Movies

EXCLUSIVE: Director Paul Feig reveals the emotional connection between new film and George Michael

That was one of the loveliest things - getting to know and feeling like you're becoming best friends with George.

By Anita Lyons
Director Paul Feig has been at the helm of some of the most successful films in Hollywood.
From the epic comedy Bridesmaids, starring our very own Rose Byrne, to the incredibly successful Ghostbusters reboot with Chris Hemsworth, Paul has entertained audiences for years with his whip-smart direction and ability to amuse the masses.
His latest directorial venture Last Christmas (you can watch the trailer above), starring Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke, is no exception.
Starring Emilia, Henry Golding (A Simple Favour, Crazy Rich Asians), Michelle Yeoh and Academy Award winner Dame Emma Thompson, the romantic comedy is inspired by the great George Michael song of the same name.
But it's not just the classic Christmas tune which we get to hear. In fact, 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.
During an exclusive chat with Now to Love, Paul revealed that in a bitter sweet moment, George Michael himself was "aware of the project" before he died of natural causes on Christmas day in 2016.
The late, great George Michael. (Source: Getty Images)
"When Emma [Thompson] first signed on to do it, years ago now, she had talked to George," he said.
"She knew him and he was very into it and it was important for him to be."
In fact Thompson, who wrote the screenplay as well as starring in the film, had spoken with the pop star about "homelessness, which was one of his causes" and is a large element of the film.
"The sad thing is, he's just not around to see it," Paul said.
Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. (Source: Universal Pictures)
During the making of the film, Paul admitted that his love for the "pop star" grew deeper and deeper.
"I was always a fan of his but I just didn't know his whole catalog," Paul said.
"And also, I didn't appreciate him because I just knew of him as the "pop star", you know, Faith and Freedom and all that, but after doing a deeper dive into his catalogue and hearing these amazing vocal performances – some of the greatest vocal performances I've ever heard - it was suddenly going, 'Oh my God', not only was this guy a great pop star but an amazing singer and songwriter.
"That was one of the loveliest things - getting to know and feeling like you're becoming best friends with George."
Director Paul Feig and Dame Emma Thompson. (Source: Getty Images)
Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding in Last Christmas. (Source: Universal Pictures)
For Paul, this isn't your normal romantic comedy.
"It's about people in various stages of pain that they're dealing with, trying figure out how to get past it," he said, while adding that classic songs were "very hard wired" into the movie.
"The song Heal the Pain, which I would dare say is the best pop song ever written, it's really the kind of anthem for our movie.
"And that song is such a healing song and we use it a couple times with the cast actually kind of interacting with it in a way where they're actually singing it.
"It's just basically that, you know, Emilia Clarke's character loves George Michael.
"She wants to be a singer, and he's basically her hero, so he kind of supplies the soundtrack for her life."