Emma Thompson was ‘utterly, utterly blind’ to Kenneth Branagh’s affairs

The New Yorker profiled Emma Thompson in a wonderful piece called “Emma Thompson’s Third Act.” Emma is not a self-congratulatory person, and the profile is littered with quotes about how she doesn’t believe it when good things happen, how she struggles with self-doubt, how she tortures herself to make good art. She’s also quite intimate in the piece, speaking honestly about the breakdown of her marriage to Kenneth Branagh, the death of her beloved father, her children (Gaia and Tindy Agaba) and more. It’s long but it’s worth the read for fans of Emma Thompson. Some highlights:

Her extended family of actors, artists & her kids: “We’re terrible gossips, but ‘gossip’ in the sense that Phyllis Rose described it, the first step on the ladder to self-knowledge. Gossip is discussion about life’s detail. And in life’s details are all the little bits of stitching that you need to hold it to-f–king-gether.”

Her father’s death: “That’s when I thought, Everything is upside down.” Eric’s death, in 1982, when Thompson was twenty-three, was a “cataclysmic loss,” she said, adding, “He left no money. We all had to earn our livings from then on.”

Falling for Kenneth Branagh: They met while filming “Fortunes of War.” Thompson remembers the moment on the set of “Fortunes” when she first fell for him. On a break between takes during a night shoot, Branagh tried to amuse her by singing in his slightly falsetto voice. “I burst into tears because he sounded exactly like my father singing on ‘The Magic Roundabout,’ ” she said. Branagh was reminiscent of Eric Thompson in other ways, too. He created the same seclusive climate around himself, wore a carapace of privacy, which Thompson compared to a walnut: “hard to pry open.” “He was incandescent with ambition and performance energy… Like two mating lobsters, we clashed claws,” Thompson said of their volatile two-year courtship.

Marrying Branagh in 1989: “I was embarrassed largely by the press version of our marriage. We didn’t present as glamorous in any way. I don’t think we wanted to be some power couple, and we certainly didn’t feel like it. We were lampooned and ridiculed, too—fair enough if you’re famous and overpaid—but it’s no fun.”

The sobbing scene in Sense & Sensibility: “She was not aware of what was inside her, and it suddenly emerges,” Thompson explained. Edward haltingly admits that “my heart is and always will be yours.” She holds up her hand, stopping him in mid-romantic flow. Words can wait; in the moment, she is crying tears of anger and joy. Thompson’s emotional explosion is at once a great piece of acting and a great piece of comedy. (“I was trying to make it as involuntary as possible. A case of the diaphragm taking over,” she wrote in her diary.) “Hugh Grant was so cross,” Thompson recalled. “He said, ‘You’re gonna cry all the way through my speech?’ I said, ‘Hugh, I’ve got to. That’s the gag. It’s funny.’ And he says, ‘Yeah, but I’m speaking.’ I said, ‘I know.’ ”

Branagh’s affair: Offscreen, in 1995, while the film was being shot, Thompson had to exert a steely control over her own pain. Her marriage to Branagh had collapsed, but they had not gone public with the news. Branagh had started a relationship with one of the stars of his film “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” Helena Bonham Carter. Thompson was humiliated, in part by her own stupidity. “I was utterly, utterly blind to the fact that he had relationships with other women on set,” she said. “What I learned was how easy it is to be blinded by your own desire to deceive yourself.”

