Why the Last Christmas movie's homeless theme was important to George Michael

23 December 2021, 14:35

Last Christmas uses the music of George Michael and Wham!
Last Christmas uses the music of George Michael and Wham! Picture: Getty/Universal

By Tom Eames

Last Christmas features the music of George Michael and Wham!, and is loosely based on the late singer's festive anthem of the same name.

The festive romcom stars Emilia Clarke as Kate, a child of Yugoslavian refugees, who is down on her luck and finds herself sofa-hopping at friends' flats.

Kate bumps into Tom (Henry Golding), a charming man who volunteers at a local homeless shelter and food bank.

The theme of homelessness in the UK flows throughout the movie, which was co-written by Emma Thompson (who also plays Kate's mother). This would have been particularly close to George Michael's heart, as he often got involved with helping those in need.

In the weeks after George passed away on Christmas Day 2016, it was revealed that he worked at a homeless shelter but chose to remain anonymous.

Read more: George Michael's secret acts of kindness and charity revealed

“George Michael worked anonymously at a homeless shelter I was volunteering at. I've never told anyone, he asked we didn't. That's who he was,” activist Emilyne Mondo wrote on Twitter.

Emma Thompson - who got George's blessing for the film several years before he died, told The Telegraph: “One of the saddest things about this film taking quite this long was that George died.

"It would have been so wonderful had he been around, because… he was very passionate, particularly about the issue of homelessness."

Read more: Which George Michael songs appear on the Last Christmas soundtrack?

Thompson's husband and co-writer Greg Wise added: “We wanted to… put together a story that, on the face of it, can be watched as a romantic comedy, but actually is about the proper use of a human heart [and] of one’s place within a society where… ‘the Other’ is being demonised.

"The Other can be anything really. Within our piece, it’s the homeless, it’s refugees. Our piece is set in 2016, just after the Brexit referendum. Our lead girl’s parents are refugees from the former Yugoslavia. Our romantic hero gentleman works in a homeless shelter.

"So it’s bringing together all the things we feel very strongly about… and telling that through a story of a girl who’s trying to work out how to live properly.”

Last Christmas also features a previously unreleased George Michael song titled 'This Is How' in the end credits.