Last Christmas director Paul Feig on street artist STIK’s role in the film

Key scenes of Last Christmas take place in Phoenix Gardens, a park dominated by a mural by street artist STIK, who used to be homeless himself. Director Paul Feig explains how the image encapsulated the themes of the film

When I saw that mural, I thought this sums up the movie. I didn’t know the history of STIK, my editor told me the whole story about how he was homeless. I had already fallen in love with the imagery and then that just made it extra special. That mural represents people together – but they’re all haunted and separate, dealing with their own issues. But it’s also a redemptive piece of art too.

That’s kind of the entire movie. Here’s a woman who got a second chance at life after a catastrophic illness but she doesn’t know how to handle it. She’s blowing it a little bit, and it takes this guy coming into her life to help her see that.

Also the whole homeless aspect of the film. George Michael – homelessness was such a big issue for him that he wanted that included in the movie.

George, in one of my favourite songs that he does, Praying for Time, has a lyric – charity is a coat you wear twice a year. It’s true. Around the holidays you feel charitable but why shouldn’t that carry on throughout the year? Why can’t you feel that way all year?

DID YOU KNOW…

The Big Issue has inspired the launch of 120 street papers globally, including sister titles in Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

Like it or not London, you guys do Christmas fantastic. I’ve lived most of the last 40 years in Los Angeles. When you put up lights on strip malls and palm trees, you don’t exactly get into the Christmas spirit. Wherever you live you get tunnel vision. An outsider can appreciate that beauty.

This isn’t a Christmas movie – it’s not about Santa Clause’s brother – but Christmas is the emotional backdrop that helps create the healing that happens.

We’re in a very intolerant time. I never want to make a movie that’s political, but I want to make a movie that’s honest. You could not realistically do a story about immigrants in London and not touch on Brexit. We’ve got Trump back home, and that sentiment of nationalism, the wagons circling.

I’m not a religious person but I have faith in people. Even though there are plenty of examples of certain attitudes that make you lose heart, the vast majority of people are good and just want to get by, protect their families, have a happy life. That’s what bonds us all together and that’s what’s always going to overcome the terrible stuff – the bad ideologies, the intolerance that comes from self-interest and fear.

Last Christmas is out in cinemas now