How Last Christmas Director Paul Feig Incorporated So Many George Michael Songs

Emilia Clarke and Emma Thompson on Last Christmas

With Halloween in the rear view, the time has come to look forward to the Holiday Season. And with each new year comes new Christmas-themed content, including big movie releases. This year's feel good comedy hitting theaters in Paul Feig's Last Christmas, named after the George Michael song of the same name. But that Christmas classic isn't the only song from Michael's catalogue in the new holiday classic. In fact, he's the soundtrack to the entire movie, and Paul Feig recently explained exactly how that came to be.

I had the chance to speak with Paul Feig ahead of the release of Last Christmas, and peeled back the curtain of the holiday romantic comedy. The movie's soundtrack is killer thank to the tracks by George Michael, so I asked Feig what the process of selecting the songs was like. And it turns out Last Christmas wasn't always going to have so much music. As he explained:

It happened and grew organically. Because the movie is based on “Last Christmas”, so you know you’re going to hear that song. There was places in the script where Emma [Thompson] wrote ‘We’re watching the walk around London, it would be really nice to hear a little George.’ So those were there, but it was non-specific. And then the estate of George had us watch this two hour documentary about his life that George had directed for the BBC.

Emma Thompson wrote the script for Last Christmas, in addition to having an onscreen role as Emilia Clarke's mother. And throughout the screenplay, she indicated places that a George Michael song might fit. But it wasn't actually part of the plan to have so many tracks from his catalogue in theatrical cut. But that changed when Paul Feig watched a documentary about the musician ahead of filming.

Related: Did Emilia Clarke's Real-Life Health Struggles Inspire Her To Sign On For Last Christmas?

Paul Feig told me how the documentary George Michael: Freedom opened up his eye to the iconic singer's life, as well as his songs that might not have become iconic singles. After watching that doc, he was inspired to put more of Michael's songs into Last Christmas. As Feig put it:

I said wait a minute, I think George needs to be the voice of this movie. And then started doing the deeper dive into the other tracks of his albums that I hadn’t heard before. That’s when I discovered ‘Heal the Pain’ which to me is almost more of the theme song of this movie than ‘Last Christmas’. Because it’s so much about what this character, and what these characters were going through. Trying to heal their pain in whatever way they can. And ‘Praying for Time’ and going ‘Gosh, that’s the song they should have their date at the skating rink to.’ Not some romantic song, but this darker, ominous, but beautiful song about running out of time.

Well, that's certainly fascinating. Paul Feig's comments show how movies develop and grow over time. That includes the Emilia Clarke-led Last Christmas, which slowly became a love letter to the late George Michael. Having seen the final cut, every single song in the movie is from Michael's discography. What's more, the music is a real high point of the moviegoing experience of the romantic comedy.

Last Christmas hits theaters on November 8th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.