Dame Emma Thompson has said she never conformed to the “shape or look” male film executives wanted to see naked as she reflects on her first on-screen nude scene in her new film.
In Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, the 63-year-old Oscar winner plays Nancy Stokes, a 55-year-old retired widow who hires a male sex worker to fulfil her aim of having an orgasm.
Created by screenwriter Katy Brand and director Sophie Hyde, the film tells the story of a retired RE teacher who seeks the adventure and human connection she was deprived of in her marriage.
The Love Actually star told The Times: “I’ve never really been offered sex scenes.
“As my mother said, I’ve basically played a series of ‘good’ women. I do ‘cerebral’.
“I have also never conformed to the shape or look of someone they might want to see naked. And by ‘they’, I mean male executives.
“I’m too mouthy, not pretty enough, not the right kind of body. And, crikey, you are constantly told what kind of body you have.”
She recalled how her body has been judged in the media over the years, adding: “I don’t think anyone realises quite how thin most actresses are in real life. They look quite unreal.”
Near the end of the comedy film, there is a moment when Nancy stands naked in front of a mirror and examines her body.
The actress admitted that she has never been able to do what her character does in that moment without judging her own body.
She said: “When I’m looking in the mirror, I’m always trying to make myself look ‘better’ – turning this way or that, checking out my arse, pulling something in.
“Simply revealing my utter incapacity to accept my body as it is.
“But in the movie, at that point, Nancy’s body has just given her these seconds of pure pleasure and she is marvelling at it – not ‘it’ as it looks, but ‘it’ as it has become to her.
“A place she can be happy. A place she can find genuine bliss.”
Dame Emma, who has been outspoken about feminist issues throughout her career, explained that she knew that she had to do this movie to explore the taboos relating to female sexuality and pleasure.
She added: “The energy that comes from one’s sort of perennial fury at what’s done in the world – to women in particular, but all injustice.
“It informs my decisions and my writing and everything I do. Maybe it would be nice to ignore it. But for me, it’s just not possible.”
Peaky Blinders star Daryl McCormack will play the role of Leo Grande, a sex worker in his 20s who is hired by Nancy.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande is released in cinemas on June 17.