Emma Thompson


Actor
Emma Thompson

About

Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
April 15, 1959

Biography

With her uncanny ability to combine humor and poignancy, actress-writer Emma Thompson rose from the London stage to international film and television acclaim. Alongside her then-husband, revered Shakespearian actor-director Kenneth Branagh, she impressed with early film work in such projects as "Henry V" (1989) and "Dead Again" (1991). Thompson was touted as one of the finest actresses o...

Family & Companions

Hugh Laurie
Companion
Actor. Dated while at Cambridge.
Kenneth Branagh
Husband
Actor; director. Married in 1989; announced separation in October 1995; divorced.
Greg Wise
Companion
Actor. Met during filming of "Sense and Sensibility"; together since 1995; married July 2003.

Biography

With her uncanny ability to combine humor and poignancy, actress-writer Emma Thompson rose from the London stage to international film and television acclaim. Alongside her then-husband, revered Shakespearian actor-director Kenneth Branagh, she impressed with early film work in such projects as "Henry V" (1989) and "Dead Again" (1991). Thompson was touted as one of the finest actresses of the day after her performances in the Merchant Ivory productions, "Howard's End" (1992) and "The Remains of the Day" (1993), the former of which earned her a Best Actress Oscar. More accolades came for her roles in the riveting IRA drama "In the Name of the Father" (1993), opposite Daniel Day Lewis, and "Sense and Sensibility" (1995), where her double duty as screenwriter earned her another Academy Award. The actress was soon in high demand for such U.S. productions as the political satire "Primary Colors" (1998) and masterful adaptations of the revered stage dramas "Wit" (HBO, 2001) and "Angels in America" (HBO, 2003). The incredibly adroit Thompson took on leading roles in fantasy films like "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004), "Nanny McPhee" (2005) and "Beauty and the Beast" (2017), as well as more adult fare including the existential whimsy of "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006), Hollywood biopic "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013) and comedy-drama "A Walk in the Woods" (2015). Through it all, her puckish wit and sly self-confidence made her one of the world's most endlessly quotable movie stars.

Born on April 15, 1959, Thompson was raised in the Paddington section of West London. With stage director, actor, and television producer Eric Thompson for a father and Scottish actress Phyllida Law for a mother, Thompson grew up well-versed in the entertainment business, surrounded by creativity. Her first pursuit was writing, but while studying at Cambridge, she joined the school's famed Footlights sketch comedy group where she wrote and performed alongside future big names Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. She also appeared with the university's all-female troupe, Woman's Hour. Thompson, Fry and Laurie landed a short-lived TV variety show, "Alfresco" (1983), and when Thompson struck out on her own, she won rave reviews for her West End musical debut opposite Robert Lindsay in the 1985 revised version of "Me and My Girl." She co-starred with Kenneth Branagh in the World War II-set drama series "Fortunes of War" (BBC, 1986-87) and with Robbie Coltrane in the cult classic about a Scottish rock band, "Tutti Frutti" (BBC, 1987). She wrote and starred in her own 1988 BBC comedy-variety TV series, "Thompson," and made her film debut as Jeff Goldblum's leading lady in the underrated "The Tall Guy" (1989).

Thompson married fellow thespian Kenneth Branagh and the pair joined forces in the Renaissance Theatre Company, appearing in "Look Back in Anger," "King Lear" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Such was the pair's chemistry and acclaim, they began earning comparisons to the former first couple of British theatre, Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Branagh cast her as Princess Katherine in his 1989 film "Henry V" and as an amnesiac haunted by nightmares of a past murder in the 1991 romantic melodrama "Dead Again." Her strong performance as the forthright heroine of the Merchant-Ivory production "Howards End" (1992), however, catapulted her to stardom, sans Branagh. More than holding her own against strong actors Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, and Helena Bonham Carter, Thompson received a Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe Award, coming out of seemingly nowhere for American audiences. The following year, she earned dual Academy Award nominations as Best Actress for her turn as a housekeeper in love with a repressed butler (Hopkins) in another Merchant-Ivory adaptation, "The Remains of the Day" (1993) and a Best Supporting Actress nod for her no-nonsense barrister representing a youth accused of involvement in an IRA bombing (Daniel Day-Lewis) in "In the Name of the Father" (1993). The same year, she and Branagh threw sparks as Shakespeare's witty and warring lovers Beatrice and Benedick in Branagh's adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993). In an attempt to bank on Thompson's positive reception among U.S. audiences, she was cast in a comic lead opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito in "Junior" (1994), but the sub-par material failed to launch her as a mainstream American commodity.

