Metro: Why Emilia Clarke was the perfect person to play Louisa in Me Before You
By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada
These days Jojo Moyes is a bestselling author with a movie adaptation about to hit screens.
But before she wrote her best-known book she says, “I had not troubled the bestseller charts.”
The former journalist, who has written 13 novels, hit publishing pay dirt with Me Before You, a romance about a young woman who has a life-changing relationship with a paralyzed man.
“I was driving my kids home from school,” says Moyes, “and I heard this story on the news about a young athlete who had been left quadriplegic after an accident.
“Several years into life as a quadriplegic he had persuaded his parents to take him to Dignitas, which is a centre for assisted suicide in England to end his life.
“I was just really shocked by this story because as a human and a parent I could not envisage how a parent would agree to do that.
“I kept thinking I would fight to the death to keep my kids alive. Because I am an ex journalist, I started to read around it and read more about this young man and read more about the issue and I discovered it wasn’t as black and white as I wanted to believe. Then it got me thinking, what would I be like if I were him? What would it be like to be his mother? What would it be like to be his girlfriend?”
The book sold north of 5 million copies and is now a movie starring Games of Thrones dragon lady Emilia Clarke. The 29-year-old actress plays the relentlessly cheerful Louisa, caregiver to quadriplegic Will, played by The Hunger Games star Sam Claflin.
“I read the amazing book first,” the effervescent Clarke says. “I was reading it to see if I wanted to be in it. In the first couple of pages of Lou (I thought) this is who I am. This is so much me in every way. Then there was the story itself and the beauty within it; the heartbreak, the joy and the laughter fell on top of one another and I just said yes.
“I understand (Louisa) innately because if things ever get too dire I’m going to crack a joke. We’re going to laugh through this. In those moments, at that peak when something bad has happened, and you’re like, ‘Let’s laugh about it,’ as you’re laughing you start crying.
She also says she had a rigorous rehearsal process with co-star Claflin, so she got to know her character and their story really well.
“When you’ve got all that knowledge someone only has to say one thing and you are there because you have built her within you. You’ve built the story around you.”
Moyes says finding the right person to play Louisa was important to not only the success of the film, but also to keep the fans of the book happy.
“I felt a huge responsibility to those people because it’s not like this has only been read by 20,000 people,” says Moyes.
“This is a much bigger thing. I will defy anybody to see Emilia as Lou and not feel this is a true representation of the character.
“When I picture Lou, I can’t help but picture Emilia. That is how fully she has taken root in my imagination.”