It's the most wonderful time of the year for Christmas movies—just ask Paul Feig.
The Bridesmaids director's latest film, Last Christmas, is a loveable rom-com inspired by the music of George Michael and stars Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding and Emma Thompson.
According to Feig, the holiday spirit was alive and well while shooting the movie last December surrounded by London's magical Christmas lights. The cast even exchanged gifts.
"I got a beautiful pair of cufflinks from Emma Thompson," the Spy director told E! News in Sydney. "Emilia Clarke made these Russian nesting dolls, and she painted them so it was myself, Emma, Henry and her, all of them nested together. It was one of the most touching gifts I've ever gotten."
In the film, Clarke plays chaotic Christmas store employee Kate, whose life changes in a heartbeat when she bumps into the charming Tom (Crazy Rich Asians' Golding). Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay, also stars as Kate's hilariously overbearing mother.
To mark the release of Last Christmas, we spoke to Feig, 57, about Christmas adaptations, what Blake Lively taught him about fashion, and his fondest memory directing The Office (as turns out, he gets choked up over the exact same moment we do).
Game of Thrones fans might not know that Emilia Clarke is actually hilarious. Why was the Mother of Dragons right for this rom-com?
I had met her four years ago in a general meeting, because I was such a fan of Game of Thrones. I expected she was going to be very Khaleesi, but she was so funny. She made me laugh and we would talk for an hour, just joking around. I ended up going, I have to get you in a comedy. So when this script popped up, I was like, this is the role that she can shine in.
What's the secret to Emilia and Henry Golding's on-screen chemistry?
They were friends the minute they met, and it just never stopped. Between takes they'd always be making each other laugh and they'd be singing songs. It comes across because they're two of the nicest people you've ever met.
Emma Thompson's script must have been a huge drawcard when joining this film too.
She dropped the script on me out of the blue and I pinched myself, like how did this happen? But then I talked her into being in it. She was originally not going to be in it. And then I was like, how am I going to have one of the greatest actresses of all time with me on set the whole time and then explain to somebody why she's not in the movie? So I said, Emma, you've got to play the mom. And she did.
Of all your films, what would you create a Christmas version of?
I think The Heat could use a good Christmas version. I'd like to see Mullins celebrating Christmas with her Boston family.
Could that be The Heat 2, then?
Someday, who knows…There is a script for the Heat 2, but as of now, not happening.
You also made A Simple Favour, which features Blake Lively and some incredible suits. What did you learn about fashion from Blake?
Blake is so inventive with her fashion, that's what I really love. She looked at me and she goes, I want to dress like you as this character. So we got a bunch of suits that Ralph Lauren sent us out of the archive, which was great. Then she and Renee Ehrlich Kalfus, my costume designer, took those suits and added all these things—the pins and the way that the tie is. She taught me you can really be inventive and you don't have to stick to the form once you have the actual shell of the suit. Then it's yours to create something with. Thanks, Blake!
You've directed so many classic episodes of The Office and there's always talk of a reunion. What's your fondest Office memory?
I loved working on that show. "The Dinner Party" is one of my favourites because it was so uncomfortable and everybody was so funny in that. But I really loved doing Pam and Jim's wedding, because that was really touching. I still get choked up when I watch that, between them dancing in the church and then them getting married on the boat and Niagara Falls. I have very fond memories of that show.
Did you know the wedding dance scene would become so iconic?
The funny thing about it was, we had a really full day and so by the time we got to that dance number, we were almost out of time. It was like, we've got 10 minutes to shoot this! I was in a panic because this is a big complicated number. We did two takes, but the take we used was the very first take. I was so choked up watching it, we were emotionally so pulled into it. We really felt that something special happened.
Last Christmas is in cinemas now.