Before Eddie, LeAnn and Brandi, there was the Uncool Bermuda Triangle of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. And before that Uncool Triangle, there was the epic scandal involving Helena Bonham Carter, Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. All of them were friends. Kenneth and Emma were married, and frequent collaborators. Kenneth was being called the next Laurence Olivier. Emma Thompson won two Oscars within three years. Helena was considered The Corset Queen, the go-to girl for all English period films. And then disaster struck. Kenneth and Helena had an affair. Emma and Kenneth divorced, and she ended up with Greg Wise. Kenneth and Helena tried to make their relationship work for a few years, but she ended up leaving him for Tim Burton. And now Kenneth is remarried to someone else entirely.
This was all before internet gossip was a thing, but it was a HUGE deal back when it happened. Emma definitely came out the winner, but to my knowledge, she never played the “wronged woman” card or tried to turn public sympathy into a career. She just got on with her life, married a great guy (seriously, I love Greg Wise), had a daughter and she’s still turning in amazing work. As Emma does her promotional rounds for Saving Mr. Banks (which might earn Emma yet another Oscar nomination), Emma spoke about the thing with Kenneth and Helena:
Emma Thompson has spoken for the first time about her then husband Kenneth Branagh’s affair with Helena Bonham Carter. The liaison ended Miss Thompson’s six-year marriage to Branagh, who she wed in 1989 just two years after they met while filming.
Miss Thompson said the break-up was ‘all blood under the bridge’, adding: ‘You can’t hold on to anything like that. It’s pointless. I haven’t got the energy for it. Helena and I made our peace years and years ago.’
The 54-year-old double Oscar winner has spoken candidly about the depression that she suffered following the end of her marriage in 1995.
Miss Bonham Carter is believed to have started an affair with Branagh in 1994 while she played his love interest in Branagh’s version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. They had a five-year relationship. Miss Thompson said she channelled her feelings of betrayal into her portrayal of a wronged wife in Richard Curtis’s romantic comedy Love Actually.
‘I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer,’ she said.
Miss Thompson says there are similarities between her and Miss Bonham Carter, 47, which may have appealed to Branagh, 52: ‘Being slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged. Perhaps that’s why Ken loved us both. She’s a wonderful woman, Helena’.
Miss Thompson is married to Greg Wise, an actor and producer whom she met on the set of the 1995 version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The couple have one daughter, Gaia, 13, and a son, Tindyebwa Agaba, 26, a former child soldier from Rwanda whom they informally adopted when he was 16.
Miss Bonham Carter has two children, Billy, ten, and Nell, five, with her partner, film director Tim Burton. Miss Thompson has starred in two films with Miss Bonham Carter: Howard’s End in 1992 and the Harry Potter series from 2007.
In 2002, Miss Bonham Carter said her relationships had been misunderstood in the press, alluding to allegations of her affair with Branagh, and later, Burton.
‘Yes. I’m a habitual, serial home breaker, apparently,’ she said. ‘It gets frustrating because I know the story and the truth of it. It is very hurtful and, frankly, some of the things I have been called are quite libelous. But it’s part of the price of being in the public eye.’
This is why I will always be an Emma Thompson super-fan: “Being slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged. Perhaps that’s why Ken loved us both. She’s a wonderful woman, Helena.” How g—damn generous. How classy. How… smart. Seriously, it’s so smart of Emma to think of that situation in that way. It’s not a bitch-fight or a media war. Kenneth loved them both and it was a terrible situation, and Emma is over it. Bless her.
Photos courtesy of WENN.