Emma Thompson Biography

Emma Thompson is famous British actress, comedienne and screenwriter. Read the biography below to learn all about her childhood, career, profile and timeline.

Emma Thompson
Quick Facts

Birthday: April 15, 1959

Nationality: British

Famous: Quotes By Emma Thompson Atheists

Age: 60 Years, 60 Year Old Females

Sun Sign: Aries

Born in: Paddington

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Females

political ideology: Labour Party


Spouse/Ex-: Greg Wise (m. 2003), Kenneth Branagh (m. 1989–1995)

father: Eric Thompson

mother: Phyllida Law

siblings: Sophie Thompson

children: Gaia Romilly Wise Tindyebwa Agaba Wise

City: London, England

Diseases & Disabilities: Depression

More Facts

education: Beckford Primary School Camden School for Girls Newnham College

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Born into a show business family, actress-writer Emma Thompson rose from the London stage to international film and television acclaim. The ‘West End’ revival of the musical, ‘Me and My Girl’ catapulted her to great fame. She impressed both the critics and the audiences alike with her early films such as ‘Henry V’ and ‘Dead Again’. Throughout the early stages of her career she worked extensively with her then-husband Kenneth Branagh and Footlight co-stars Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. Two of her best films were Merchant Ivory productions namely ‘Howard's End’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’, which earned her appreciation from all across the globe. She established herself as a brilliant artist with her performances in the riveting IRA drama, ‘In the Name of the Father’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’, in which she worked both as a screenwriter and actor. She gave sterling performance on television as well with productions like ‘Wit’ and the miniseries, ‘Angels in America’. Exceptionally competent, she took on recurring roles for the first time in the fantasy films, ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’. This tremendously talented star continues to write and act and has become one of the most honored and respected actresses today.

