26 October 2019 00:36
Emilia Clarke (HBO's Game of Thrones), Henry Golding (A Simple Favor, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson star for director Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Spy, Bridesmaids) in Last Christmas, a romantic comedy inspired by George Michael's festive hit song. Kate (Emilia Clarke) harumphs around London, a bundle of bad decisions accompanied by the jangle of bells on her shoes, another irritating consequence from her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Tom (Henry Golding) seems too good to be true when he walks into her life and starts to see through so many of Kate's barriers. As London transforms into the most wonderful time of the year, nothing should work for these two. But sometimes, you gotta let the snow fall where it may, you gotta listen to your heart … and you gotta have faith.
Last Christmas features the music of George Michael, including the bittersweet holiday classic of the film's title. The film will also premiere brand new unreleased material by the legendary Grammy-winning artist, who sold more than 115 million albums and recorded 10 No. 1 singles over the course of his iconic career. In UK Cinemas 15 November. The script for Last Christmas hadn't even landed on Henry Golding's desk before he said yes to the project. To be convinced to take the role, all he needed to see was who was directing it.
"Paul Feig," were the magic words, he shares. "Paul and I worked together on A Simple Favor, and we were actually on the tail end of doing promotion for that film in New York and he was like, 'Oh, I want to talk to you about a project that I want you for. I think you're perfect for this role.' It didn't take much to convince me, for sure." When Golding saw who would be writing the screenplay, the deal only got sweeter. "Emma Thompson," he says. "She is an amazing human being. So intelligent, so energetic. She was on set pretty much every single day. Every day that we'd come on, it'd be huge hugs at 3:00 in the morning. We'd have to film most evenings because we had to use all the Christmas lights and stuff in London."Given the film, Last Christmas, is this year's festive addition from Hollywood and that it was set in London, in order to make it happen the crew actually had to shoot in December of 2018, when all of the twinkling Christmas lights and decorations were already up in the city. "The only time we could do that was from like 1:00am, onwards, to sunrise," Golding says. "It was many hours on cold streets in London," he laughs. Last Christmas, the brainchild of yes, writer and producer Emma Thompson, and director and producer, Paul Feig, is a romantic comedy that sits within the Christmas movie genre, which was inspired by the music of George Michael. Of course, the film takes its title from the hit Christmas song by Michael's Wham!, but in reality, the entire film was constructed around the late musical icon's greatest hits. "It came from Emma's relationship – she and George, when he was still alive. The story goes that they were at a dinner one time, and they were sitting talking about the project. Emma and her husband wanted to do something for George. And, I think they managed to sort of ask his permission to write something about one of his songs, and I think he gave them that permission from the start. That was a huge cog in the works for many years before this got the green light," Golding shares, adding that he himself is a "big George Michael fan" which only made this project even more attractive. "George Michael's family kept his word and so we have this amazing back catalogue of his music, and also unreleased music, that we were able to use." Golding, 32, joins the film off the back of both A Simple Favor and Crazy Rich Asians, the latter of which propelled him to stardom when it was released last year. The English actor, who was born in Malaysia and now resides in Los Angeles, admits that his life has indeed changed since the release of the film, based on the novel by Kevin Kwan. "It's been a massive change. I mean, entering into the industry, like Hollywood, with a film like Crazy Rich Asians has opened many doors, especially in future film projects." Last Christmas is the latest project and interestingly enough, Golding also shares the film with his fellow Crazy Rich Asians co-star, Michelle Yeoh. "We don't share too many scenes," Golding admits. "There was only a couple days that we were on set together. But she is so funny in it. It kind of came about after Crazy Rich Asians, I moved on to A Simple Favor with Paul and we filmed in Toronto, where Michelle was actually filming Star Trek at the time. I introduced them, and they've been best buddies ever since. And he's like, 'I have to have you in my next movie. Whatever project I have, I'd love to work with you.' And, this was the next project – Paul is a man of his word." Starring alongside Golding in the rom-com is Game of Thrones alum Emilia Clarke. "She's the best," Golding said of his 33-year-old English co-star. "She is full of energy. There wasn't a day that she had off. That was a huge undertaking herself, through the worst time of year and she stayed super strong. She's such a joy to work with her. I'd work with her any day of the week. She deserves all the success in the world. She's such a sweetheart and I think it's her true personality [that] comes out [in the film]." In Last Christmas, Clarke plays Kate, a woman who takes a job as a department store elf during the festive season. A classic meet cute occurs when Tom, played by Golding, walks into the store (run by Michelle Yeoh's character) but that is about where the traditional narrative arc of a rom-com ends. "It takes people on a lovely journey," Golding said. "It's something totally different, but it gives you the ultimate Christmas feeling – positivity, and love. There's a little bit of magic involved, which I think is huge. It's a great Christmas movie, I think." As for what it's been like to go from being fairly unknown to becoming a fully-fledged Hollywood heartthrob in the past year, Golding says, there's certainly been "a shift" in his life. "It's one of those rare jobs that people on the street will come up to you and give you feedback," he explains. "It can be good, it can be bad. It depends on the work. But, it's amazing, the amount of positive feedback we've gotten for these projects. It's definitely a shift in my life, but it's one that I'm happy to take." For him, it's also an indicator that he's choosing the right projects. "People want a sense of hope, they want a sense of love, and enjoyment, and a movie that makes you feel good," he shares of his resume, which does happen to have a number of rom-coms on it. "They want a little peek into a reality, and wish fulfillment … And leaving the cinema in love with the characters, or in love with an idea [of them]." He's also well aware that his involvement in these movies has helped to shift the topic of diversity in rom-coms in the right direction. "People relate to a person's situation, so you don't have to be your atypical actor, or leading person. It's normalising leading women, and leading men, and having them in all shapes, sizes, colours, creeds, backgrounds. That's what I was looking for [with Last Christmas]. And Golding, who names his favourite Christmas films as The Grinch That Stole Christmas and Elf, warns the audience to expect the unexpected with this film. "There's been a lot of people like, 'Oh, it's the next Love Actually." Love Actually is such a legendary movie, and I think this is going to be the first Last Christmas." Last Christmas is in cinemas November 7. Merry Christmas!