As ‘Luck’ Would Have It: A Chat With Peggy Holmes (Video Interview)
“Humans are obsessed with luck,” says Luck director Peggy Holmes (The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Secret of the Wings) as she describes the concepts at play in Skydance Animation’s first animated feature.
INBTWN Animation, the exclusive online event partner of Cartoon Brew, caught up with Holmes to speak about the production, her personal inspiration, and the overall narrative approach to the film, which debuts today on Apple TV+.
Watch the conversation here:
Luck was in development for some time before Holmes came on board. When approached to direct the film, she remembers looking over the initial concept before she and her team “basically redid the whole movie.”
Holmes says that two components of the original project did make it through to the finished movie, however. “One was that the lead character was in foster care. And the other was that there was a leprechaun.” From there, she decided to dig into the pairing and “maybe take that and blow it up, and create a whole world that we never knew existed before.”
As this was Skydance’s first feature-length animated film, Holmes worked closely with the executive creative team, including studio chief John Lasseter.
“He is a master storyteller,” she points out. “I think one of the things that’s so amazing about working with John is he has this ability to become an audience member… John has this ability to listen and watch something like an audience member as if he never knew anything about this story. And it’s an amazing, amazing tool and partner to have right because he can react in a way that’s fresh.”
“Luck” is a universal concept with multiple understandings across the globe, so the team had to take that into account. “There’s so much material about what ‘luck’ is out there,” says Holmes, “so I read a ton of it and one thing became very clear to me, which is this idea that luck is random for us humans. You cannot create it; you don’t know when it’s coming.”
A huge part of the random element of luck is timing, so the Luck team designed the concept of its cinematic world around that idea. Luck’s Land of Luck, a fictitious world in which all human fate is decided, is full of mechanical contraptions and ledges that drop off into the distance. Characters walk backwards onto moving plates without fear of tripping, because, as Holmes explains, “If you are a good luck creature and you only have good luck, you don’t need guardrails; you don’t need to look where you’re going.”
Since “good luck” and “bad luck” are two sides of the same coin, Luck’s production team also had to design a world of bad luck and dig deeply into the concept of what bad luck means, and what effect it has on the Luck universe. “We didn’t want to minimize bad luck,” says Holmes, “because there are people that have real bad luck in their lives.”
As part of the team’s research, they reached out to young adults who had experiences similar to those of 18-year-old main character and foster child, Sam. According to Holmes, many of their sources “had experienced living in the foster care system and had aged out and were alone in the world.”
To gain a better understanding of their “luck,” Holmes and her team interviewed them extensively. “They were so positive,” she recalls, “despite their real bad luck in life… And they worked very hard and they were very generous of heart. [We] were just so touched by them and inspired by them. That was a big guide for us on the emotional arc of the story.”
At the end of the day, Holmes boils her experience on the film down to a simple message: “This story is called Luck, but for me, the story is all about love.”