Falling for Greg Wise: “I was half alive. Any sense of being a lovable or worthy person had gone completely,” she said. The person “who picked up the pieces and put them back together” was the actor Greg Wise, who played John Willoughby, the doe-eyed heartthrob who sweeps Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) off her feet in “Sense and Sensibility.” (“Full of beans and looking gorgeous. Ruffled our feathers a bit,” Thompson noted of Wise in her production diary.) Thompson has now been with Wise for twenty-seven years, married for nineteen. “I’ve learned more from my second marriage just by being married,” she said. “As my mother says, ‘the first twenty years are the hardest.’ ”

Her children: In 1999, Thompson had given birth to her daughter, Gaia Wise, who is now an actress. “We tried for another child, but it didn’t work,” she told me. “I often think if it had worked there wouldn’t have been space. So I’m very grateful the I.V.F. didn’t work, because every day I’m grateful for Tindy.” Agaba recalled feeling that he “didn’t have anything to give,” when he met Thompson and Wise. “What hasn’t he given!” Thompson said. “So much joy, so much insight to share in his empathy and his understanding of the world. We laugh—and he helps me to laugh—at the weirdness of people, at the strangeness of life, at its cruelties and absurdities. It’s such a comfort.”

[From The New Yorker]

Greg Wise, what a man. There’s part of me that still loves the fact that Elinor ended up with Willoughby in real life, only Willoughby ended up being a great guy and a loving husband and father. It’s incredible that she talks about how, in the end, she’s glad that the IVF didn’t work out because “there wouldn’t have been space.” They have Gaia and Tindy and a family of friends. As for Kenneth Branagh… I feel like throwing hands now. I mean, we knew that he cheated, we knew that he left her for Helena, but Emma rarely talks about it and when she does, I get mad on her behalf all over again. Then again, that devastation and betrayal led to her being open for Greg Wise, so it really did work out.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Robin Platzer/Twin Images / Twin Images / Avalon, Ana M. Wiggins / Avalon, Avalon Red.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

85 Responses to “Emma Thompson was ‘utterly, utterly blind’ to Kenneth Branagh’s affairs”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Misa says:

    What a couple. The love is so clearly there, but the partnership is there as well. I am a bit envious but it also gives me hope.

  2. Seraphina says:

    One of my all time favorite movies – if not number one. Greg wise is just -sigh. So happy for them. Love them both.

    • Laura says:

      Same!! It’s in my top 5 for sure & the best movie for me to put on if I’m feeling unwell. It just lifts my spirits every time I see it.

      I’ve loved Emma for almost 30 years now & I can’t wait to read this whole piece. Thanks for highlighting it!!

  3. Nicegirl says:

    She’s so awesomely luminous. ☀️ 🔥 💗

    This is the incandescence we need from Salt Isle.

  4. JW says:

    I love so many things about Sense and Sensibility, and I can really understand from Hugh Grant’s perspective being a bit miffed about his earnest actorly moment being trod upon. But that sobbing scene is the best thing in the movie, and while it may not actually be Thompson’s single greatest acting moment, it’s the one I will always remember first.

    • SadieMae says:

      Her performance there also opened up an opportunity for Grant. Without the sobbing, the scene would have been nice but rather ordinary, and not much for Grant to do but be earnest. With the sobbing, we watch his character evolve from nervousness and yearning – to slight confusion, concern, and mild alarm – and then to relief, fondness, and a little gentle humor when he realizes that the sobbing means that her heart is and always will be his, too (to paraphrase his lovely closing line). Grant nails the whole thing, and it’s wonderful to watch.

      • JW says:

        Absolutely. She gave him something much more interesting to play off of rather than just monologue. She goes so much much further than just an actor who lives out her character’s interior journey, to fully considering all the ways in which the moment will play for the audience. She’s so brilliant. Imagine being in a room with her, listening to her talk these things through. No wonder Wise couldn’t get her out of his head.

      • Margaret says:

        That moment is the highlight of the movie for me. It is such a surprise, and so “real”. All the pent-up emotion comes out in a glorious and joyous burst in response to Edward’s revelation, and lifts the scene to become a memorable delight. And it invites the delightful response from Hugh Grant’s Edward.

        I feel a re-watching coming on very, very soon.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      I always cry during that scene as well.

      • Duch says:

        Me too. It’s always resonated with me as what deep feelings are like when they’re allowed to come to the fore, but I never once thought of it as “comedy”. Off to watch it again 🙂

    • Nic919 says:

      I think it’s one of the few Jane Austen adaptations that understands its source properly and that is because of Emma Thompson. She did add Hollywood or Brontë nonsense to it and she captures the soul of the novel.

