Emma Thompson interviews are a joy forever

Monogamy is an ‘odd state’, Emma Thompson says

By Hannah Furness, The Telegraph, October 3, 2013

Monogamy in the modern day is an “odd state”, the Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson has said, as she argues it is too easy to be “caught by the happy-ever-after ideal”.


Thompson, star of Howards End, The Remains of the Day and Love Actually, said there could be “other models” for romantic happiness, as she admitted relationships are “very hard work”.

Speaking during a webchat for parenting website Mumsnet, the actress suggested there could be “another model that is three relationships over the three stages of your life”.

Thompson, who separated from Kenneth Branagh in 1995 after drifting apart, is now married to actor and producer Greg Wise. The couple have one daughter and a son; an orphan and former child soldier informally adopted from Rwanda aged 16.

The actress has now answered questions from members of Mumsnet about her latest book, The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit, how to foster a love of reading in children, feminism and her work on-screen.

When asked about her role in film Love Actually, where her character discovers her husband is having an emotional affair with a younger colleague, Thompson said: “That’s hard for me to imagine – being able to have a relationship like that whilst living at home. It seems odd to me.”

“However,” she added, “I do think that monogamy is an odd state, and actually I think it’s an odd state for women. I think that we’re locked into certain ideas and certain romantic ideals that have shaped our thinking about relationships for some time.”

“And I do sometimes wonder about whether there are alternatives, and about whether our fury and rage and disbelief and horror about infidelity is quite realistic. I, of course, have got the t-shirt, so I understand the feelings very well but I think as I get older and think about long-term relationships, I do see that they can change.” Thompson said she had watch “lots” of friends in changing relationships, adding: “We all live so long now!

“I sometimes wonder whether, whilst there is of course a completely wonderful monogamous model, that we’d all love because it feels safe and secure and there’s probably less work, than say another model that is three relationships over the three stages of your life. Your young life, your middle life, and your late life. All I’m suggesting is that there are other models and I’m also suggesting that we’d been a little bit caught by the happy-ever-after ideal.”

“All the fairy stories end when people get married and go off into the sunset, there are very few stories that deal with the nuts and bolts and actualities of serious relationships.”

She added: “I think that relationships are very hard work, that we can take our eyes off the ball very easily, I think that children can be a huge strain on relationships – it depends on what kind of relationship you have.”

The actress also spoke about misogyny in the film industry and the lack of role models for young women in a “cult of celebrity” and “emptiness”.

Saying she now visited schools to speak to girls, she said she had been “taken aback and saddened” to hear how difficult it was to find “people who are speaking with any kind of muscular integrity and intelligence” in the media.

She added there was still “a lot of misogyny in the film industry”, with older women losing jobs once they hit the menopause. “I tend to think if you’re going to do anything in this industry you just have to be so much better than the guys, and then even if you are, there’s resentment,” she said.

“Stories about women are so rare. Films about women are so rare. We just have to keep writing them, and we just have to keep trying, whilst remaining aware of the huge challenges.

“I’ve travelled around a lot and spoken to a lot of women in a lot of different places and lines of work, and it seems clear to me that the world is simply not woman-friendly at the moment, and there’s a great deal of work to be done on many fronts.”



Emma Thompson gives ‘snobby’ young actors a masterclass in red carpet drama

By Hannah Furness, The Telegraph, September 13, 2013

Actress Emma Thompson has given the younger generation a masterclass in selling their films, as she claims some of the new generation are “a bit snobby” about putting in the hard work of publicity.

… The good-natured actress went on to dance her way down the red carpet before appearing at a press conference to share the secret of her success.

When asked why she felt so comfortable in front of the camera, Thompson told an audience she believed the relationship between actors and the press was “important”.

Saying she believed some young actors are “a bit snobby about doing press” and thought they were “above it”, she advocated her peers to publicly get behind their own films.

She added she would always tell young actors to imagine their Hollywood blockbuster was their first performance at the Edinburgh festival.

“You go up the Royal Mile with a drum and you bang that drum and you say, ‘I’m in this show,” she said. “It’s really good, come and see it.’ That’s what you do.

“And if you don’t do that, no one will come and see your show because there are a million shows and there are a lot of people who are better than you. So you better get out on that street with that drum.”

