After writing and directing Jump Tomorrow, Hopkins said, "I'd been attached to films that haven't happened, as a director. I've had scripts I've written that have almost happened." When Hopkins was being considered to direct the 2005 children's film Nanny McPhee, for which he was ultimately unsuccessful, he met with Emma Thompson, who had written the script and would star as the title character. After seeing her in a Broadway production opposite Dustin Hoffman, Hopkins decided to write a script to emulate the interpersonal chemistry which he had seen between the two actors. He has said that the story was inspired by one of his parents' friends who was ageing but still "finding his feet". Overall, Last Chance Harvey was received favourably by critics.