How Sex Workers Helped Good Luck To You, Leo Grande’s Daryl McCormack Improve His Character

For many years, sex work has been depicted in a very stereotypical sense in movies and television. In many cases, this particular line of work has been portrayed as being grimy and often only performed because the person providing the service had no other options. However, new Hulu release Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, provides a fresh take on the subject. One of the bright spots of the film is Daryl McCormack, who plays the titular role. The actor's work is very impressive and, as he explained, his character was improved with some help from real-life sex workers.

In the movie, Daryl McCormack plays the compassionate, sensitive, yet striking Leo Grande, a sex worker hired by a widowed school teacher played by Emma Thompson. In time, the unlikely pair help one another get in touch with different parts of their intimate selves. 

While speaking to CinemaBlend about his role in the new comedy, the actor, known for starring in the recently-concluded Peaky Blinders, explained that he learned a lot by listening to the experiences of real sex workers. He said: 

It was vitally important that we spoke to real sex workers. There's a beautiful exposition of the capacity of sex work in this film and I thought as an actor, I really did want to speak to sex workers and for me, it was just important that I listened to them and listened to their stories and naturally just who they were as people just really affected me. I was really inspired by their sense of self and the power and the boundaries that they've created to really add value in the work that they do. And so I just really wanted to carry that essence into Leo and let them just inspire my portrayal of him.

Director Sophie Hyde made sure that sex workers were consulted through every stage of the production of the comedy, and she also did “a lot of research” about the current state of the industry. As Daryl McCormack also said, via the movie’s production notes, he didn’t seek to represent all people within the profession, since they are so diverse. Still, it helped him to learn more about how to portray Leo Grande to the best of his ability. 

Co-star Emma Thompson also gave a great performance. The film establishes her character as having been without her husband for a couple of years and, as a result, she's feeling uncomfortable with her lack of experience in the sex department. This is due to the fact that he was her only partner ever and the sex was never very good. For the role, Thompson and co-star took part in nude and intimate scenes, which the actress found “challenging” at the age of 62

However, the director made them comfortable by disrobing with them before any other crew came on set and allowing them to create their “own space” before shooting the sequences. Thompson and McCormack talked to CinemaBlend about her experience doing these intimate scenes along with other topics.

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande premiered at Sundance early this year to high critical praise, and CinemaBlend also gave it a glowing review. Audiences seem to be equally enjoying the film too overall, per Rotten Tomatoes, and it is now available to stream with a Hulu subscription. Not only does the movie portray a sex worker in a new light, but it also sparks a necessary conversation regarding how society and sex are often disruptive of each other and share themes of empowerment and body positivity. 

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.