Thea Sharrock has made her feature film debut with the Me Before You based on the critically acclaimed bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes. The movie follows Lou Clark and Will Traynor embarking on a series of adventures together and getting more than they bargained for when they find their lives – and hearts– changing in ways neither one could have imagined. With some big Hollywood names and readers all over the world eagerly anticipating its release on June 3rd, we caught up with director Thea Sharrock and asked how it felt to work on this epic romance movie.
With a rich background in theatre Thea has worked on some of the West End’s biggest productions such as The Sunshine Boys and The Bodyguard. Me Before You is her first ever feature film and we wondered what the toughest challenge is for a director transitioning from theatre to film. She may have worked with big names on the stage, Danny DeVito, Keira Knightly, but surely the pressures of days on site filming are of a different nature? She explains that the hardest part was “the endurance needed. When I stop and think about just how hard it was on a physical level, what you have to do for that length of time… It’s the equivalent of running a marathon when you’re used to doing 400 meters. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of 400 meters - sometimes 800 meters, if it’s a musical; but, by and large, it’s 400 meters, and you go as hard as you can, but that only lasts for that relatively limited time and then you get to press night and you’re done. But with film, it’s a marathon. And you’re carrying many more people who need answers all the time.”
It certainly sounds exhausting but with the right motivation and solid script, Thea has absolutely done it justice. We asked what attracted her to the movie in the first place. Turns out it was the very same thing that captivated us: the love story. She describes how the idea that falling in love with somebody can change your life and theirs forever is what drew her in, along with the characters themselves. “Their journey is universal and yet there is this very unique aspect of their story that allows it to stand apart, that I believe we have dealt with very gently and carefully, never passing judgment on.”
Everyone involved in Me Before You has described what a unique experience it was to be able to work alongside the author Jojo Moyes who actually adapted the script herself. She and Thea had spent about a year together before shooting began, exchanging ideas and discussing the script and so she entrusted Thea’s vision entirely. This understanding and collaboration radiates on the big screen and Thea says “[Jojo] stayed with me throughout the whole of the shoot; nearly every day she would be there, ready to respond to whatever was needed, which was incredible.”The way Thea talks about Me Before You utterly encapsulates the love and emotion that went into the movie at every stage. She had a very clear vision of the film from very early on, wanting it to be accessible; real, not gritty. She works hard on the escapism aspect from the beginning right through until the end, concentrating on how it grows. She beautifully describes how “as Sam’s character starts to go outside, there’s a bit more breath, and by the time they go away, I wanted it to feel even bigger: beautiful empty skies that meet the horizon of the sea. And then, by the time you go to Switzerland and then to Paris, I wanted it to feel that we were taking in a whole new world.” Experience Thea Sharrock’s vision of Jojo Moyes’ novel and lose yourself in Me Before You, out in cinemas nationwide from June 3rd.