Returning to period dramas, Thompson followed up with back-to-back starring roles - first in "Carrington" (1995), which cast her in the title role of the Bloomsbury painter who had a long platonic relationship with writer Lytton Strachey. "Sense and Sensibility" (1995) was a dream project for the actress, who had long talked of penning the screenplay. Directed by Ang Lee, the results proved it as one of the year's best films, earning Thompson a Best Actress Academy Award nomination and a statuette for her witty script. Amidst rumors of professional egos clashing, Thompson and Branagh divorced shortly thereafter. The actress spoofed her image on a memorable episode of the sitcom "Ellen" (ABC, 1994-98), playing a lesbian British actress named 'Emma Thompson,' who decided to disclose her homosexuality at an awards banquet. The laughs came when she revealed she was not really British, but from America's heartland and had only acquired the accent from "watching Julie Andrews' films." Thompson next co-starred in Alan Rickman's directorial debut, "The Winter Guest" (1997) with her mother, actress Phyllida Law. Her performance as a photographer grieving the death of her husband and coping with her mother's interference was a strong one, allowing her to display aspects of her talents that had not yet been seen onscreen before.

Mike Nichols tapped Thompson to play the ambitious wife of a womanizing presidential candidate in the critically praised "Primary Colors" (1998), after which she reunited with Rickman to play an FBI agent in the thriller "The Judas Kiss" (1998). After time out for motherhood and a chance to concentrate on her writing, Thompson made a triumphant return to the screen playing a rigid college professor stricken with cancer in the HBO adaptation of "Wit" (2001). Additionally, she collaborated with director Mike Nichols on the script, based on the Pulitzer-winning play, which earned Emmy nominations for both. In one of her more successful contemporary comedic offerings, Thompson was part of the large ensemble cast of writer-director Richard Curtis' multi-story romantic comedy "Love Actually" (2003), where she played the sister of the British Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), whose husband (Alan Rickman) contemplates straying. The actress next earned enormous praise for her role in the ensemble of the acclaimed HBO miniseries "Angels In America" (2003), playing the multiple roles of The Angel of America, Nurse Emily and The Homeless Woman. She was ultimately nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. Thompson also enjoyed an amusing, if all-too-brief, turn as the prescient but preoccupied Professor Sybil Trelawney in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004).

In "Nanny McPhee" (2005), a children's fantasy Thompson adapted from Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda book series, Thompson starred as a snaggle-toothed nanny with magical powers who arrives at the stately home of a recent widower (Colin Firth) who has problems disciplining his seven troublemaking children. "Nanny McPhee" received strong praise from critics, particularly in regards to Thompson's clever and appealing script, but the film did middling business at the box office. The following year, Thompson gave an outstanding performance in the offbeat "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006), where she co-starred as an eccentric novelist whose work-in-progress turns out to have a real-life counterpart - a staid IRS agent (Will Ferrell) whose life is disrupted by the author's narrations in his head. Following a cameo as a doctor in the Will Smith blockbuster "I Am Legend" (2007), Thompson donned the prosthetics to play an elderly Lady Marchmain in a British film version of "Brideshead Revisited" (2008), which received positive notices but enjoyed only limited release stateside.

Continuing her strong run of performances, Thompson reunited with "Stranger" supporting player Dustin Hoffman in "Last Chance Harvey" (2008), a romantic drama that found the pair cast as unsatisfied middle-agers whose lives change after a chance meeting at an airport bar. Once again in her illustrious career, Thompson found herself in award contention after her performance earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical category. Thompson's next pair of releases were both 1960s-set British comedies, the Nick Hornby-scripted "An Education" (2009) and "The Boat That Rocked" (2009), a look at England's once-thriving offshore pirate radio stations. Meanwhile, she once again donned her bulbous prosthetic nose and came to the rescue of another dysfunctional family-in-need for the sequel "Nanny McPhee Returns" (2010), which found her watching over an unruly brood in wartime Great Britain.

