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Thompson, Emma (1959-)

Actor, Writer

Main image of Thompson, Emma (1959-)

Branagh, whom she married and divorced, directed and co-starred with her in a TV version of Look Back in Anger (d. David Jones, 1989), cast her as Princess Katherine in his very popular film of Henry V (1989), their real-life romance and their film co-starrings elevating them to theatrical-darlings status. They were also together in the absurd, but not unenjoyable US thriller Dead Again (1991) and made a delightfully sparring Beatrice and Benedict in Much Ado About Nothing (UK/US, 1993), both directed by Branagh, after which their partnership began to unravel.

But not her career: she won an Oscar for her eloquent playing of Margaret Schlegel in Merchant-Ivory's Howards End (1992) and was nominated for their Remains of the Day and as the crusading solicitor in In the Name of the Father (UK/Ireland/US, d. Jim Sheridan, 1993), and was much admired for her playing of Bloomsbury group artist, Carrington (UK/France, d. Christopher Hampton, 1994).

She won a further Oscar for her screenplay for Sense and Sensibility (UK/US, d. Ang Lee, 1995), in which she also gave an affecting account of Elinor Dashwood, whose 'sense' does not preclude the play of passionate feeling. Nothing could save the self-pitying heroine of The Winter Guest (UK/US, 1996) from being tedious company: one could never have supposed such a judgment likely in the case of clever, handsome, witty Thompson, who has claimed she wants to stop acting. She is now living with Greg Wise, Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, and is the sister of Sophie Thompson.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Alfresco (1983-84)Alfresco (1983-84)

Alternative sketch show with Fry, Laurie, Elton, Coltrane and Thompson

Thumbnail image of Blue Boy, The (1994)Blue Boy, The (1994)

Scottish ghost story about a hotel haunted by a drowned child

Thumbnail image of Fortunes of War (1987)Fortunes of War (1987)

Romantic wartime drama starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson

Thumbnail image of Tutti Frutti (1987)Tutti Frutti (1987)

Tragicomic story of legendary rock 'n' rollers The Majestics

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