TV & Movies
How Emma Thompson's Real-Life Relationship Inspired *That* Love Actually Scene
“I had my heart very badly broken.”
’Tis the season to obsessively watch your favourite Christmas movies and – you guessed it – cry over Emma Thompson finding the necklace. By now, many of us know the scene back to front: Karen (played by Thompson) discovers that the beautiful piece of jewellery she thought she was getting from her husband has actually been gifted to someone else. She removes herself from the living room and stands alone in her bedroom, sobbing to the sound of Joni Mitchell in the background. However, what you may not know is that – somehow – the scene is actually even sadder than you thought.
In a recently re-surfaced interview with The Telegraph, Thompson opened up about the real-life experiences that helped her performance. The actor discussed her marriage to Kenneth Branagh, which came to an end in 1995 in a very tragic way.
“That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through,” the actor said. “I had my heart very badly broken by Ken. So I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me. Well it wasn’t exactly that, but we’ve all been through it.”
It appears their marriage came to an end when Branagh cheated on Thompson with Helena Bonham Carter. However, the two didn’t go public until June 1997, when Bonham Carter told reporters, “Of course we’re together and it’s very nice, thank you.”
In the movie, Karen has her brief breakdown in the bedroom but very promptly wipes her tears away and goes back to her family. According to Thompson, “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.”
Luckily, it seems Thompson has since healed and moved on. In 2013 she told The Sunday Times, “[It’s] all blood under the bridge. 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.”
Thompson has fully forgiven Carter, saying, “Oh we are [alike]. Being slightly mad and a bit fashion-challenged. Perhaps that's why Ken loved us both. She's a wonderful woman, Helena.”
Poetically, the same year Love Actually was released (2003), Thompson married her current husband, English actor Greg Wise.