Emma Thompson and the Challenge of Baring All Onscreen at 63

Emma Thompson and the Challenge of Baring All Onscreen at 63

This is the shock of white hair that you first notice on Emma Thompson, your average 63 year old is more chic than anything she would dare to choose but also her age. Does not ignore Along with that is that big, wide smile and that knowing look, which suggests both a stupid intellect and a willingness to be annoyed.

And yet, Thompson started our video call by MacGyvering his computer monitor with a piece of paper and some tapes so he couldn’t see himself. “The one thing I can’t stand about zooming in is looking at my face,” he said. “I’m just going to hide myself.”

We are here on two computer screens to discuss what is the most revealing role so far. In the new movie “Good luck to you, Leo Grande.” Made under the direction of Sophie Hyde, Thompson is emotionally ready and physically naked, not in the low light, sexy type.

Thompson plays Nancy, a recently widowed, former religious school teacher who has never had an orgasm. At the same time, a devoted wife and a dutiful mother have many regrets for not living a life and raising her weak, needy children, Nancy hired a sex worker – a very rare one. Older person paid by relative newcomer Daryl McCormick (“Pecky Blinders”) – To give her the happiness she has longed for. The audience has to follow her like the most enviable woman – she could have been your teacher, your mother, you – who, in Thomson’s words, “crossed every line she has ever known in her life.” Is suffering from this memorable act of rebellion.

“Yes, he has made the most extraordinary, courageous and revolutionary decision to do something extraordinary,” Thompson told his North London office. “Then she makes at least two or three decisions not to do so. But she is lucky because she has chosen someone who, instead of being rational and natural, has an extraordinary level of understanding of the human condition.” With insight, and he understands what she’s doing, and she’s able to gently suggest that there’s a reason behind it. “

Thomson met the challenge he called “healthy terrorism.” She knew this character on a cellular level – the same age, the same background, the same drive to do the right thing. “Just a little bit of paper sliver and opportunity sets me apart,” he quipped.

Yet for this role she needed to show an emotional and physical level of danger to which she was not accustomed. Thomson, McCormack and Hyde have stated that they used to work one of the nude days during their rehearsal. Despite his four-decade career, he has been praised for both quality and disrespect, and has won two Academy Awards, one for acting (“Howard’s End”) and one for writing. (“Sensation and sensitivity”Thompson has only appeared nude on camera once: in a 1990 comedy “Tall man,” Vs. Jeff Goldblum.

She said that she was not thin enough to command such skin-damaging characters, and although for a while she tried to conquer the dieting industrial complex, like all the others who starved themselves to death. Like the young women who raise their voices for parts on the big screen, they soon realized that it was “ridiculous”.

“It’s not fair to say, ‘No, I’m naturally like that.’ It’s dishonest and makes other women feel that way. [expletive]”So if you want the world to change, and you want the image of women’s bodies to change, you better be a part of that change,” she said. You better be different. “

For “Leo Grande”, it was his choice to undress, and although he did it with nervousness, Thompson said he believed “the film would not be the same without him.” Yet, the moment he had to stand completely naked in front of a mirror, accepting the gaze on his face, as required by the scene, was the hardest thing ever.

“Truth be told, I’ll never be happy with my body. It never will be,” he said. “I was brainwashed very quickly. I can’t cancel these nerve pathways.”

However, she can talk about sex. Both its ridiculousness and the complexity of the woman’s pleasure. “I can’t just have an orgasm. I need time. I need love. You can’t just rush to the clitoris and flirt with it and hope for the best. It won’t work, logo. That. Think that if I touched that little button, it would go away like Catherine Wheel, and that would be wonderful.

There is a moment in the movie when Nancy and Leo start dancing in the hotel room. “Always OK” by Alabama Shakespeare. The two are meeting for the second time – a contest that comes with a list of sexual acts Nancy is determined to plow through (the purpose of the pin). Dance is thought to alleviate the stress of this type-A, organized-teacher, which threatens to derail the session. Liu has his arms around her neck, and when one glance at Nancy’s face, he closes his eyes and sways, with a wave of gratitude and excitement as well as anxiety.

Screenwriter for Katie Brand, who starred opposite Thomson in it. The second “Nanny McPhee” movie And the one who thought of Thompson as Nancy when he wrote the first draft is the point of the whole film.

“That’s all there is to it,” Brand said. “She misses her lost youth and organic, natural sexual development, if she doesn’t meet her husband. There is also a sense of frustration, not only about what could happen but what could happen from now on.”

Brand is not the first young woman to write a script specifically for Thomson. Mandy Killing did it for him. “Late night,” Confirming that she had been in love with Thomson since she was 11 years old. Writer Jaime Khan told Thomson that she had always wanted the actress to be his mother, so he wrote her a role in the upcoming film “What’s Got To Do With It”.

“I think the thing that Emma gives to everyone and what she does to people personally, and even through the screen, is that she always somehow feels like she’s with you.” The brand said. “And I think people really do respond. She’ll meet you on a very humane level.”

Producer Lindsay Doran has known Thomson for decades. Doran hired her to write “Sense and Sensibility” after watching her own short-lived BBC television show “Thompson” in which she wrote and starred. Handling the book and writing songs with Gary Clark (“Sing Street”).

For the producer, the film is an encapsulation of a writer who really understands his actress.

“I felt like Katie knew the device, and she knew what the device was capable of doing in a matter of seconds,” Doran said. “It’s not just, I’m going to be dramatic here. And here, I’m going to be funny, and here I’m going to be emotional. It can all pass so fast on his face, and you literally It can be said that it is a feeling, it is an emotion.

Reviewing “Leo Grande”, for the New York Times, described Lisa Kennedy as “terribly engrossed with the script’s gestures and revelations”, while Harper Bazar said that Thomson was “an ageless treasure that would be her next Oscar nomination.” Was immediately due. “

The clear momentum for such a film should be an award circuit joint, which could lead to Thomson receiving his fifth Oscar nomination. But the film, which debuted on Hulu on Friday, will not be released in theaters in the United States.

Thomson doesn’t mind. “It’s a short film with no guns, so I don’t know how many people in the United States would like to see it,” he said, blinking.

That may be true. But as a result, a change in principle by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that goes back to the pre-epidemic need for a seven-day theater release, “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” for the Oscars. Not eligible, that’s a fact. Director Sophie Hyde is not happy about this.

“It’s really disappointing,” Hyde said. “I understand the desire to protect cinema, but I also think the world has changed a lot. Last year, a streaming movie got the best picture. He argued that his film and other streaming services Not made for TV. He said they are cinemas, adding that “the academy should protect it, not what screen it is on.”

Thomson, for one, seems serious about the whole thing. “I think, given the fact that you have a little bit more piety in the life where you are, that it can be easier for people to share something as intimate as it is at home and then turn it off and do it yourself. A good cup of really bad tea, “Thompson said with a laugh. “None of you Americans can make good tea.”

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