    • Jaded says:

      I can’t help it but I burst into tears every time I watch that scene. She is a superb actor and human being.

  5. Zazzoo says:

    I’ve never understood Branaugh’s appeal. He’s always seemed like a typical pompous jerk to me. Emma Thompson just keeps getting better, though. I love that she continues to take risks in her career.

    • sunny says:

      I’m sure the attraction there is linked to talent and performance and their stage chemistry. He is a magnificent Shakespearean actor, the best of his generation. And frankly, the two of them together doing the Bard’s plays was magic. Check out the movie version of Much Ado About Nothing where they give the most wonderful Beatrice and Benedict.

      Brannagh did always seem to have such a huge ego that he would make a terrible partner. Happy she found love with Greg.

      Emma seems like such a lovely person, is a glorious actress, a wonderful writer and has such a great sense of humour. Love her work so very much!

      • EBS says:

        Branagh’s a good Shakespearean actor and certainly has the best Shakespearean filmography of any actor of his generation, but Mark Rylance and Simon Russell Beale are better. Branagh even substituted for Rylance at the last minute at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, when his stepdaughter died.

      • sunny says:

        @EBS, I guess it is a matter of taste because while I like Rylance, I prefer Kenneth.

      • EBS says:

        I’m with Talia on this one, Branagh chews the scenery too much. Rylance is incredibly subtle. But opinions differ!

      • Jenn says:

        I’m with EBS, Branagh chews the scenery down. The best Hamlet I’ve seen was onstage with an actor called Adrian Lester — IME Branagh does not even rank.

      • EBS says:

        Oh Jenn, totally agree, Adrian Lester is an amazing actor. He and Rory Kinnear were utterly dynamic as Othello and Iago. His wife Lolita Chakrabarti is a wonderful playwright and wrote a play called Red Velvet, about the actor Ira Aldridge in the 19th century, who was the first black actor to play Othello. Adrian Lester was so good in the role, just heartbreaking.

    • Talia says:

      Branagh is a great actor but he needs a strong director to stop him chewing the scenery. The later films where he also directs are not his best since there is no one to tell him to dial it back a bit.

      • notasugarhere says:

        IMO he’s very good in the Wallander series. Smaller screen, dialed back.

      • Jaded says:

        @nota — I agree, he was amazing in the Wallander series. I once, many years ago, saw Kenneth and Emma perform live before they got too famous in Much Ado About Nothing and she was magnetic, totally charismatic, and I actually preferred her acting style to Branagh’s.

    • MissMarirose says:

      The first thing I saw him in was Frankenstein, where he was shirtless for a couple of scenes. Yeah, that was nice. But the moment was never repeated, lol.

  6. Concern Fae says:

    I always get angry at the “she had to know” crowd. Big time cheaters marry people who they realize can hoodwink. They want the marriage for cover and to avoid commitment.

    • SadieMae says:

      He’s also, after all, an excellent actor! Pretty easy to cover your tracks when you’re trained to be convincing in whatever role you’re playing (in this case, the role of a loving and faithful husband). And if he was having affairs on-set, that would also make it easy to conceal: no questions about coming home late, “is that lipstick on your collar?” etc.

      I think a lot of the people who say things like “she must have known!” or “how could she not have known?” do so because they need to convince themselves that nothing like that could ever happen to them. If they’re smart – if they’re attentive – if they work hard to stay super attractive – if they’re good and giving in bed – then *their* spouse won’t stray, and if he/she did, they’d know immediately instead of being the chump who didn’t know (which adds a whole other level of betrayal and humiliation). But Thompson’s story reminds us that even gorgeous, kind, smart, funny people get cheated on. Because cheaters are gonna cheat.

    • fritanga says:

      Hm. This is sort of ruining one of my favorite films, 1992’s Howards End, in which Thompson and Bonham-Carter played sisters – beautifully, too, with a ton of affection and devotion. But I guess that’s why they call it acting, right? For all we know they loathed each other.

