Last Christmas producer David Livingstone first got here up with the concept for the Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding-starring film impressed by the Wham! track of the identical identify when he was focused on making a vacation movie within the custom of It’s a Wonderful Life however wanted a hook.
“I thought, ‘People seem to be so into brands and IP; to try to come up with something original was going to be tough,'” Livingstone advised The Hollywood Reporter at Last Christmas’ New York premiere final month. “I thought the biggest thing I can think of is [the song] ‘Last Christmas.’ That’s the one thing that happens every Christmas, particularly in the U.K. [Michael’s] our Stevie Wonder, really, where you just go, ‘Oh my God, Christmas has arrived. It’s ‘Last Christmas.””
Luckily Livingstone knew Michael via an opportunity encounter with the musician.
“Once upon a time I despatched George Michael a script for Four Weddings and a Funeral, which he stated no to,” Livingstone advised THR. “And I met him on a plane, and I said, ‘Oh I sent you the script.’ So I had a little bit of a dialogue — tiny, tiny, five-minute chat — with him.”
And Livingstone knew Michael’s publicist, which was what bought his concept to the musician. Michael was however provided that Emma Thompson wrote the script, Livingstone stated.
When he approached Thompson, who ended up writing the Last Christmas script with Greg Wise and Bryony Kimmings, she was too. Then her busy schedule and Michael’s tragic demise on Christmas in 2016 put the venture on maintain.
But a yr and a half after Michael died, his supervisor known as Livingstone and stated he needed to resurrect the venture, across the identical time Livingstone and Thompson occurred to see one another at an awards ceremony.
“We were both backstage and I said, ‘We should really do something, Emma. And she said, ‘Let’s do Last Christmas. Let’s make it happen.’ So we did. She wrote the beautiful script,” Livingstone recalled, explaining that Thompson then despatched the script to director Paul Feig.
And the Universal movie, which options 15 of Michael’s songs — three Wham! tracks and 12 by Michael as a solo artist, together with the brand new launch “This Is How (We Want You To Get High)” — marks “the last sanctioned project by George Michael,” Livingstone stated. “This is the last thing that he signed off on.”
And Livingstone’s notably pleased with having the brand new monitor, which he factors out wasn’t one thing that is been “in the offcuts bin. It wasn’t lying about for ages.”
“This is something he was going to put on a new album. So it wasn’t like we dredged up an old song,” Livingstone stated. “The first time we heard it was in Emma’s living room and we started dancing in the living room.”
As for deciding what number of George Michael songs to incorporate and the place to combine them into the movie, Feig stated that was pushed by his personal “deep dive” into the late artist’s work.
“I was a casual fan; I knew the hits; I didn’t know the deep tracks,” Feig stated. “When I discovered songs like ‘Heal the Pain,’ which I hadn’t heard before, suddenly I was like, ‘This is the movie.’ And I kept having that experience with these songs and then the movie almost started to want these songs, as weird as it sounds. We’d be in the editing room and [think] ‘We need a song here.’ And you look at the song and you think, ‘Wait, this matches perfectly, tonally and with the lyrics and all.’ So we went from maybe we were going to have five songs to having 15 songs.”
While the film is billed as a standard boy-meets-girl romantic comedy, there is a twist in the direction of the top.
Feig stated when he first encountered that second when he was studying the script, he was already focused on directing, however “this took that to another level.”
“I like when movies surprise you and things are unexpected but in very emotional ways — something that affects you so deeply and connects you even more to the characters and makes their journey become even more clear,” Feig stated of his response.
And Livingstone additionally appreciated that the reveal took the movie past the style.
“It was important that we made something that stayed in people’s minds beyond just a romantic comedy,” Livingstone stated.
And like every little thing with Last Christmas, all of it comes again to Michael, he stated: “It was important to George, and George was sort of the one that set the ball rolling a little bit in that direction that wasn’t just boy meets girl, they have an argument, and they get together. We wanted to do something that was more of a take on where we are today as a society, and we had conversations about the beauty around us today, and sometimes people don’t notice, so all of this fed into the script and, obviously, in the U.K. — who knew we’d still be talking about Brexit, so little elements fed in. None of them are in the front seat, but they’re all passengers on this journey. It makes the film a fulfilling experience more than just an everyday romantic comedy.”
This article initially appeared in THR.com.