She added: “Explain why you love your show. Say why you think it’s good. Be behind it . . . And if you can’t be behind it, don’t do work you don’t believe in.

“This is a job. Make it fun. Make it fun for other people, make it fun for yourself.”

She added she felt “passionate” and “very strongly” about the issue.


Emma Thompson: My life in pictures

Daily Mail, February 5, 2010

1966: I grew up in London with my parents, Eric Thompson and Phyllida Law, both actors, and my younger sister, Sophie. It was very happy. We were encouraged to be calm and tender, and were taught manners.

When I was seven I had my tonsils out, after which I was given a box of sweets, which I wasn’t usually allowed. For some reason our nanny ate them. I was so upset, I took my sister and we ran away from home.

We went around the corner and ate sandwiches behind a tree. It was the naughtiest thing I ever did.

1979: I studied English at Cambridge. I was rather quiet socially  –  when I was a young woman, I was not a great joiner of things.

I identified quite strongly with outsiders, with people who were left out instead of included, which is strange because I ended up being in a job in which I am given quite a lot of attention.

1982: My father died when I was in my early 20s, and Mum, Sophie and I are very close  –  my father’s death threw us all together.

We’re quite a strong little triumvirate, and probably a little alarming to outsiders as we never stop screeching with laughter. My mum and sister are both very funny, but I still think you need the male principal in there.

1983: Joining the Cambridge Footlights changed my life. After graduating, we worked up in Manchester for years doing sketch comedy together. In fact, I originally thought I was going to be a comedian  –  useful training for serious acting.

1989: I met my first husband, Kenneth Branagh, when we appeared together in the TV series, Fortunes Of War.

I fell in love with Ken because he was like my father, very funny, very witty, a self-made man from a working-class background who had taught himself to get on in life. He also has a beautiful voice  –  as did my Dad.

1993: When Ken and I were married, he was always working and I was always saying, ‘Let’s have a life.’ But he wouldn’t stop.

In marriage, you should never just trundle along  –  that’s when problems start. Remember to go out for dinner if you haven’t seen each other all week, and make regular dates.

I’ve had my heart broken so many times and it’s the most painful thing in the world, but you do get over it.

1999: Ken and I split up in 1995. Not long after that, I met fellow actor Greg Wise on the set of Sense And Sensibility, and our daughter, Gaia, was born in 1999.

My goal is to be an ordinary mum, not one who spends so much time away working that, when she is with her child, their time together is so precious she can’t relax. Why have a child at all in that case?

2003: Greg  –  whom I married when Gaia was four  –  is possibly the most decent person I’ve ever known. He’s kind to everyone; kind to the roots of his being. Plus, we both like to go to bed early, which helps!

But there’s a catch  –  Greg is astoundingly thrifty. If I buy anything, I lie about it, hide it, or stain/chip it slightly and claim it was 75p in a charity shop. I have managed to introduce three pairs of shoes, a handbag and a fedora, all by Donna Karan, using this ruse.

2003: I was very vocal in protesting against the Gulf War. I think there’s a lot of emotional disconnection in the world these days, as well as a lot of cynicism in the media, and it worries me.

I think that anyone with any sort of voice has a duty to plug into what they think needs to be said, and say it.

2005: I’m fascinated by power. I always think, ‘What would I do if (like Tony Blair, who I met to promote an Aids charity) I was in charge? What decisions would I make? Which bits of me would bend under the strain?’

2009: In 2003, we adopted a Rwandan refugee, then 16, called Tindyebwa Agaba. Tindy is very much a rural boy from a small community. He likes London, but he also loves to get away to the country  –  to go to a place where you can’t have airs and graces.

We’re very proud of him  –  and were especially proud when he graduated in politics from Exeter University.

2009: In the recent film An Education, I have a small part as the headmistress of secondary school. I only spent a day shooting it. I was playing the sort of role I am not often asked to play, which was a really sadistic, anti-Semitic woman. It was strange playing a character who is so bigoted, but I had a scarily good time doing it.


This entry was posted in anglophilia, fairy tales, heroines, hollywood, inspiring, matrimony, motherhood, writerly lives. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s