      Usually I’m of the mind that there’s only one real cheater in an adulterous relationship and it’s the spouse who is cheating on their spouse, as they are the only ones who took vows to be true to their spouses. This is a little different, though. While Thompson and Bonham-Carter were probably only work colleagues and not bosom friends, it still seems a little sleazy to take up with the husband of a former co-star. Still, most British people are a lot less judgemental about this than Americans, so it’s probably just me. I’m just glad Thompson found Wise.

  7. ChillinginDC says:

    She leveled up in so many ways.

  8. girl_ninja says:

    Can I tell you that I use to LOVE Kenneth Branagh and when I found out he’d cheated on Emma with Helena I was done. I really don’t even like looking at him anymore. I don’t like Helena either. Interesting that Helena was reportedly cheated on by Tim Burton after being together for so many years.

    • L84Tea says:

      Same here. I come from a movie-buff family and we all looooved Kenneth Branagh in the 90’s. He turned out to be such a let down. It also changed my opinion on HBC forever too.

    • Normades says:

      I thought Helena cheated with Tim. His ex sued him for palimony.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      I thought HBC was the other woman when she first got together with Burton too, he was engaged (to a model/actress who’s name I am completely blank on) so no sympathy here.

    • North of Boston says:

      Me three!
      I had a mad crush on him, and another mad crush on him and Emma

      I watched Dead Again SO many times, back in the day when it was not as easy to rewatch movies, and dragged everyone I could to their Henry V when it was playing in theaters.

      And then when I heard he’d cheated on her, poof! My crush was gone. You had Emma f-ing Thompson dude! It made him seem so small and ordinary in my eyes. Meanwhile she’s just continued to get more and more glorious.

    • Truthiness says:

      Me too, or is it 3 or 4 by now? I loved early Branagh and as soon as he was revealed as an utter POS cheater, I lost any stomach for him and his outsized ego that ruins everything. He was alleged to be the bigger talent in that couple, yet who is the one who has 2 Oscars now? That would be Emma, who is as fun as she is talented.

      • Lens says:

        Me too -five or six who knows? But they were THE golden couple of the time. Cheating on Emma turned my love to hate for Kenneth and forever kept me from shipping, say, Brangelina. Old Ken turned me into a true cynic of Hollywood romances – geez you all don’t see that they are ACTORS acting out their parts?

  9. notasugarhere says:

    The story of Wise and Thompson does have some lightheartedness at the start. He went to a psychic (or friend who claimed to be psychic) for help with his love life. She told him he’d meet the love of his life on his next film. He thought the psychic meant Kate Winslet, so he kept trying to fall for Winslet but couldn’t get already-married Thompson out of his mind. Of all his projects, I admit I loved him most on the Celebrity Bake Off Stand Up 2 Cancer. Adorable.

    • Nicegirl says:

      🥰 omg thx for sharing

    • Andrea says:

      That psychic story is amazing! Makes me want to go see a psychic now. Lol

      Always adored Greg Wise and found him incredibly handsome. I believe I first saw him in The Buccaneers. They seem so well suited for one another.

    • Jaded says:

      And apparently Emma was big into getting Kate W and Greg together, thought they’d make a great couple. But he only had eyes for Emma 🙂

  10. L84Tea says:

    I remember how much I loved Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh being a couple. “Dead Again” is one of the most underrated movies and was such a masterpiece with them on screen together. I was so disappointed in him when he ran off with HBC. But it worked out though, and I’m glad she’s happy now.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Dead Again is such a good movie.

    • smcollins says:

      Yes! I *love* Dead Again! That was admittedly by first exposure to Emma & Kenneth (I’ve been following their careers ever since and am a total Emma stan) and their chemistry was undeniable. I was so disappointed when he left her for HBC, but she deserved better and ultimately found it.

