Writer-star discussed how she worked with the late pop star to tell a big-screen story through his songs.
During a Monday appearance on The Tonight Show, the Oscar-winning entertainer revealed how the Paul Feig-directed romantic comedy — starring Emilia Clarke as a woman who, after taking a job as an elf at a department store, meets and falls for a man (Henry Golding) who changes her life — came together with the help of the late recording artist George Michael, whose 1984 hit (recorded as one half of the duo Wham!) shares the movie’s title.
“This wonderful producer, David Livingstone, said, ‘Do you want to write a screenplay, a rom-com sort of thing, because we need a new Christmas movie based on ‘Last Christmas,’ and I said, ‘Not really, because it’s not my favorite Christmas song,'” Thompson admitted, though she began devising the story with her husband, Greg Wise, and they discovered “an interesting, sideways way of telling a different kind of story about the human heart.”
Then, she sent a “good treatment” to Michael, and later met with him to talk about their plans to bring it to the big screen.
“He was just the loveliest guy you could imagine. [He loved] all of these themes in the movie, he was passionate about homelessness, and he had this great social conscience,” revealed Thompson, who also has a supporting role in the movie.
“I got really enthused and we started to write, and then of course he had that tragic early death in 2016, on Christmas Day,” Thompson continued. “So, we lost him, and I miss him so much. I wish he was here because I know he’d love it, because the film’s like being hugged, and all of his music — we’ve got 15 of his songs, including a new one at the end — is so cool. ‘Heal the Pain,’ which is my favorite of his songs, it’s like it was written for the movie. He said that.”
Last Christmas releases Nov. 8 in theaters. Watch Thompson discuss preparing for the film above.