able to gradually become more and more comfortable as actors alongside characters who were getting closer and closer to each other.
One thing I’m loving about this press tour is that it’s a continuation of the sexual positivity that’s in the movie, because we’re having these discussions. Daryl, I heard you had some conversations with sex workers in the movie. What did you learn and what do you hope people learn from watching this movie?
Daryl McCormack: I felt, and I hope people learn too, that there is a general image of sex workers as people who are belittled and who are victims. And in our search, we didn’t find that.
One thing I’m super proud of is that this movie is really highlighting that experience, and also just the ability that sex work has to spiritually heal and physically release. That’s what I hoped to bring to Leo’s character. To not feel like I was here to represent sex work as a whole, but just to really embody that essence that I’ve been privileged to receive from the people I’ve talked to.
Lastly, Emma, I just want to hear from you what you learned about yourself from making this movie. Is there anything you would look back on that you wish you could tell your younger self who might not feel confident? Seeing that, I was like, “God, I just want to be naked in front of a mirror and be like, ‘I’m hot.'”
Emma Thompson: I think one of the phrases that came up on this tour is very interesting. It’s the neutral gaze that Nancy manages to look at herself. Neutral sounds like such a neutral and bland word – but it’s actually non-judgmental, one way or another. No, “Ooh, I’m so hot” or “Ooh, I’m so horrible.”
None of these things are really what happens in the end. She unlocked herself. Something happened in her body, yes-but also in her soul; in her spirit. She’s not looking at her body the way she looked at it before, or the way we tend to look at our bodies from the outside in. She’s just internalizing a sense of ownership that she hasn’t had until now.
It’s a strangely innocent and heavenly moment; almost pre-lapsarian, like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Just for a moment, suddenly, there is no shame. There is no self-awareness. She is alone, naked with her pleasure, and with her body that is hers and precious to her.
Good luck to you, Big Leo Synopsis
Retired widow Nancy Stokes hires a handsome young sex worker named Leo Grande, hoping to enjoy a night of pleasure and self-discovery after an unsatisfying married life.
More: The 10 Best Emma Thompson Films, According to Ranker
Good luck to you, Big Leo is now available to stream on Hulu.
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