'Sense & Sensibility's 6 Degrees Of Emma Thompson

As a British actor, it is pretty much a requirement that you are in a period piece — preferably a Jane Austen-inspired period piece — at some time or another in your career. The Jane Austen book-turned-movie Sense and Sensibility turns 20 years old on Dec. 13, 2015 and director Ang Lee helped a lot of British actors get that period piece requisite checked off their list back in 1995. Star Emma Thompson, as the reasonable Elinor Dashwood, was in the film with many familiar faces that she later worked with again in movies like the Harry Potter franchise and Love Actually.

Besides Thompson meeting her second husband, Greg Wise (who played the handsome jerk Willoughby) on the set of the film, there are some truly surprising actors that appear in Sense and Sensibility. One of the most unexpected actors is House star Hugh Laurie, who portrays the sardonic Mr. Palmer. Of course, when you look at Laurie's connections to Thompson pre-House — like that they were both in Kenneth Branagh's (Thompson's husband at the time) film Peter's Friends, among other projects — his appearance really shouldn't have been unforeseen. Thompson's Harry Potter character, Sybill Trelawney, could have absolutely predicted it.

Looking back at the understated Jane Austen film and seeing how intertwined all of the actors have been over the last 20 years (and even before) is the perfect way to honor the anniversary of Sense and Sensibility. So, let's get it started with the star herself — the incomparable Emma Thompson.

Emma Thompson

Columbia Pictures

Thompson not only starred as Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility , she was also the writer of the screenplay, for which she won an Oscar for. Not that Thompson's career needs any explaining, but since her time channeling Austen, she was Mary Poppins' writer P. L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, kooky Trelawney in the Harry Potter films, and busy mom Karen in the Christmas movie Love Actually. And Karen was married to ...

Alan Rickman

Columbia Pictures

In Sense and Sensibility, Rickman is Colonel Brandon, the older, reserved man who ends up marrying Elinor's sister, Marianne. But in Love Actually, Rickman and Thompson's characters were the ones who were married — and his character Harry was a real bastard. (The bedroom scene where Thompson cries to Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" gets me every time.) As for Harry Potter, Rickman infamously portrayed Professor Severus Snape, who never had the privilege of meeting the woman who guarded the Gryffindor's common room, played by ...

Elizabeth Spriggs

Columbia Pictures

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Elizabeth Spriggs had the unfortunately-titled role of the Fat Lady, who was in the portrait protecting Harry Potter's common room. In Sense and Sensibility, her character Mrs. Jennings loved to gossip about the Dashwood sistser alongside of ...

Imelda Staunton

Columbia Pictures

In Sense and Sensibility, Imelda Staunton is the well-meaning — yet annoying — character of Mrs. Charlotte Palmer (who is married to Hugh Laurie!). But in Harry Potter, Staunton portrayed one of the biggest villains of the franchise (after Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, of course) as Dolores Umbridge. Outside of her movies with Thompson (which also include Much Ado About Nothing and Nanny McPhee), Staunton was in the Academy-Award winning Shakespeare in Love with ...

Tom Wilkinson

Columbia Pictures

The tried-and-true actor was only briefly in Sense and Sensibility since the film starts with his character, Mr. Dashwood, on his deathbed. His death is the catalyst for all the bad — and good — that happens to the Dashwood females though, so he is of importance. Wilkinson is pretty much a Hollywood A-lister at this point, but before his turns in movies like Michael Clayton and Selma, he was in the film The Governess with ...

Harriet Walter

Columbia Pictures

Harriet Walter has been in some of the best British imports around — from Downton Abbey to Atonement. She played Wilkinson's wife in The Governess, while in Sense and Sensibility, she was his daughter-in-law. As the manipulating Fanny Dashwood, she made Elinor and Marianne's lives hell since she was married to their brother John Dashwood, played by ...

James Fleet

Columbia Pictures

If only James Fleet's John Dashwood had supported his sisters financially instead of listening to his wife, none of the trouble in Sense and Sensibility would exist. While Fleet isn't a household name, he was in another large British ensemble film before Sense and Sensibility — Four Weddings and a Funeral with ...

Hugh Grant

Columbia Pictures

The man who breaks, and wins, Elinor's heart is the mild-mannered and sweet Edward Ferrars, played by the one and only Hugh Grant. (While the actors were romantic in Sense and Sensibility, Thompson and Grant played brother and sister in Love Actually.) Edward happens to be Fanny's brother, which adds to the troubled courtship of Edward and Elinor — not to mention, he is engaged to Lucy Steele, played by Imogen Stubbs. Elinor's mother also does nothing to help her daughter marry the man she loves and she's played by ...

Gemma Jones

Columbia Pictures

The master of playing flighty mothers, Gemma Jones, was not only in Sense and Sensibility, she was Bridget's mom in Bridget Jones's Diary, which starred Grant. (Mrs. Jones would have loved Grant's Daniel Cleaver if she had ever met him.) The actress was also in Harry Potter as Hogwarts school nurse Madam Pomfrey. She was better at aiding the students of Hogwarts than she ever was at taking care of her daughters Margaret (yes, they did have a younger sister), Elinor, and Marianne, who was played by ...

Kate Winslet

Columbia Pictures

Kate Winslet was only 19-years-old when she starred in Sense and Sensibility and the film helped give the young actress notoriety to become the successful actress she is today. While Winslet has worked with a number of the actors from Sense and Sensibility since it was made over 20 years ago, my favorite actress has steered clear from big British ensemble movies. But considering all of the tremendous performances she has given to audiences over the years, from Titanic to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to The Reader, I can almost forgive her for not joining her Sense and Sensibility costars Thompson, Rickman, and Grant in Love Actually. But I know Austen fans would love to see a reunion between the foursome for the film's 20th anniversary. Can these talented Brits make that happen, pretty please?

Images: Columbia Pictures (11)