<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1747911118815584&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

'Good Luck to You, Leo Grande' is a masterclass for screenwriters on collaborating

June 17, 2022
5 min read time

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande might be one of the best movies to sprout from early pandemic shooting times, and it has nothing to do with the pandemic. It’s a one-location look at intimacy and how we allow ourselves to give into it, or barely give it a second thought throughout our everyday lives.

Emma Thompson plays Nancy, an aging woman who has never had an orgasm, and who has only been with one man-- until now. Nancy hires a sex worker to help her overcome intimacy issues (she’s made a list of what she wants to tackle). The sex worker played by Daryl McCormack is the titular Leo, and he’s very good at his job. 

Director Sophie Hyde came on the project after the first script was written by British comedian Katy Brand. Emma Thompson had already signed on and Hyde said, “yes, let’s please do it.” Hyde liked the idea of the whole film being set in the same hotel room.

“One room is a tantalizing idea. You get to just focus on the 2 actors and the space and deep dive into that and the performances, and the bodies, and not be distracted by the other things like moving locations and whatever else. It’s very enticing, particularly in the middle of the pandemic. We’d all been at home for a long time, [and we were all] looking for a story to connect to.”

One of the lovelier aspects of the film is just how much you get to know about these two people. Hyde worked extensively with Brand on the backstories of both Nany and Leo.

“When I came on, the draft Katy had done was early. It was a fresh, short draft, and we were really on the same page [about] where we wanted to go with it. We ended up doing 11 drafts together and a lot of things really shifted. Katy so strongly connected to Nancy- she was fresh on the page instantly. And I related to Leo so strongly, so we asked what is his story, how is he the leading man, and when it comes to backstory it was a combo of all of us getting to that place.”

The team also did a lot of research. “We talked to a lot of sex workers,” Hyde continued. We heard a few significant and great stories about different parts of the job in the industry, and when we cast Daryl there were pages and documents of backstory… stuff that was never going to be in the film, but we were able to locate exactly who Daryl was, and now that we had Daryl in the role we talked with him about the elements that were most important to us and how to use those in his story.”

Perhaps above all else this film triumphs in its examination of intimacy-- how to achieve it, why we suppress it, and how life is better when you embrace it. Also, when telling a story about a sex worker, there is going to be some sex.

Hyde has some tips for approaching intimate scenes on set. “If it’s not something you are comfortable with or in control of, get an intimacy coordinator. I do feel the way they work is very similar to how I work. For me, it’s always about consent and vision, and safety. Your actors have to be completely comfortable with each other, and again the value of an intimacy coordinator is they take away the abuse of power.”

Hyde continued with the idea of being extremely conscious of power dynamics on set: “As a director, some people just say, ‘take your clothes off, and do whatever you want, but it’s so much more valuable to completely ask for something and to give power to the actor, ensure they feel fully a part of something, and part of the creative vision. Allow the actor to say this is what I am comfortable doing. I think you all have to be very frank with each other, and if there is nudity know why and what it’s for… what we did on this, we came to a place where we understood the goal and where they were willing to go and why we went there.”

Emma Thompson’s Nancy is so fun to watch. She goes through such highs and lows in a matter of minutes, and her journey, while small, is lovely to see evolve. It would not be surprising if Thompson ends up on an Oscar shortlist for the role. “I could hear Emma’s voice in the very first script,” Hyde effused. “I was like, oh wow, even more so than I can imagine."

"The way she brings words to life really floored me. I mean, you expect to be impressed by her, but I really was, all the time, and still am. She really knew what she wanted to do with that character. We also changed the storyline from the original, the orgasm came in, and initially, there was no fourth meeting, and no Becky before. It’s important to see that she had changed in some way in her own life, not just with the other person.”

Hyde has also achieved such strong intimacy on screen that there is no feeling of voyeurism as the audience is instead invited to join Leo and Nancy in their hotel room. That’s likely because Hyde thought deeply about how she wanted to portray Leo.

“I am aware that sex work is being put on screen in limited ways. Leo is doing his job and doing it really really well. He’s a fully autonomous person who has chosen what he is doing to create intimacy, and not to fall in love. One of the most important things for me is that he is still doing his job."

She continues, "In our professional lives being paid for our work does not take away from the value of it. If you’re a director and you are getting really close to everyone making the work, and having a great time, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be getting paid for it. Sex work is a job that should have rules and regulations as any job does, but it’s often done in the shadows, which is all the more reason to shine a light on this work. Sex workers have stories, and only a small number and limited version of that is getting told. There’s such a broader range of stories to tell. This is just one, a very particular one, with a very particular person. There are millions of more stories out there.”

As one may expect in a story about intimacy the lines of professional and personal soon begin to blur. This is where Nancy and Leo both connect and start to fall apart. Under Hyde’s sure hand she ensures audiences will leave on an up note.

She mused on what she hopes audiences will take away, “I want people to feel free of the expectations that bind us, and free of the expectations we put on other people. To be able to choose to explore what you like, and what you want. They don’t have to be what’s being laid out for you in life. I think in the end both Leo and Nancy both feel great. They had a real connection. I just want people to feel good.”

In fact, you could say you might leave the movie feeling quite Grande.

Share

Save on Screenwriting Software Today!

Screenwriters want to write without worrying about formatting. Final Draft, the industry standard screenwriting software, is the tool the pros rely on. Make sure your script looks professional - save on Final Draft today!

Final Draft 12

FOR TV, FILM, & PLAYWRITING PROFESSIONALS

The brand-new Final Draft 12 includes over 100 templates for TV, film, and playwriting.
Shop Now

Final Draft 12

UPGRADE FROM ANY PREVIOUS VERSION

Own Final Draft 12 or earlier? Upgrade to Final Draft 12 and start enjoying all the new features at nearly 40% off the regular price.
Shop Now