• Golden Globe Awards

Out of the Archives: Emma Thompson About Her Mother

Emma Thompson was interviewed numerous times by the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press. This is what she said in 1997 about her mother, actress Phyllida Law, her costar in The Winter Guest directed by Alan Rickman.
“Our relationship is unusual, and the reason is that there’s three of us in the family left now, me, my sister (Sophie), and my mother because my father (Eric) died when my sister was eighteen and I was twenty-one. Pathetic! Now I think if my father was still alive, it would be very different. I mean, we know mum so much better because we spent so much time together, we started going on holidays and traveling together, and we all live on the same street, within three doors of each other. We’re far closer-knit because of that event in our lives, also we’re three actresses who always had to earn our own living, we’ve never been supported by anyone. My mum always worked, I always worked when I was married, and my sister works. So that’s created quite a strong kind of triumvirate.  It’s a little alarming, actually.”
“Because my mum’s brother also died young, there has been a lot of death and disease in our family, and that does teach you how to live, because you look at it and you think, there isn’t long and at any point, it could be taken away, so get on with it!”
“We don’t have many rows, and even when we were growing up, neither my sister nor I appeared on the surface of it to have a rebellious stage, but we were allowed tremendous independence. I mean, my parents were people who never said, you’ve got to come back home for Christmas, and from quite early on, my father used to say, when are you going to go out and earn a good living? And it was nice because they freed us very early on.”
“There was never any political debate really in the house, I don’t know that we ever talked about politics, and we didn’t even talk about the theatre, actually, but we gossiped about actors and plays. I can remember a lot of chat about that, especially when my godfathers, who were both gay actors in the theater, would come over. I mean, my childhood I was surrounded by actors, directors, writers, but that makes it sound as though it was a rather recherché atmosphere, and it really wasn’t. It was very free and probably, if you compare it to Middle America, it would certainly be regarded as seriously bohemian, you know, with every kind of sexual orientation.”
“I don’t think that I would make a very good politician, because I’m too volatile, I’m not in control enough of my emotional responses to what’s going on, and I’m perhaps more interested in going at that in a creative way. I also think that politicians have no life, and I am very wedded to having a life, it’s not something I’ve ever been able to do without, and when I do without it, for whatever reason because work demands it, I get very sick and irritable and ill. I know some women politicians who work in the Houses of Parliament and they are on call 24 hours a day, it’s much worse than being a doctor even.”