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Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson was born in London. Her father was theatre director Eric Thompson, also the creator of the successful children's series, The Magic Roundabout. Her mother is actress Phyllida Law.

Thompson studied English at Cambridge. While there, she made her debut as Aladdin in the Footlights pantomime, toured in the Footlights Revue and became Vice-President of Footlights, appearing on BBC-TV's Friday Night, Saturday Morning. In February 1980, she co-produced, directed and performed in Cambridge's first all-women revue, Woman's Hour. In the summer of 1981, she performed in the Footlights revue, The Cellar Tapes, which won the Perrier Pick of the Edinburgh Fringe, and was later broadcast by BBC-TV. She also made four series of the comedy show Injury Time for BBC Radio with Griff Rhys Jones.

1982 was spent filming a new series for Granada, interspersed with stage appearances in A Sense of Nonsense, which played at the Edinburgh Festival and toured England.

During 1983, Thompson received wide acclaim for her performances in the Granada TV series, Alfresco; Jasper Carrott's Election Night Special for BBC TV; The Crystal Cube, written by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie for BBC TV; and Celebration for Channel 4. She also appeared in her own show, Short Vehicle, at the Edinburgh Festival, directed by Humphrey Barclay. In 1984, there was the broadcast of the second season of Alfresco and a series for HBO.

Thompson played opposite Robert Lindsay in the original cast of the musical Me and My Girl at Leicester, and then London's West End, in February of 1985. In December of that year, her own TV special, Up For Grabs, aired on Channel 4. She left the cast of Me and My Girl in January 1986 and appeared in two episodes of Saturday Live for Channel 4. Following this, she went to Scotland, where she played Suzi Kettles in the John Byrne series Tutti Frutti for BBC TV. She then played Harriet Pringle opposite Kenneth Branagh in The Fortunes of War. For these performances, she won her first BAFTA for Best Actress.

Thompson wrote and recorded her own series, Thompson, for the BBC, which was broadcast at the end of 1988. She then went on to film Knuckle, directed by Moira Armstrong, also for BBC. She followed with the filming of the comedy feature, The Tall Guy, directed by Mel Smith, co-starring Jeff Goldblum and Rowan Atkinson for Working Title. She returned to the BBC to film The Winslow Boy, directed by Michael Darlow.

In December 1988, she filmed Henry V, directed by and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, for Renaissance Film. The following year she played Alison Porter in Look Back in Anger, filmed for Thames TV at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. In the autumn of 1989, she filmed the part of the Duchess in Impromptu, a feature directed by James Lapine, co-starring Judy Davis, Julian Sands and Mandy Patinkin.

Thompson then joined the Renaissance Theatre Company to play Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Fool in King Lear. A world tour of both productions finished in August 1990 at the Dominion Theatre in London.

At the end of 1990, Thompson filmed Dead Again, directed by and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, in Los Angeles. She went on to film the part of Margaret Schlegel in Merchant Ivory's Howard's End, directed by James Ivory, and in December filmed an episode of Cheers for NBC.

In 1992, she filmed the part of Maggie in Peter's Friends, directed by Kenneth Branagh for Renaissance, and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing in Italy, also for Renaissance. On her return to England, she immediately started work on the Merchant Ivory film The Remains of the Day with Anthony Hopkins, in which she plays Miss Kenton. For this performance she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the Academy. She then moved on to film Jim Sheridan's In the Name of the Father with Daniel Day Lewis, in which she played defense attorney Gareth Peirce, for which she was also nominated for Best Actress by the Academy.

Thompson won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as the Golden Globe Award, the New York, Los Angeles and National Film Critics Awards, and the BAFTA Award, all for her role in Howard's End.

For her performances in The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father, Emma was nominated for Golden Globe Awards for both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. For her work in Much Ado About Nothing, Emma was nominated for Best Female Lead by the Independent Feature Project West (the Spirit Awards) and Best Actress by the American Comedy Awards. She won the London Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actress for her performances in both The Remains of the Day and Much Ado About Nothing.

In 1994, she appeared in The Blue Boy, an independent feature shot on location in Scotland for America's PBS, and Junior, a comedy co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito for director Ivan Reitman.

In 1995, she starred in the title role in Carrington, Christopher Hampton's story of the strange love affair between artist Dora Carrington (Thompson) and Lytton Strachey (Jonathan Pryce) from Hampton's own screenplay, shot on location in England.

She also starred in and wrote the screenplay adaptation (based on Jane Austen's novel) of Sense and Sensibility for director Ang Lee. For her writing accomplishments on that film, she received an Academy Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published, as well as a Golden Globe Award, the USC Scripter Award and Best Screenplay awards from the Writers Guild, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Broadcast Film Critics, the Chicago Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics and the New York Film Critics. She also received a nomination from the British Academy of Film and Television. For her performance in Sense and Sensibility, she received her third BAFTA and National Board of Review awards for Best Actress, along with an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination.

Thompson followed that with starring roles in a succession of films including The Winter Guest, shot on location in Scotland and co-starring her mother Phyllida Law for director Alan Rickman (in his feature directorial debut); Primary Colors, with John Travolta, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates for director Mike Nichols, and the independent feature Judas Kiss with Alan Rickman, this time as co-star.

In 2001, Thompson garnered enormous praise for her collaboration with Mike Nichols on the HBO telefilm Wit. As actress she received a Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe and Emmy Award nomination. As the film's co-screenwriter, she received the Humanitas Award, and nominations for an Emmy and Golden Globe.

Last year, Thompson starred in several diverse projects: director Mike Nichols' critically-acclaimed, award-winning screen adaptation of Angels in America, co-starring Meryl Streep and Al Pacino for HBO, for which she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award; in writer/director Christopher Hampton's film adaptation of Imagining Argentina, opposite Antonio Banderas; and in Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis, for which Thompson won both the prestigious London Evening Standard and Empire Award as Best Actress, as well as the London Film Critics Circle for Best Supporting Actress.

Thompson can next be seen in the title role in Nanny McPhee, for which she also wrote the screenplay. Co-starring Colin Firth and Angela Lansbury, the film is an adaptation of the Nurse Matilda books by Christianna Brand, and is currently in production in England.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Emma Thompson Facts

BirthdayApril 15, 1959 (64)
BirthplacePaddington, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 7" (1m70)  How tall is Emma Thompson compared to you?
Awards1996 BAFTA Awards: Actress in a Leading Role (for Sense and Sensibility)
1993 Academy Awards: Best Actress (for Howards End)
1993 Golden Globe Awards: Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama (for Howards End)
1993 BAFTA Awards: Actress in a Leading Role (for Howards End)

Selected Filmography

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Beauty and the Beast
Sense and Sensibility
Beautiful Creatures
Love Actually
Saving Mr. Banks
A Walk in the Woods
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