On television, Thompson delivered yet another sublime performance, this time opposite Alan Rickman in "The Song of Lunch" (BBC, 2010), the tale of a bittersweet reunion between two lovers told almost entirely with a poetic monologue narrated by Rickman. The actress was next seen for the last time as the prophetic Professor Trelawney with a cameo in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (2011), the final entry in the record-breaking fantasy franchise. The following year, Thompson appeared opposite Will Smith as Agent O, the new chief of the super-secret MIB agency in "Men in Black 3" (2012), in which Agent J (Smith) travels back in time to prevent his partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), from being erased from the current reality with the help of the 1969 version of Agent K (Josh Brolin). From one highly-anticipated feature to another, Thompson gave voice to a Scottish queen whose fate is in the hands of her headstrong young daughter (Kelly Macdonald) in Pixar's animated coming-of-age adventure "Brave" (2012), while on the small screen she earned an Emmy Award nomination in 2012 for her performance as woman reunited with her former lover (Alan Rickman) in "The Song of Lunch" (PBS, 2011). Following a supporting role in the romantic teen fantasy "Beautiful Creatures" (2013) and the divorce comedy "The Love Punch" (2013), opposite Pierce Brosnan, Thompson starred as author P.L. Travers in "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013), a fact-based story of the making of "Mary Poppins" with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. She next wrote and co-starred in period drama "Effie Gray" (2014) and played Catherine Bryson, the British-born wife of real-life American humorist Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) in "A Walk in the Woods" (2014), based on Bryson's memoir of his travels on the Appalachian Trail. Thompson next co-starred in comic thriller "The Legend of Barney Thomson" (2015) and kitchen-life drama "Burnt" (2015) before starring in World War II drama "Alone in Berlin" (2016). Thompson co-wrote the screenplay for "Bridget Jones' Baby" (2016) as well as appearing as the title character's long-suffering OB/GYN. Thompson next took over the role Angela Lansbury made famous in Bill Condon's live-action "Beauty and the Beast" (2017).

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Dolittle (2020)
Voice
Late Night (2019)
Last Christmas (2019)
Missing Link (2019)
Voice
Men in Black: International (2019)
The Children Act (2018)
Performer
Johnny English Strikes Again (2018)
Alone in Berlin (2017)
The Meyerowitz Stories (2017)
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Sea Sorrow (2017)
Bridget Jones' Baby (2016)
The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson (2016)
Effie Gray (2015)
A Walk in the Woods (2015)
Burnt (2015)
Love Punch (2014)
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Brave (2012)
Voice
Men in Black III (2012)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
Fatal Promises (2009)
Herself
Pirate Radio (2009)
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
Last Chance Harvey (2008)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Nanny McPhee (2006)
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Professor Sybil Trelawney
Imagining Argentina (2003)
Cecelia Reuda
Love Actually (2003)
Treasure Planet (2002)
Wit (2001)
Maybe Baby (2000)
Druscilla
An Education (2000)
Primary Colors (1998)
Winter Guest (1997)
Frances
Carrington (1995)
Dora Carrington
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Junior (1994)
The Remains Of The Day (1993)
In the Name of the Father (1993)
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Howard's End (1992)
Peter's Friends (1992)
Maggie
Impromptu (1991)
Dead Again (1991)
The Tall Guy (1989)
Henry V (1989)
Tutti Frutti (1987)
Suzi Kettles

Writer (Feature Film)

Last Christmas (2019)
Story By
Last Christmas (2019)
Screenplay
Bridget Jones' Baby (2016)
Screenplay
Effie Gray (2015)
Screenplay
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
Screenplay
Nanny McPhee (2006)
Screenplay
Wit (2001)
Screenplay
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Screenplay

Producer (Feature Film)

Last Christmas (2019)
Producer
Sold (2015)
Executive Producer
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
Executive Producer

Music (Feature Film)

Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Song Performer
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Song Performer
Brave (2012)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Annie (2014)
Other
Fatal Promises (2009)
Other
My Father the Hero (1994)
Other

Cast (Special)

The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (2001)
Presenter
The 68th Annual Academy Awards (1996)
Presenter
The Blue Boy (1994)
The 66th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1994)
Presenter
The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1993)
Performer
1993: A Year at the Movies (1993)
50th Annual Golden Globe Awards (1993)
Performer
The Winslow Boy (1990)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Angels in America (2004)
The Judas Kiss (1999)
Look Back in Anger (1993)

Life Events

1979

Acted with Cambridge University's theatrical club the Footlights

1981

Co-wrote, co-produced, co-directed and performed with Cambridge's first all-female revue "Woman's Hour"

1983

Worked with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in sketch comedy series "Alfresco"

1984

Wrote and performed one-woman show "Short Vehicle" at the Edinburgh Fringe

1985

Co-starred opposite Robert Lindsay in hit West End musical "Me and My Girl"

1987

Starred with Robbie Coltrane in six-hour BBC miniseries "Tutti Frutti"

1987

Played Harriet Pringle opposite Kenneth Branagh in BBC miniseries "Fortunes of War"

1988

Hosted and wrote own BBC-TV comedy-variety series "Thompson"

1989

Cast opposite Kenneth Branagh in stage revival of "Look Back in Anger"; directed by Judi Dench

1989

Made film debut in "The Tall Guy"

1989

Acted role of Katherine in "Henry V"; again directed by Branagh, who also co-starred

1992

Made memorable guest role on NBC sitcom "Cheers" as Nanny Gee, a woman from Dr. Frasier Crane's past

1992

Breakthrough screen role, co-starring with Anthony Hopkins in Merchant-Ivory production "Howards End"

1993

Received an Oscar nomination for her role as the lawyer for the Guildford Four in Jim Sheridan's "In the Name of the Father"

1993

Earned an Oscar nomination for her performance as a housekeeper in Merchant-Ivory's "The Remains of the Day"; again co-starred with Hopkins

1994

Played a rare comic lead in "Junior" opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger

1994

Starred in British TV drama "The Blue Boy"; first collaboration with mother Phyllida Law, who played her on-screen mother

1995

Made screenwriting debut with adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility," directed by Ang Lee; also co-starred

1997

Appeared on ABC sitcom "Ellen" as a British actress named 'Emma Thompson' who reveals she is a lesbian from Ohio

1997

Played on-screen mother and daughter opposite her real-life mother in "The Winter Guest," directed by Alan Rickman

1998

Cast as the wife of a presidential candidate (John Travolta) in Mike Nichols-directed "Primary Colors"

2001

Returned to acting in Mike Nichols' TV adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Wit" (HBO), playing a professor who develops ovarian cancer; also co-wrote screenplay with Nichols; earned Emmy nominations for writing and acting

2003

Re-teamed with Nichols to play the Angel in HBO miniseries adaption of "Angels in America"; earned SAG and Emmy nominations

2003

Starred in Richard Curtis' directorial debut "Love Actually"

2004

Cast as Sibyl Trelawney, the ethereal and quirky professor of divination in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"

2006

Voiced the narrator dictating Will Ferrell's life in Marc Forster comedy "Stranger Than Fiction"

2006

Played a governess who uses magic to rein in the behavior of seven ne'er-do-well children in "Nanny McPhee"; also wrote screenplay

2007

Reprised role of Professor Sybill Trelawney in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

2008

Co-starred with Dustin Hoffman in romantic comedy "Last Chance Harvey"

2010

Reprised title role and wrote screenplay for family comedy sequel "Nanny McPhee Returns"; also executive produced

2010

Earned a Grammy nomination for narrating <i>Nanny McPhee Returns</i>

2011

Reprised role of Professor Sybill Trelawney for seventh and final installment "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," directed by David Yates

2012

Cast in "Men in Black III" opposite Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones

2012

Voiced Queen Elinor in Disney Pixar animated feature "Brave"

2013

Cast in dual role as Mrs. Lincoln and Sarafine in feature adaptation of young adult fantasy novel "Beautiful Creatures"

