Dame Emma Thompson, DBE (born April 15, 1959 in Paddington, London), is a distinguished British actor best known for a lot of Merchant Ivory movies, as well as Sense and Sensibility, Dead Again, Stranger Than Fiction, Nanny McPhee, and Saving Mr. Banks. Introduced Fry to Laurie, thus making her responsible for a veritable English institution. Also almost played God (it was decided that Alanis Morissette would be funnier). Has a very vitriolic friendship with Stephen Fry, who has seen her naked more than once.note
Thompson is also the only person who's won Academy Awards in both screenwriting (Sense and Sensibility) and acting (Howards End). Compare with Barbra Streisand, Laurence Olivier, George Clooney, and Michael Douglas, who also have unusual Oscar combinations.
- The Young Ones (s2e1 Bambi, cameo)
- Henry V (Kenneth Branagh version)
- Peter's Friends
- Howards End
- Cheers (one memorable episode in which she plays Frasier Crane's first wife)
- Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh version)
- The Remains of the Day
- In the Name of the Father
- Sense and Sensibility as Elinor Dashwood.
- Primary Colors
- Judas Kiss as FBI Agent Sadie Hawkins
- Wit (TV movie based upon the play)
- Treasure Planet as Captain Amelia (voice only).
- Angels in America
- Love Actually
- Harry Potter as Sybill Trelawney
- Nanny McPhee as Nanny McPhee.
- Stranger Than Fiction
- I Am Legend
- Brideshead Revisited
- Last Chance Harvey
- An Education
- The Boat That Rocked
- Men in Black (2012 — present) as Agent O:
- Brave as Queen Elinor (voice only).
- Beautiful Creatures
- Saving Mr. Banks as P.L. Travers.
- Beauty and the Beast (2017) as Mrs. Potts.
- Years and Years as Viv Rook
- Late Night (2019)
- Last Christmas
- Cruella as Baroness von Hellman
- Ability over Appearance:
- Treasure Island has the captain as a male. Treasure Planet changes it to a woman to accommodate Thompson.
- She was, at 36, by all rights far too old to play 19-year-old Elinor Dashwood (aged to 25) in Sense and Sensibility — something about which nobody cared one jot after seeing even a fraction of her excellent performance in the film.
- Adam Westing: In Ellen she's caught making out with a woman, and encouraged to come out to the public...then gets cold feet about whether it could lead to the discovery of her even greater shame of being American. She won an Emmy for the performance, which included a perfect Midwestern accent.
- Beauty Inversion: In Nanny McPhee where she appears under old age prosthetics - and Nanny becomes more beautiful as the story goes on. Thompson joked it took more make-up to have her appear beautiful.
- The Cameo: As the Headmistress in An Education.
- Cast the Expert: Very appropriate that she be chosen to play a writer in Stranger Than Fiction.
- Casting Gag:
- Dawson Casting: At 36 she played Elinor Dashwood who is around 19.
- The 1995 film version of Elinor Dashwood was aged up from 19 to 27, to partly alleviate this.
- Dyeing for Your Art: She gained thirty pounds for Love Actually.
- Enforced Method Acting:
- Fake Nationality: Sort of. She plays the Australian PL Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, but Travers had lost her accent and spoke with an English one at the time Thompson played her.
- Fake Scot: Voiced Scottish Queen Elinor in Brave. Thompson's Scottish accent is quite accurate, helped no doubt by having Scottish family members.
- Loads and Loads of Roles: For the TV adaptation of Angels in America she plays an angel, a homeless woman and Nurse Emily.
- Real-Life Relative: Her sister Sophie Thompson stars in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, though she appears in Part 1 and Emma in Part 2.
- So My Kids Can Watch: She took the role of Professor Trelawney to impress her daughter.
- Those Two Actors: With Kelly Macdonald in Nanny McPhee, Brave and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- Throw It In: In Brave she ad-libbed Elinor's line "there'll be fire and sword if it's not set right."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: She and Stephen Fry are the best of friends. Neither is afraid to mock the other senseless if the situation calls for it. Such as this conversation, for example:Emma Thompson: You know the word "luvvie"?
Emma: What do you all feel about it?
Stephen: [sigh] I mean, I'm not going to get as upset as some actors do — some actors say, "We do a bloody hard job of work, we're serious people, you know, it's a coal face, doing a play! How dare they call us luvvies!" I think that's a bit overdone. On the other hand, it's a bit tedious when the Daily Mail says "luvvie couple XYZ," or something....
Emma: Do you know what the first citation of it is in the OED?
Emma: It's you.
[cue My God, What Have I Done? reaction from Stephen; eventually the previously-retired Luvvie Alarm goes off in reaction to the discussion]
- Wag the Director: On behalf of a fellow actor. For Brideshead Revisited, the studio wanted to force Hayley Atwell to lose weight for the role of Lady Julia. Emma hit the roof and threatened to walk if they insisted. This being Emma Thompson, aka one of the most (if not the most) bankable English actresses of her generation, she won the argument.
- What Could Have Been:
- She was nearly cast as Catherine Tromell in Basic Instinct but backed out of the deal.
- She also nearly played Emma Peel in The Avengers (1998). The role went to Uma Thurman.
- A kiss was filmed between her and Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility, but cut as it would have been inappropriate for the time the novel was written.
- Meryl Streep was interested in Miss Kenton in The Remains of the Day. As it was written with Emma in mind, it remains one of only three parts that Meryl has ever been turned down for.
- She quit the Skydance Animation film Luck in protest of the studio hiring the disgraced John Lasseter.
- Written by Cast Member: An Oscar-winning screenwriter herself, she has contributed to the scripts of many projects she's worked on.