Emma Thompson Gets Honest About Filming Nude Scenes, And How Hulu’s Leo Grande Was Thankfully Different

With 40 years of acting experience under her belt, the incomparable Emma Thompson has been on a ton of film sets throughout the years. Four of those earned her Oscar nominations, and in many others she delivered memorable performances in the fabric of Hollywood. In the actress’ latest movie, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, Thompson gets especially vulnerable, emotionally and physically, and she got candid about how her recent experience compares to years prior. 

In the new Hulu release, Emma Thompson plays Nancy, a 60-something school teacher and widow who decides to hire a sex worker to get some and maybe finally orgasm for the first time in her life. For the film, the actress bares her skin to empower Leo Grande’s message of reminding women to love their own bodies at whatever age and not be afraid of sexual pleasure. When speaking to CinemaBlend about her experience, Thompson shared how the production made her and her co-star Daryl McCormack feel comfortable when baring it all. In her words (and also in the video above): 

We kind of all worked together to create the right atmosphere. One practical thing, for instance, that we did, was at the beginning of the process we all disrobed, [director Sophie Hyde], Daryl and I just to sort of get used to just standing in a room when we hadn't got clothes on. And that was a very useful thing to do and very touching and interesting. And then that's out of the way and you've done it so you don't worry about it. But, what we did was we came on set first, before any crew, before a camera, before sound and we got naked and just wandered around the set, making it our own – so that the crew then came into our space. It was our space and our atmosphere.

Going nude in front of a camera sounds like a daunting task, but it comes down to how a set handles these scenes to distinguish between a positive or harmful experience. When talking about being on the Leo Grande set, Emma Thompson also recalled her previous relations with showing skin on a set: 

It wasn't the thing that sometimes happens with nudity and scenes of intimacy, where the actors come on, tightly strapped into a robe, and I've done this, and the crew are all there. And then someone says, ‘Okay, robes off! Robes off!’ And you think, ‘Oh God, okay’. [Fakes panting]. But that's not how it was. Everything was ready, and then the crew came into our space and that worked really well.

Emma Thompson has previously talked about it being “challenging” to be nude at the age of 62. It’s not often Hollywood depicts leading women of this age, and certainly not in a movie focused on sexual awakening, but this is the beauty of Good Luck To You, Leo Grande. The critically-acclaimed indie explores something that feels fresh and rare in the Hollywood landscape. 

Thompson has spoken out before about how “unbalanced” it is when it comes to double standards in Hollywood and age. She’s talked about how someone like George Clooney can star alongside someone decades younger than him, and yet for women, it’s not deemed as acceptable. In Leo Grande, the actress stars alongside 29-year-old Daryl McCormack, who plays the sex worker Nancy hires. McCormack also spoke to CinemaBlend about the positive experience of being nude in the film:  

There’s something very powerful about that day when we explored all the intimate scenes in the film and all derobed together. It really built a safety net for all of us and when we got to those final moments in the film, I really felt like that day of rehearsal was really with us in the room and that was just an incredible experience to do that with your fellow creatives. It really felt like it belonged to us and that it was for us to explore and to enjoy.

McCormack’s character of Leo Grande is just as three-dimensional as Thompson’s character as the movie becomes the stage to discuss intimacy and sex in the modern age, and some of the misconceptions when it comes to this topic, along with depicting sex workers without the usual stereotypes. Good Luck To You, Leo Grande is now available to stream with a Hulu subscription

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.