Fans of tear-jerking romance movies may have found their match in the new film Me Before You, which brings together Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and The Hunger Games' Sam Claflin as two adorably charming star-crossed lovers. In the film, Clarke portrays Louisa Clark (no relation), a woman who isn't sure of where she's headed in life when she gets a new job as a caretaker for a paralyzed man, Will Traynor (Claflin), who wants to end his life. As she spends more time with Will, the two of them fall in love, learning more about who they are in the process. It's super emotional, of course, and fans are wondering: Is Me Before You based on a true story?
Although it seems pretty realistic, Me Before You is a work of fiction. It's actually based upon the 2012 novel of the same name written by Jojo Moyes. The plot is basically the same as in the film, and Moyes must have gotten the idea from somewhere. So was there a real life inspiration for the book? As it turns out, there were a couple. In a 2013 interview with Goodreads, Moyes revealed that both a member of her own family, as well as a story she saw on the news, helped inspire her to write the book.
"The thing that really informed it was a member of my family who suffers from a progressive disease," she said. "I have been involved in feeding her, taking her out, and that kind of thing. Part of what inspired Me Before You was just questions I had in my head about quality of life. At what point does the quality become meaningless? At what point do you give someone the right to decide for themselves?" This dilemma echoes the struggle of Will in the story, as he wants to die due to his disability's effect on his life.
The novel's other inspiration specifically inspired Will's character pretty directly, since he ended up being written as a once-adventurous and athletic type of person before he became disabled and lost his will to live. "There was one new story in particular that inspired it," Moyes said. "This young rugby player in England, who was about 23 years old, persuaded his parents to take him to [assisted-dying clinic] Dignitas after he'd spent several years as a quadriplegic following a rugby accident. I was so shocked by this story, because I couldn't believe a parent would take their own child to this place. I guess I was quite judgmental as well. The more I read up on it, the more I realized that these parents were in an impossible position because this young man had expressed a determination to fulfill his wish by any means. Being physical had been his whole life and some people are just going to refuse to adapt. They're just not going to do it."
Me Before You obviously has some pretty heavy themes going on, and although it's not based on any one true story, it was inspired by the real suffering and dilemmas of people with disabilities that Moyes had come across in her own life.
Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; Penguin Books