Emma Thompson on “Good Luck, Leo Grande” Orgasm Gap

Photo: Scout Pictures

In her career prolific actress Emma Thompson Portrayed heroines on some of the most iconic big screens romancesfrom a movie based on Jane Austen classic Sensitivity and sensitivity modern classic love actually. Initially, her role was played by Nancy Stokes, a widow deprived of pleasure in Good luck to you, Leo Grandeon June 17 hollowsounds like more of the same—but what she found instead was fun and intimate, with herself and with the titular name Leo Grande, played by the gentle and dynamic Daryl McCormack, a sex worker with strong arms and strong boundaries.

The film relies heavily on dialogue, and is almost theatrical in its intimacy, and Thompson and McCormack perfectly reveal their scope as actors in well-paced exchanges that range from a string of flirtation to desperation. Their chemistry is so undeniable that it’s easy to forget that there is no true romance. What happens, without spoiling too much, is a human relationship that feels authentic and challenges both characters. Nancy, in particular, spends a good portion of the film winning her lifetime of socially approved wisdom with her raw actual desires.

This movie indulges in a fact that Hollywood loves to ignore: Women over 40 also enjoy sex. Is this intentional?

Well, let’s remember that this is the first time that Nancy has enjoyed sex. The movie is really about someone who didn’t enjoy sex until her early 60s, when she decided it was time to get involved with something else, opening up everything that prevented her. So it’s partly because women don’t think that enjoying sex is for them or important to them. We are not encouraged, necessarily, to think about what we might want. We are so busy thinking about what anyone else needs, or in a sexual situation, perhaps a performance, that a guy feels like he’s doing a good job because it’s all about them.

In the end, we realize that this is a woman whose ability to access and give her own pleasure was revealed, you know, by the good offices of this extraordinary and very humane young sex worker. But it is her responsibility after that. It’s a pleasure to watch, and it’s a great release.

So your character isn’t exactly a gender positive feminist. But she learns a lot from Leo. Did making this movie affect the way you think about sex work?

Well, I’ve always really thought that sex work should be legalized, totally. It’s the only way to make it safe. It is also the only way to organize what is a very uneven playing field. As Leo describes it – although he doesn’t represent all sex workers, she is a unique character – it’s a perfectly legitimate job. And when Sophie Hyde, the director, and Daryl McCormack, who plays Leo, spoke to the sex workers for the investigation, they said it was interesting how different they all were, some of them even like, “Yeah, it’s my job, it’s so boring sometimes, but it’s okay “. Then others said, “I love this job. I am really professional at this.” So it was like talking to anyone doing any work. It’s just so many different responses and reactions to it, and I find that very encouraging because I think it may be through sex work that we might be able to understand how important it is to respect our sexual desires.

Not only does the movie address the orgasm gap, but your character is actually responsible for her first orgasm. I was wondering if you could talk about why this detail is so important.

It was so important to all of us that it wasn’t Leo who would give her an orgasm. And indeed, one of the saddest things is not having oneself and not being able to give oneself a pleasure of its own, which is so healthy and satisfying, and free – you need nothing but yourself. It’s sad to think that she never made it through. It has nothing to do with her age; Many young women do not know. Female masturbation is a complete taboo. Nobody talks about it. But no one talks about periods. Nobody talks, you know, about menopause. So all things that happen to our bodies are just starting to get into the mainstream conversation now. And indeed, I don’t think this movie would have gone down quite the same way before the Me Too movement and this mainstream discussion of abuse, what is abuse and what is consent and what is disapproval. So I think there’s a lot of things that happened to make this movie part of a true zeitgeist moment.

The primary setting of the movie is a hotel room – what is your room service request?

Oh, well, I don’t have a regular. I ordered soup today. They have very good soup. But if I’m going to order a real treat, or to watch a movie or something, I’ll probably order fish and chips. I know this is very British. But it’s nice to ask for room service. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, you have a lot of ketchup and you put it on the sheets.

Your character is a teacher, and the way she talks to her students about sex has never been the best. What kind of sex talk did you have while growing up?

Not much, not because of any kind of sinister thing. It wasn’t just something that was discussed a lot. I think this is from a generation. I’m glad we talk about it more.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.