Emma Thompson

Love Actually

Interviewed by Alana Lee

“People tell me no one cries as well as Emma Thompson! ”

Emma Thompson has won critical aclaim for her work in the theatre, on the big screen, and as a screenwriter (we won't mention flop TV series Thompson). After starting out in comedy and musicals whilst studying at Cambridge University, her film potential was realised in films such as Howards End, Henry V, Peter's Friends and Sense And Sensibility - for which she also won best adapted screenplay Oscar. Her latest film is the romantic comedy Love Actually.

This film is romantic and makes no apologies for it, right?

It's psychotically sentimental! It's true!

How does Richard Curtis get away with such unabashedly romantic stories and still make it funny?

The thing about Richard Curtis is that he's an extraordinary man. He does want to focus on the goodness and the decency inside people and I do think that's good. Look, we've got Quentin Tarantino and we've got Ken Loach, you know. We've got people looking at our seamy side and our sad side a lot of the time because that's easier. It's much more difficult to make a film about happiness with lots of jokes in it. I do think he stops you on the precipice of sentimentality with a joke. Just as you're about to drop into the marshmallow, he goes: "Wait! Here's a joke!"

Your story in the movie isn't all joyful, is it?

I play the Prime Minister's sister and I'm married to Alan Rickman and have two children. It's a fairly typical marriage and it's being rocked by the suspicion of betrayal. What I think is good about it is that it reminds you that, after 15 years of marriage, you can still get your heart broken.

And you have this big crying scene in the bedroom...

Yes it's becoming a bit of a joke really, isn't it? People tell me: "No one cries as well as Emma Thompson!"

But how hard is it to turn on the emotion like that and cry as if your heart is breaking?

Well, you just look at all the things that have hurt you or scarred you and you choose one to pick at! I mean, if you've got to my age, you've probably had your heart broken many times. So it's not that difficult to unpack a bit of grief from some little corner of your heart and cry over it.