Emma Thompson was characteristically frank about Hollywood’s double standard during a recent interview with the CultureBlast podcast. The “Nanny McPhee” star, who is also a prolific screenwriter, was talking about her upcoming film “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande,” which she said is a refreshing change of pace from the the typical Hollywood film about women who have romances with men decades older than themselves.
Directed by Sophie Hyde, “Leo Grande” is the story of a widow whose late husband had been an unsatisfying lover, so she decides to seek out a sex therapist in his early 20s.
Thompson’s character in the film says, “The only people willing to sleep with me are my age and I want to sleep with someone younger than me.” But it’s very rare for women to express that desire for a younger man onscreen, she says. “If I have someone playing opposite me in a romantic way, they have to exhume someone, because I’m 61 now,” she jokes.
“You get past 50 and you’re invisible.”
Meanwhile, she says that it’s completely acceptable for George Clooney to have an onscreen romance with someone who is 30 or 40 years younger than him. “It’s completely unbalanced,” she says.
But she holds out hope that the industry is changing. “If people aren’t averse to seeing someone who is 61 largely naked, with a very much younger person, it’s going to be very interesting. We’ve got to keep being brave.”
Thompson told podcast interviewer Farah Nayeri that she welcomes the efforts to make movie sets safer spaces since the Me Too movement. On “Leo Grande,” “We had to do a whole thing, somebody comes to talk to you about sexual harassment,” which she says is a good idea because a movie set has “such a powerful power structure and hierarchy.”
During shooting on the recent release “Last Christmas,” which Thompson co-wrote and starred in, “I had a big meeting with all the women and said ‘We are here to look after each other’,” she says.
Thompson made a strong statement when she quit the voice cast of the film “Luck” after Skydance hired John Lasseter as head of its animation division. “I didn’t understand why he was being hired,” she says. If a company is serious about changing the culture and still hires the animation executive, who was accused of sexual harassment, “It’s very clear that you don’t care.”
“It’s changing, but not nearly fast enough,” she says.