By DeWayne Hamby/

Animated films frequently dispense life lessons such as getting along with others or sharing, but the new AppleTV+ release Luck tackles a weightier topic in a lighthearted manner—what is the purpose of suffering?

Framed in the concepts of good and bad luck, the film centers on Sam, a young girl aging out of foster care who finds herself in a mythical land inhabited by black cats, leprechauns, rabbits, and more. The core of her journey, however, is fighting her way to getting a good “win” for her best friend. In the process of that, however, the frequently “unlucky” Sam discovers good days and bad days are both important.

“Sometimes when you look back in life, what seemed to be the worst bad luck ever actually led you to the best good luck ever,” said director Peggy Holmes. “It led you to a new opportunity. In our case, for Sam, it led her to love, which for me is the luckiest thing in the world: love.”

During the production process, Holmes, a veteran director of animated fare such as The Little Mermaid II: Ariel’s Beginning and Secret of the Wings, explored Sam’s backstory as an orphan. She and writer Kiel Murray met with real-life children who, like Sam, had aged out of the foster care system. Although their lives had been characterized by hardships, the two found a surprising amount of positivity and contentment.

“We were so taken by their positivity, their hopefulness, their desire to not give up, and their generosity,” she said. “They were so generous of heart. They understand the meaning of love in a massive way. When we spoke with them, we were just so honored and so inspired.”

The children who grew up in the system told the filmmakers they wouldn’t necessarily want others to live the kind of lives they did, with all of their ups and downs, but that they wouldn’t trade their journeys, because it brought them to where they were now: happy and content.

“That is so honest and true and relatable,” Holmes remembered. “(Kiel and I) were just like ‘That is the heart of the story. We don’t want to minimize bad luck, but it’s part of life.’ ”

As actors such as Simon Pegg, Whoopi Goldberg, Lil Rey Howery and Jane Fonda were approached for the story, with Holmes and Kiel recounting their experiences with the children, many of them were drawn to the idea of finding purpose in the pain as well as foster children finding their forever families.

“They were all 100% on board to put out this positive story, and put out something that could be inspirational,” she said.

Holmes remembers Fonda as “super curious,” following the storyboards and listening to pitches during the pre-production process: “She just took to it like a fish to water.” Pegg was always trying new things, asking “Is there another joke we could do?” And Goldberg, a “master at comedy,” kept improvising lines, “working them into the scene seamlessly.”

Holmes is excited for the story to reach “as many people as possible. That’s really so important to us.”