Emma Thompson: ‘Romantic love is a myth and quite dangerous’

Emma Thompson did some Oscar-campaigning in recent months for her indie film, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. She ended up getting nominated for a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a bunch of critics awards for her performance, but she didn’t get the Oscar nomination. And I think she’s fine with it – for years now, she’s been anti-Hollywood and anti-awards season, or perhaps she’s just very, very British. In any case, Emma spoke to the Radio Times podcast about the Oscars and about whether she believes in “romantic love.” Some highlights:

Romantic love is a myth: “It’s philosophically helpful and uplifting to remember that romantic love is a myth and quite dangerous. We really do have to take it with a massive pinch of salt. To think sensibly about love and the way it can grow is essential. Long-term relationships are hugely difficult and complicated. If anyone thinks that happy ever after has a place in our lives, forget it.”

She felt ill every time she’s gone to the Oscars: “Both times I had to do the Oscars I got ill, quite seriously ill, before and during it. I just found the pressure of it and glare of it too much … It’s sort of astonishing – and then you think you want to lie down in a dark room. You think, ‘Please don’t ask me any questions or make me talk about myself.’ It’s horrible. I quite quickly developed a sort of allergy to that, but it’s sort of part of the job.”

On fame: “Fame doesn’t happen overnight, it’s gradual. I’m lucky from that point of view; I think it must be awful if you have to deal with being James Bond, or one of those people who really can’t go anywhere. To lose your anonymity completely … it’s not very pleasant for you or the people around you. If that’s what you want, to be recognised, then I suppose you can deal with it, and it’s not so intrusive. But it’s not what I wanted, and I think it’s a highly toxic condition.”

[From The Daily Mail and The Guardian]

I don’t think romantic love is a “myth,” but I agree that you need more than romantic love or sexual chemistry to make a marriage or partnership work long-term. That’s basically what she’s saying – you need to do the work and you can’t expect “romantic love” to be enough to sustain a relationship. But romantic love isn’t a myth! As for the stuff about the Oscars… I’ve never really understood why so many British actors are so anti-Oscars or anti-Hollywood in general. They pride themselves on “keeping it real” and being authentic… and then they cozy up to the Windsors. Emma does that. She’s anti-Hollywood-fakery and then she cozies up to King Charles and the rest of them.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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25 Responses to “Emma Thompson: ‘Romantic love is a myth and quite dangerous’”

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  1. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Romantic love might be a myth for those who continually seek that, “in-love high.” It was a myth for me in my first marriage. It is, however, NOT a myth in my 30-year marriage. We fell in love on the first date. Were rabbits for a few years (tmi), and then settled into our life. We’re best friends, most of the time lol, and look out for each other. Not a myth.

    • Ang says:

      Yay! That’s a really nice story. Thx for sharing

      • hmm says:

        Thank you for this comment Mabs. I’m in a situation with someone right now where it sounds like your second one, and I hope it ends up being so. Thank you for the hope ❣️

    • PrincessOfWaffles says:

      It’s not a myth if you have found your one true love. @mabs I totally feel you. It was love at first sight for me and it has grown in something totally amazing that I didnt expect. We were teens at the time and getting closer to our 50’s now

  2. Tulipworthy says:

    I agree with Kaiser, romantic love is not a myth. Perhaps she hasn’t experienced it, but it’s not a myth.

  3. HeyKay says:

    I enjoy ET and most of her work, she is very talented.
    Her Sense & Sensibility is one of my favorite movies.

    But she is starting to truly annoy me in most of her politics.
    She IS def a Royalist.
    She loves to give her opinions constantly on how we should all behave.
    She is a hypocrite on the environment, she continues to use private jets and travel very often, while telling us all how we must fight climate change and save the planet. See also, Leo DiCapro.
    Do as I say, not as I do.
    And she is gonna push the Nepo Baby daughter, like crazy, talented or not.

    Romantic love is not a myth, IMO. It can be the start and basis for a growing, full relationship.

    • Robert Phillips says:

      The only problem I have with your statement is. She continues to give her opinions. She is doing interviews. Reporters are asking her these questions. She’s not just walking out of her house and spouting all of this.

  4. girl_ninja says:

    Romantic love is not a myth at all. But she is right we have to be careful not to get wrapped up in the IDEA of romantic that we don’t expect to put in the work to make a romantic relationship last. Most of my friends have pretty good record as far as their marriages. Some have ended in divorce and a couple I side eye, but for the most part my besties are all loved up and happy and this makes me happy for them.

  5. Ameerah M says:

    I have learned over the years to take what British actors say with a massive pinch of salt. I always get the distinct impression that THEY think they are smarter or more evolved than American actors. And they aren’t. They just like to pretend they are above certain things. But like you said Kaiser, then will curtsy to a Windsor as if it’s the biggest deal in the world. Most of them are full of it. I love Emma but… she’s full of it too.

  6. kirk says:

    “Romantic love is a myth” proclaims female member of society that perfected the “marriage of convenience” to uphold the aristocratic hierarchy principle.