2013

Starred with Pierce Brosnan in the comedy "The Love Punch"

2013

Starred as "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers opposite Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks"

2014

Wrote and co-starred in period drama "Effie Gray"

2015

Co-starred with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in "A Walk in the Woods"

2016

Portrayed Dr. Rawlings in "Bridget Jones's Baby"

2017

Voiced Mrs. Potts in Bill Condon's live-action Disney remake "Beauty and the Beast"

2017

Co-starred with Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman in the critically acclaimed comedy drama "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)"

2017

Co-starred with Stanley Tucci in Richard Eyre's "The Children Act," based on the novel by Ian McEwan

2018

Played the British Prime Minister in Rowan Atkinson vehicle "Johnny English Strikes Again"

2019

Lent her voice to Laika's stop-motion adventure "Missing Link"

Photo Collections

Remains of the Day - Movie Poster
Remains of the Day - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Remains Of The Day, The (1993) - Dignity In Keeping... Mr. Stevens the younger (Anthony Hopkins) holding forth at the servants' meal with Charlie (Ben Chaplin), Mr. Stevens senior (Peter Vaughan) and Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) in The Remains Of The Day, 1993, from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory.
Sense And Sensibility (1995) - The Air Is Full Of Spices We meet Alan Rickman as Col. Brandon, who is taken by Marianne (Kate Winslet), performing for her mother, sisters and their hosts (Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay, Emile Francoise, Robert Hardy, Elizabeth Spriggs), in Sense And Sensibility, 1995, from the Jane Austen novel.
Sense And Sensibility (1995) - You Must Help Them Director Ang Lee’s graceful opening from star Emma Thompson’s sparkling screenplay, with Tom Wilkinson near death, James Fleet his son, his wife Harriet Walker, and Kate Winslet at the keyboard, as the romantic stepdaughter Marianne, from the hit Jane Austen adaptation Sense And Sensibility, 1995.
Remains Of The Day, The (1993) - For One Such As Yourself An early encounter between butler James Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) and new housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), regarding his father, also a servant, in the Ismail Merchant-James Ivory drama The Remains Of The Day, 1993.
Sense And Sensibility (1995) - The Position Of The Nile Screenwriter and star Emma Thompson as soon-to-be-impoverished Elinor, with her mother and sister (Gemma Jones, Kate Winslet) when clever visitor Mr. Farrars (Hugh Grant) devises a temptation for brooding younger sister Margaret (Emile Francoise), in Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility, 1995.
Sense And Sensibility (1995) - To Love Is To Burn Less-practical sister Marianne (Kate Winslet) brings news to mother (Gemma Jones) of an offer to forestall their impending poverty, though both are concerned with elder sister Elinor (Emma Thompson), who has grown attached to their new friend Edward, in Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility, 1995.
Howards End - There Wasn't Any Moon Rapid events as we meet Margaret (Emma Thompson) reading a letter from sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) to Aunt Juley (Prunella Scales) then return to the titular house where Paul (Joseph Bennett) revokes his promise, in Howards End, 1992, from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory.
Howards End - You Took My Umbrella Helen (Helena Bonham Carter) has just returned home from a lecture to sister Margaret (Emma Thompson) and brother Tibby (Adrian Ross-Magenty) when Leonard (Samuel West) arrives seeking his umbrella, in the Merchant-Ivory production of Howards End, 1992.

Trailer

Family

Eric Thompson
Father
Stage director. Directed Alan Ayckbourn's early plays; died in 1982 at age 53.
Phyllida Law
Mother
Actor. Born in Glasgow c. 1932.
Sophie Thompson
Sister
Actor. Born c. 1962.
Gaia Romilly Wise
Daughter
Born on December 4, 1999; father, Greg Wise.

Companions

Hugh Laurie
Companion
Actor. Dated while at Cambridge.
Kenneth Branagh
Husband
Actor; director. Married in 1989; announced separation in October 1995; divorced.
Greg Wise
Companion
Actor. Met during filming of "Sense and Sensibility"; together since 1995; married July 2003.

Bibliography