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Emma Thompson Explains Why Going Nude For New Movie Was Challenging As A 62-Year-Old Actress

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(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Many people would probably rather poke out their own eyes than do pretty much anything in front of strangers, and that would certainly include being fully naked. And yet, while we’ve seen a number of actors go fully nude on camera, that should not be taken as a sign that it’s ever really an easy thing to do for many of them. The same can be true for Emma Thompson, who’s recently revealed why it was so challenging for her to go nude in her new film as a 62-year-old actress.

In her upcoming movie, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Emma Thompson plays widowed school teacher Nancy Stokes, who decides to take charge of her sexual life by hiring a male escort for a date, in the hopes of having her first orgasm. Part of Nancy’s journey in the movie involves her learning to embrace and come to terms with her body, leading to Thompson’s full frontal nude scene. 

Why Was It Difficult For Emma Thompson To Do The Nude Scene In Her Upcoming Movie?

While chatting with Entertainment Weekly, Thomspon spoke about the extensive preparations she, her co-star, Daryl McCormack, and their director, Sophie Hyde, went through to prepare for the sex scenes in the dramedy, and why it was such a challenge for her to go nude, saying:

Sophie, Daryl, and I rehearsed entirely nude and talked about our bodies, talked about our relationship with our bodies, drew them, discussed the things that we find difficult about, things we like about them, described one another’s bodies. It’s very challenging to be nude at 62. [My character] stands in front of a mirror alone and she drops her robe. Nothing has changed in the dreadful demands made upon women in the real-world world but also in acting. This thing of having to be thin is still the same as it ever was, and actually in some ways I think it’s worse now.

WOW. If anything, some might see this as over-preparing, seeing as how we are used to hearing about actors who are about to film sex scenes / nude scenes only talking things over with an intimacy coordinator so that everyone is clear on what’s being shown and done, as well as being aware that they’re free to change their boundaries on what they’ll do at any time. 

The idea of Thompson, McCormack, and their director going fully nude for rehearsals sounds like a radical one, but they only had 19 days to film the entire movie. The Oscar winner noted that they wanted to make sure that she and McCormack could quickly achieve the needed level of comfort with each other, their own bodies, and each other’s bodies so that they could accurately portray their character’s intimacy on screen, so their nude rehearsal time was born.

As you might imagine, even though Thompson is a practiced pro at doing things like having an emotional breakdown on camera, she did have some tough moments while working in the nude. Not only is being naked on camera a challenge in and of itself, but we rarely see women of Thompson’s age baring all in movies, or even being shown as vibrant, sexually explorative characters, which she would likely see as part of the “completely shit” sexism of the industry that she’s talked about before. 

Like she said during her interview, there’s very much still pressure to be as thin as possible, to the point where Thompson once threatened to quit a movie after hearing a producer ask another actress to lose weight. I’m sure that even those with thin bodies can still be seen as less-than by some if they don’t also look as young as possible. As we all know, our bodies can (and usually do) change a lot as we age, and Thompson said that “we’ve got to be able to see real bodies on the screen” that haven’t been “worked on” so that they’re deemed socially acceptable. 

Being able to simply stand in front of a mirror naked without doing anything (like sucking in her stomach) to make her body look different isn’t something that Thompson had done before, and she said that she doesn’t believe that she would have been able to do it earlier in her career, even though her current age also made the process harder.

While teasing her work on this movie in early 2021, Thompson spoke about the very common disparity we so often see in movies (and on TV), where a male actor will be paired with a female love interest who’s many decades younger than him. This “completely and utterly unbalanced” standard, in turn, leads to older actresses like Thompson playing roles with no love interests, or with actors, as she joked, “they have to exume.”  

Emma Thompson also noted that this rehearsal process started almost immediately, and added that the “intensity” of their work on the movie went basically through the end of filming. But, she also said it was “a sort of very pure experience,” because even while filming it was just the three of them.  

We don’t know exactly when Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, will debut just yet, but it is poised to be yet another wonderful addition to the 2022 movie releases and could easily become one of the best movies on Hulu when it does premiere on the streamer! 

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