      • Jessica says:

        It was my first exposure to them, too. A senior in HS, I was falling asleep watching at a friends place. I suddenly woke up and was entranced. That started my Emma obsession.

  11. Becks1 says:

    I had NO idea she was married to Willoughby!! I knew she had been married for years and years but never realized it was him. That’s really sweet. He’s SO good in that movie. (that movie in general is just so good, its one of the best Austen adaptations in my opinion. Col Brandon! Mrs Jennings! Imelda Staunton!)

    I love Kenneth Branagh as an actor and director but whenever I hear about him cheating on Emma I also get mad all over again, even though it was almost 30 years ago and she’s clearly moved on.

  12. SarahCS says:

    I love them so much as a couple, if I can’t have him I’m very happy that they have each other and clearly love each other so much to this very day.

    I think the Branagh thing really stands out partly because they were such a visible couple (not courting the press, just because of who they were), the shock that he turned out to be a cheater (with HBC to add to the drama), plus so many of us have seen her in Love Actually so we have a very clear visual to go with the story, I still sob every time I see that scene.

  13. Tigerlily says:

    Her scene in Love Actually when she opens the Christmas gift & realizes her husband is cheating…..she’s so authentic in it. Not hard to see why. I cry buckets every time I watch it.

    • Twin Falls says:


    • Agreatreckoning says:

      Yes. That scene is so heartbreaking. Emma completely displayed the stoic woman who had to leave the room to recover. Then, after the Christmas show, how the character chose her words was a master class. Greg Wise was a move up.

  14. LightPurple says:

    I am so happy that she and Greg found each other.

  15. HeyKay says:

    To all the folks with “You must have known”
    It happened to me, I did NOT know. I was blindsided, heartbroken, in shock, depression, etc.
    It is so easy to judge other peoples lives.

    I think Emma is incredibly talented. S&S and Love A are among my fav movies.
    She seems happy and I’m glad for her and her family.

    Hugh Grant makes me laugh, IIRC, his actorly response to the scene “Are you planning on sobbing your way thru this entirely?” A Hugh Grant “What about me?” moment. I sometimes think his dry humor does not go down well. lol

    • QuiteContrary says:

      I’m sorry that happened to you. Wishing you joy.

    • Isabella says:

      I also wonder: What can you do once you know? These messy people create so much havoc.

    • Jaded says:

      It’s happened to me several times in the long ago past too, and I didn’t know either. I was completely blindsided.

      @Isabella — when I found out I left the relationships immediately. That’s all you can do to get closure. Both the men I was involved with begged me to come back, said it would never happen again, but in this kind of situation it’s OK to get REALLY angry and not try to be nice or understanding or think that this one affair would be the last.

  16. Freddy says:

    I’m such a huge fan of Emma’s…but also Kenneth and Helena. Three masterful artists. It sucks about the affair…but each seems happy with their current partners. Good on them.

  17. AppleCart says:

    She totally traded up in marriage. And when people travel for their careers it’s pretty easy to hide affairs. My Dad cheated on my Mom using the cover of business travel for decades. Serial cheaters are pretty good at keeping that side of their lives on the downlow.

    I am just glad Emma chucked him out and started over. Unlike my Mom who stayed with my Dad until the day he died of cancer. She is a very happy widow. But was not going to be a divorcee.

    Choices I guess?

    • AnneL says:

      My father did the same thing. It was with one woman only and it went on for about five years. In the end he didn’t leave my mother for her, and my mother chose to forgive him. Their marriage survived it and became stronger in many ways.

      I was very angry with my father when we found out about it, not for myself but on behalf of my mother. I was the youngest at 21, so it’s not like he was abandoning his children. It wasn’t until I had the first of my two kids in my late 20s that I really forgave him and re-forged my bond with him. We had a strong relationship until he died at age 80 a few years ago.

      I had come to understand that marriage is difficult, particularly when you have a child who is very challenging like my older sister was. My father was close to her and remarkably good at handling her, but there’s no doubt her problems put a strain on their marriage and our family life. He was a good man (and a good husband, actually) who did a bad thing, regretted it and did his best to make up for it afterwards. I understand now why my mother chose to stay. She loved him. He was her partner in life and her person.