  7. notasugarhere says:

    Thompson may be trying to playact cynical here. She went through it emotionally with the public Branagh/Bonham-Carter affair that ended their marriage. But she’s also said the love of her life, Greg Wise, picked up the pieces and put her back together again during the filming of Sense and Sensibility.

  8. R says:

    it’s just easier to see and accept the flaws of a country you’re not part of, don’t have any emotional attachment to it and don’t make a living off. Emma Thompson earns enough money in the UK, has received MASSIVE recognition through British productions and probably most of her family and friends are in the UK. She doesn’t need the US to make a name of herself or her bread.

    • Coco says:

      Not true at all many people see the flaws in their own country that outsiders do not see because they see it and are affected by it. Outsiders or being some a fantasy of what other countries are like.

      • R says:

        @Coco, I was just referring to the portion where Kaiser pointed out the contradiction of Thompson of being anti-Hollywood, anti-oscars, but she probably wouldn’t mind doing the Bafta’s campaign rounds and cosying up to the Windsors, as much. I don’t feel any way or another about it, but I understand why Bafta’s and Windsors would be more important to Thompsons. She’s British, has more sway, more influence, bigger name in the UK, while in the US, she would be competing with the Americans on their home turf. She made a name of herself and her accumulated her wealth and influence in the UK. She doesn’t necessarily need the oscars or Hollywood as much anymore.Of course she can say that she doesn’t need an oscars, but she will stay friendly with the Windsors (through their connections and influence, she can probably produce the things she wants or fundraise for the non profits she cares about) I was being general that people can’t see or accept the flaws and problems of their country, I should have been more specific, I guess. I agree with you, people can see the flaws and problems of their home country, but usually, from what I have seen as a Third Culture kid, people can’t accept criticism about their country from outsiders. Like for an example, most (white) Europeans of a certain generation HATE being told about their colonial past by Americans, but they can easily see the discrimination against African American or acknowledge the excessive police violence against them. But amongst themselves, Europeans can say that the European colonialism was wrong. Hope I make sense to you, now?

  9. ML says:

    Um, maybe Emma Thompson defines romantic love differently than most other people? Of platonic, maternal, filial, etc types of love, did she not date Greg Wise? I have friends from other backgrounds who are with their husbands because their families arranged their marriages—it’s sort of like being business partners, but I’m assuming that Emma wouldn’t want that? Of course you need to work (ie, communicate, make time for each other, etc) at any relationship. But just because you have a fight doesn’t mean that you don’t love each other romantically anymore. If she wants perfection, then yeah, happy ever after might not exist. I think in a good relationship, you’re just much happier being together than apart and many people do have that.

  10. og bella says:

    Happily married over 20 years and together about 25 years. We were crazy hot those first few years (oh the books we could write). My husband (at times) still makes me get those butterflies in my stomach when I look at him. It always surprises me when that happens.

    That all said, life happens. Feelings and desires ebb and flow. Kids, family, work, sickness and health and all that jazz. It’s not (for us) a constant. There is always love and a commitment to “ever after”, but there are days I don’t like him very much. Days that I walk by him after a long, lazy weekend and, buddy, man, go shower. He annoys me at times, and sometimes on purpose for his amusement (apparently I am very animated).

    Then he comes home from work with a special sandwich from that deli near his job that I love, or the gas fairy magically visited my perpetually empty tank, or those times when, from across the couch just looks at me and simply says, “still” and my heart just flutters.

    So, yeah, everyday is not a picnic, somedays we are tested to the brink, but at the end of the day, we’re “still” and “always”

  11. Jaded says:

    The euphoria of romantic love gradually morphs into a deeper love based on friendship, respect, supporting each other through good times and bad, not holding grudges, not sweating the petty stuff, and always appreciating what’s good about your partner. So no Emma, romantic love isn’t a myth, and if you’re lucky like I am, the romance just shines through in different ways as the years go by.

    • Bobbie says:

      It’s not a myth. It just doesn’t last and moves into more like a friendship over time

  12. Deering24 says:

    Hmmm, the real myth is that if you never have romantic love, you are deficient in some way, your life isn’t worth living–and all that is definitely crap.

  13. EBS says:

    I think Emma Thompson is a good actress but she lives in a complete bubble. She and Wise once decided to protest some government policy by…not paying income tax. That lasted until (I’m assuming) someone pointed out that this generally results in prison time. She’s just a luvvie.

  14. abritdebbie says:

    I think her point, which I agree with, is the movie idea of love is not the same as actually love. Looking back at some of the “romantic” lead stories in the 80s and 90s movies were just so wrong. I mean some of the guys are red flagging all the way.
    I love that her and greg wise are such a cute couple. She looks absolutely amazing at the moment. Grey hair really suits her and she make it look super elegant.

  15. Ravensdaughter says:

    I really think the break with Kenneth Branagh quite devastated her. We all know what happened…because she can’t stop talking about it, or at least around it. Now she has a lovely and loyal husband and a beautiful daughter but she’s still dragging around that baggage.
    How does Greg Wise feel about all this chatter?

    ….and what’s with the Marcel wave? Is it for a movie? That style is so retro and it makes her look older.

  16. BW says:

    “Romantic love is a myth,” says woman married to WILLOUGHBY.