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Emma Thompson
Childhood & Early Life
  • Thompson was born to Phyllida Law, a Scottish actress, and Eric Thompson, of the popular children's television series, ‘The Magic Roundabout’ fame, in Paddington, London.
  • Thompson attended the Camden School for Girls and in 1977 she was enrolled to the ‘Newnham College’, at Cambridge. After reading, ‘The Madwoman in the Attic’, she wanted to be a comedian like Lily Tomlin.
  • In 1980, she became the Vice President of Footlights, the university's sketch comedy troupe and also co-directed the troupe's first all-female revue, ‘Women's Hour’. Her team was awarded the Perrier Award for ‘The Cellar Tapes’.
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  • After a minor role in the 1982 play, ‘Not the Nine O'Clock News’, Thompson worked for television with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in ‘There's Nothing To Worry About!’ and the ‘Alfresco’.
  • She came to limelight in 1985, with the ‘West End’ revival of the musical, ‘Me and My Girl’. Two years later, she played lead roles in two television miniseries, ‘Fortunes of War’ and ‘Tutti Frutti’.
  • She made her film debut with the 1989 romantic comedy ‘The Tall Guy’, a box-office disappointment. Starring Jeff Goldblum, she played a nurse with whom he falls in love.
  • She portrayed Princess Katherine in Branagh's screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’, in 1989 and the following year acted alongside Branagh in his stage productions of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ and ‘King Lear’.
  • She received great critical acclaim for her supporting role as Duchess D'Antan in the 1991 film, ‘Impromptu’, depicting the life of novelist George Sand. She was cast alongside Judy Davis and Hugh Grant in the film.
  • In association with Branagh, she worked in ‘Dead Again’, a psychological thriller, in which she played a woman who has forgotten her identity. The thriller was number one at the US box office for two weeks.
  • In 1992, she worked with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton and Tony Slattery in ‘Peter’s Friends’. Directed by Branagh, it was about a group of Cambridge alumni reunited ten years after graduation.
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  • In, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, a 1993 romantic comedy film based on William Shakespeare's play, directed by Kenneth Branagh who also starred in the film, she played Beatrice which won her great praise from the critics.
  • In the Merchant–Ivory 1993 film, ‘The Remains of the Day’ based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, she starred as Miss Kenton, a housekeeper with Anthony Hopkins as Steven, a butler in interwar Britain.
  • Her sterling performance as the lawyer Gareth Pierce in 1993 film, ‘In the Name of the Father’, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, earned her a second Oscar nomination of the year.
  • In the 2001 HBO film, ‘Wit’, she portrayed a Harvard professor’s struggles after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Her performance in the film earned her nominations for Golden Globes, Emmys and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
  • One of her most commercially successful film was Richard Curtis's romantic comedy ‘Love Actually’, released in 2003. In the film, she portrayed a middle-class wife who suspects her husband, played by Alan Rickman, of infidelity
  • She portrayed Sybil Trelawney in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, a role she reprised in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’.
  • She appeared in the HBO miniseries ‘Angels in America’ and also voiced Queen Elinor in ‘Brave’. In 2013, her performance in ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ earned her great critical acclaim.
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  • ‘Effie’, which she wrote and appears in, is scheduled for release in 2014. The film is based on the true-life story of art critic John Ruskin's affair with Effie Gray.
Major Works
  • Thompson was cast opposite Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Redgrave in the 1992 Merchant Ivory film, ‘Howards End’, based on E. M. Forster’ novel. The film received massive critical acclaim and won her many accolades.
  • She wrote the screen-play of the 1995 Ang Lee directed film, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, and acted alongside Kate Winslet. One of the highest-grossing films of her career, it amassed $134,993,774 at the box-office.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Emma Thompson won an Oscar Award in 1993 in the category ‘Best Actress in a Leading Role’ for the film ‘Howards End’.
  • Thompson won the another Oscar in the category ‘Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published’ for ‘Sense and Sensibility’ in 1996.
  • She has won BAFTA Awards in the categories ‘Best Actress’ and ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role’ for ‘Tutti Frutti’, ‘Fortunes of War’, ‘Howards End’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’.
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  • She won a Primetime Emmy in the category ‘Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series’ for ‘Ellen’ in 1998, for playing herself in the episode, ‘Emma’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Thompson married actor-director Kenneth Branagh in 1989. However, the couple got separated in 1995
  • She married actor Greg Wise in 2003 and had a daughter Gaia through IVF treatment and also adopted a Rwandan orphan Tindyebwa.
  • A supporter of ‘Greenpeace’, in 2009, she purchased a land near the village of Sipson with 3 others, to obstruct a proposed third runway for Heathrow Airport.
  • This British born actress used to keep her Oscar statuettes in her bathroom but had to move them to make room for her daughter’s artwork.
  • This Oscar winning actress has a song dedicated to her in the famous French singer Georges Moustaki's album, ‘Moustaki’.

1. In the Name of the Father (1993)

  (Drama, Biography)

2. The Remains of the Day (1993)

  (Drama, Romance)

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

  (Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Drama)

4. Pride & Prejudice (2005)

  (Romance, Drama)

5. Love Actually (2003)

  (Drama, Romance, Comedy)

6. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

  (Drama, Romance)

7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

  (Mystery, Fantasy, Family, Adventure)

8. Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

  (Comedy, Drama, Biography, Music, Family)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
1996 Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Sense and Sensibility (1995)
1993 Best Actress in a Leading Role Howards End (1992)
Golden Globe Awards
1996 Best Screenplay - Motion Picture Sense and Sensibility (1995)
1993 Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Howards End (1992)
Primetime Emmy Awards
1998 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Ellen (1994)
BAFTA Awards
1996 Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Sense and Sensibility (1995)
1993 Best Actress Howards End (1992)
1988 Best Actress Tutti Frutti (1987)
1988 Best Actress Fortunes of War (1987)

See the events in life of Emma Thompson in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Emma Thompson Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- September 13, 2017

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