      Cheating is wrong but marriages can survive it. It depends on the circumstances. I don’t see it as black and white like I did when I was 21.

      But yeah, Emma was right to kick Branagh to the curb. That was a different scenario entirely.

      • J says:

        Sorry that happened to you and glad your dad was remorseful, a huge ingredient in being able to come back from it. I’ve been cheated on and had it impact relationships in my extended family. It is truly devastating and I think your 21 yo self was totally within her rights. I think it’s also awesome you could later come to forgive him – and that he was worthy of forgiveness. Not all are capable of remorse.

        I still see it as black and white, and personally I don’t think cheating it is the marriage’s fault ever. It is in the weakness of the individual who chooses to betray. But, I think many betrayers are people with potential and capable of a turnaround. But they can’t be given a pass they have to own it. Sounds like your dad did so that’s awesome, too many cheaters are so selfish and egos so fragile they truly cannot own their actions and express authentic remorse.

  18. Chanteloup says:

    Oh i enjoyed that new yorker article so much! <3 <3 <3

  19. Hootenannie says:

    I love Emma Thompson. I do have a question about an early quote about her father passing and them needing to work. She was 23. Did she not already work? Did she have young siblings or something who needed help?

    • antipodean says:

      Interesting question, Hootenannie. Her father was very famous for many years, so you’d think he would have built up a reasonable size estate. Her mother, Phyllida Law, who Emma is the spitting image of, is also a wonderful actress and is still working in films and theatre. Maybe it just makes a better sound byte for her to say that, but I can’t see the starving thespian in her history really. Regardless, I love her sparkling wit, and obvious human kindness.

      • Visa Diva says:

        I think her parents were always working actors but never front and center getting the big bucks. Also, they were located in the UK and not going for more lucrative roles from films and TV in the US

    • EBS says:

      Eric Thompson was famous but the BBC didn’t pay a lot in those days. I think he and Phyllida Law fell more into the “jobbing actor” category than that of stars. Emma had only recently left university at 23 and I’m sure she felt a bit unmoored when her father died. Her sister Sophie (also a very good actress) is 3 years younger and I have the sense that Phyllida Law is very charming but a bit feckless. So I can see how she would have felt financial pressure when her father died.

  20. Wendy says:

    Whenever the bit about Emma being cheated on comes up, I always think of how she portrayed the scene in Love Actually where she realized her husband has bought a gift for another woman. It brings me to tears everytime I see it. She obviously knows that pain well.

    Incidentally – for Emma fans, her sister Sophie Thompson is also a much beloved and totally charming actress – good genes in that family. Sophie plays one of the brides in Four Weddings and a Funeral and is in the lovely series The Detectorists. Check her out – she is really lovely.

    • CourtneyB says:

      I always think of Sophie as miss Bates in Gwyneth’s Emma. She has a great scene where she realizes Emma has made a jest of her in front of their group.

    • Jaded says:

      She was brilliant in Persuasion, playing Anne Elliott’s sister Mary, a silly self-centered twit of the first order!

  21. Giddy says:

    Emma is such a joy to watch and I’m thrilled that her personal life is so happy. I can’t help but wonder if there have been moments of regret on KB’s part through the years. He reminds me of my cheating ex who dramatically lamented that he “had lost” me. I replied that he hadn’t lost me, he threw me away!

