Emma Thompson and…

Anthony Hopkins!

Anthony Hopkins – The silence of the lambs

During their “Merchant Ivory period”, Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins developed a fantastic chemistry on screen, they generated electricity on screen and their performances in both Howards End and The Remains of the Day are stunning!

They have been poignant and believable as a loving couple despite the age difference.

While Howards End was Emma’s movie (it earned her an Oscar), The Remains of the day belongs to Anthony Hopkins and he gives probably his best performance ever.

Emma affirmed that there is something similar about their characters in both films, “especially the fact that it’s based on tremendous attraction.”

In that period they were defined the new Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Ivory said “Hopkins and Thompson jointly create such an absolutely magical world, onscreen and off, that I never try to twist out of shape what they do.”

They played together recently on King Lear and Emma told they were happy to meet and work together again after so many years, and she also said aging has its bright sides, “isn’t it wonderful being old? it doesn’t matter what we do, we don’t care what we do because we have no fear anymore, we are not frightened and if it fails it doesn’t matter!”.

Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson Top 5

This is my personal ranking of the 5 best roles played by Emma.

Do you agree? Please, let me know which one do you prefer and why.

1 – Miss Kenton – The remains of the day (1993)

Head housekeeper at Darlington Hall.

She developes an emotional relationship with the butler, Mr Stevens, who rather hides and overlooks his feelings.

She realizes Mr Stevens’ blind trust in Lord Darlington and often faces him with harsh words.

She loves him (and he probably reciprocates her love) but they are unable to express their feelings. Lovelorn struggle is a heavy burden to stand so eventually she makes a rash decision to spite him and this will sadly lead their lives to unhappiness.

2 – Fiona Maye – The children act (2017)

Leading High Court judge.

She is a smart career-oriented woman who neglected her husband for work.

She is called on to decide the fate of a 17-year-old boy Jehovah’s Witness who, for religious reasons, refuses a blood transfusion.

She decides to visit him in hospital and this encounter will change their lives.

3 – P. L. Travers – Saving Mr Banks (2013)

Author of Mary Poppins.

Shrew, annoying, hard to please, flies to Los Angeles to negotiate the sale of Mary Poppins’ rights to Walt Disney.

She is complicated, contradictory and inconsistent but she is also a vulnerable creature; she befriends Ralph, her personal driver but, above all, the only American she doesn’t hate.

4 – Katherine Newbury – Late night (2019)

Popular talk show host.

Her show is in decline and she tries to revitalize it by hiring a young Indian woman.

She is despotic and overbearing but also ironic and witty.

This is a funny character to play. Emma Thompson truly seems like a born talk-show host.

5 – Margaret Schlegel – Howards End (1992)

Intellectual woman of the early 1900s.

She is profoundly forgiving and understanding, passionate about art, literature and political discussions, friendly and cheerful.

She spends her days in intellectual conversations aided by her wealthy inheritance.

She takes care of her younger siblings, Helen and Tibby, taking on the role of a mother figure and she marries a pragmatic close-minded businessman not inclined to philosophy and literature.

This character earned Emma the Oscar for the best leading actress.

Howards End (1992)

If you like period films you can’t miss Howards End. The film juxtaposes the emotional, intellectual Schlegel sisters against the materialistic Wilcox family, showing us the differing attitudes toward emerging class early in the century.

Emma won the Best Leading Actress Oscar for her performance, acting Margaret Schlegel, an open-minded intellectual, highly educated, who likes music, poetry, politic and intellectual discussions; she marries Henry Wilcox, a pragmatic, snobbish business man, becoming a class-conscious woman, but deeply she goes on musing about human nature.

She takes care of her younger and selfless sister, Helen, to whom Henry gives a cynic advice: “don’t take up a sentimental attitude towards the poor. The poor are poor, and one’s sorry for them, but there it is!”

Margaret tries to make her husband a better man (and for me, beneath the icy surface, he owns a likeable side too).

The complexity of Margaret’s character with its many nuances lead us through Emma’s own path for the whole film, that’s why she deserved the Oscar: Howards End is Emma Thompson’s film from start to finish. Her charm fills the scene.

The following clip is about Henry’s proposal and Margaret’s excited and sweet reaction.

All is perfect: Henry’s piercing eyes, Margaret’s question about the ceiling heights to disguise her emotions, her hopeful eyes and her trembling gaze when she realizes that he is asking her to be his wife, the way she bites her lips saying “yes, I know, I know” walking off, the shy kiss, Henry’s hand touching slightly Margaret’s, the elegant way she goes down the stairs, the satisfied look on Henry’s face at the top of the stairs.

Their mimic and gestures, every movement, are studied in detail and yet everything is so natural.

It’s a stunning performance disguised as normal acting. Two hugely talented actors at their tops!

Henry’s proposal – Howards End