  22. Mireille says:

    In my version of Sense and Sensibility, it turns out that Willoughby is NOT the father of (Eliza) Beth’s child. And, after realizing what a overly melodramatic persona Marianne turned out to be, Willoughby falls for and marries the lovely, sensible Elinor, who then becomes the great lady and mistress of Combe Magna. Colonel Brandon also realizes he doesn’t want to marry Marianne either, because let’s face it, he’s only attracted to her because she reminds him so much of his first lost love AND the younger Miss Dashwood has been nothing but rude to him. He then turns his great estate of Delaford over to war widows and their families, immigrants, and refugees as he is truly a nice man. And Edward, having missed every opportunity to reveal his true feelings to Elinor because he is a total wimp, is thrown into Marianne’s company, where they in turn marry after she comes to the eventual realization that pining away in sickness for a man is such a stupid idea. And they all live happily ever after…

  23. AnneL says:

    I absolutely love Emma Thompson as an actress but I didn’t care that much for the film version of Sense And Sensibility. It’s a good production with fine actors, and Kate Winslet just lights up the screen. I love Hugh Laurie as Mr. Palmer. I also love that Thompson and Wise met on set and are still together and happy. But I thought Emma was too old to play Elinor. She seemed like she could have been Margaret’s mother. And Rickman’s Colonel Brandon came across to me as a glum creeper. I didn’t like the Brandon/Marianne relationship. It just felt like her spirit was broken and he made her feel safe.

    The BBC miniseries version is far preferable, to me, because I like the male leads a lot more. Dan Stevens’ Edward is sweet and earnest with a welcome dash of humor and zest, and Colonel Brandon is suitably steady and mature but has quiet charisma and isn’t hard on the eyes either. I feel like he respects Marianne, appreciates and encourages her talent, and is interested in her as a person. With Rickman’s Brandon, that didn’t really come across to me. Charity Wakefield doesn’t have Winslet’s star quality, but her Marianne has a better journey. She seems to genuinely love Brandon in the end. She matures and mellows without losing her spark.

    As wonderful as Greg Wise was as Willoughby , I felt like Dominic Cooper’s version is more in line with what Willoughby should be. He’s immature, feckless and self-pitying. He’s not worthy of Marianne. The film version, IMO, goes too easy on Willoughby. It almost portrays him and Marianne as star-crossed lovers kept apart by his aunt. The BBC version shows her moving past her infatuation, truly recognizing his lack of character and realizing that she is well rid of him and has found a far better man and match in Brandon.

    I realize I am probably alone in preferring the miniseries, lol. There’s a lot to love about the film version, but the relationships/romances are the most important thing to me and I just think the BBC version did them justice in a way the film didn’t.

    • Emily_C says:

      My main problem with the miniseries is that they make Willoughby way too evil. They change him to having seduced a 14-year old. No, she was 20. Willoughby’s not Wickham. And he is supposed to be incredibly charming — everyone loves him and thinks he’ll be a great match for Marianne. That’s the point. They didn’t do that in the miniseries, and it kind of wrecks everything.

      Greg Wise’s Willoughby is far closer to what Jane Austen wrote. The problem with the movie is that Alan Rickman, while awesome, was too old to play Brandon. But I still really like the movie, and consider it a solid Austen adaptation.

    • FYII says:

      The BBS mini-series — because it’s a mini-series — has more time to flesh out the characters. It is FANTASTIC. Agree that Rickman is very wooden as Colonel Brandon in the movie. It’s almost like he’s trying not to emote or move at all. Hard to imagine anyone falling for him.

      The BBC series also has a young Lucy Boynton as Margaret. It’s just a pleasure all-around.

  24. QuiteContrary says:

    I adore Emma Thompson.
    Not long after Branagh’s affair with Helena Bonham Carter came to light, I ran into HBC in the ladies room of a West End theater. I gave her what I hoped was my most withering look and exited the ladies room.
    For months after, I wished I had said something to her (esprit d’escalier and all that).
    My husband and I saw a lot of theater when we lived in London and saw Branagh on stage several times (my husband calls him “dear, dear Kenny” because Branagh is so actor-y).

    • J says:

      👏amazing. I love it.

      Sigh I don’t understand “other women” who are willing to shank fellow women like HBC. Believe me, I’ve been tempted by some married guys back when I was single but I always paused thinking about their significant others and knew it was a no go. also wondered why I’d want a man like that anyway.

      On HBC, I’m glad she has made some sort of effort with Emma to apologize and atone. She gets lots of points for that. people who can own their actions and try to do better are good in my book.

      • Turtledove says:

        “Sigh I don’t understand “other women” who are willing to shank fellow women like HBC. ”

        They think they are winning some kind of prize? Or they think the love they share with this married man is magical and special and hence, it makes it ok? Add in a few spoonfuls of the wife being seen as being at fault.

        Ultimately, they will spend the rest of the relationship worried that he will do the same to them, and often, he will.

  25. sparrow says:

    Two things on this post, and I could well be alone because others have long left it.

    HBC always gets a pass. She’s seen as this eccentric Brit, aristocratic (which she is), messy dresser, pretty etc. Like a harmless, twinkly bauble. But I have never warmed to her. And I’m a Brit.
    Love Actually. The film is nonsense and bloated and hey ho I’ve just re watched it as first up in my Christmas romcomathon. I can never understand. Is ET’s character Liam Neeson’s sister? I always seem to glaze over the beginning. Even if she’s a friend, it’s so odd that before his wife’s dead in the ground she is telling him to get a grip and move on. But yes that scene with the neckless is brilliant. I think she dodged a jewellery bullet, tho, because it’s truly awful. I always think they should have cut the Colin story line, plus man in love with KK, and shop guy. Sam is just annoying. And even then, Martine M’s storyline about being fat etc was way off. I sound like I hate it, when the buggering thing always makes me laugh and then cry. Sorry, Kaiser please run a post on Love Actually all to itself!

    • Boxy Lady says:

      I haven’t seen Love Actually in a few years but IIRC, Emma’s character was the sister of Hugh Grant’s character and the friend of Liam Neeson’s character.

    • notasugarhere says:

      We did a good list of Halloween movies on a post last year but never got to a Christmas list. Maybe Kaiser/Hecate could do a post of Christmas shopping suggestions, including a few movie recommendations (on DVD for purchase) to get the ball rolling.

  26. notasugarhere says:

    Did anyone else catch the BBC Culture series (Mary Beard) filmed during the pandemic? She kept having Emma Thompson and Greg Wise on as virtual guests. They had just moved to Venice (life long dream of Emma’s) but plans changed. Her mother was feeling vulnerable alone in Scotland during the pandemic. They immediately came home and lived with her. They filmed from her mum’s woodstore and talked about how they’re adapting a play about the plague together. They also collaborated on Last Christmas which is one of my new fav holiday films.

  27. SIde Eye says:

    I absolutely love Emma and love her in everything she’s in. Even as the uptight headmaster in “An Education” (a great film) she’s so captivating. She’s amazing. I love what she says about Tindy. Beautiful family. I am so happy for her and after the awful way the first husband treated her I’m invested in seeing her in her joy. I loathe HBC and was really pissed when she showed up in The Crown. I agree with the poster above that says HBC always gets a pass.

    I found out my ex husband was cheating when (before password protections) we had the exact same phone. The exact same. By mistake I had his in my hand when it alerted to a new text. I opened it and it was a trash can. An actual trash can. As I went through the phone there were others. I’d compare the experience to that stupid knock out game when you’re walking down the street enjoying a beautiful day and here comes some asshole to cold clock you out of nowhere. That is how a 10 year marriage suddenly ended – truth is it was over before and I just didn’t know it.

    I’m glad Emma found love again. But for me back then (I was in my 30s) I said I’m done. And I was. It’s now over 11 years later. It’s another beautiful day of not being cheated on. Not being lied to. Not being stolen from. And not having some insecure mama’s boy take me down a peg. It’s a great feeling. I have so much love in my life and travel and happiness – I’m so protective of all this peace and no man is gonna ever step into my life and wreak havoc ever again. I’ve seen the whole world. Had the best dogs on my bed. I watch what I want when I want to. I wake up and feel peace. My story ends differently from Emma but we have in common that we are really really happy. Life is good.