Down by the Salley gardens

In “The children act” Emma Thompson and Fionn Whitehead, playing a judge and a sick boy, duet on Down by the Salley Gardens, a folk song whose words were written by Yeats. It’s a very engaging scene. Emma sings and Fionn plays the guitar.

In the last part of the movie Emma plays the piano and sings alone the same song while the boy is dying with leukemia. The interpretation is poignant and moving.

“Playing the piano at the same time as singing, that was a lot of rehearsal. That took me six months to really get that under my skin. It was really scary, but there’s a tentative quality to it which I really liked because there’s a risk involved when you’re playing and singing live. You ‘re going to make mistakes, and those mistakes contain a lot of the emotion of that scene” Emma said.

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

Emma Thompson and…

Fionn Whitehead!

Fionn Whitehead

Emma and Fionn Whitehead have said that they formed a special bond while filming the movie The Children Act.

The dynamic about and between Emma Thompson and Fionn Whitehead constitutes the film’s intensity. She plays an irreproachable but yet very human judge who sees her life intertwined with a very involving judicial case concerning a young Jeovah’s witness who refuses blood transfusion. He feels a strong attraction to her because she listens to him, she represents the outside world, made of questions, music and poetry. She introduces him to Yeats poems and he likes being young and foolish.

Whitehead shares his admiration for Thompson. “She’s a lovely human being and a safe pair of hands,” he tells “I felt so comfortable around her and we got along like a house on fire. Both the book and the film are at the most basic level about human connection. That was the easiest thing to do with Emma because she’s so giving and open.”

“Every scene we had felt like it had an incredibly high level of distress and emotion, plus a lot never felt like they had a definite ending. But it was made so much easier by having Emma around – she was so loving and kind. It was really great to be able to talk to her openly and chat and joke around and everything to defuse the tension at the end of the day”.

Before we started, we did a few rehearsals and got a bit of time to hang out and chat. I went to her house and she made me breakfast one day with Richard Eyre. That was really amazing, just to be able to get to know each other before we stepped on set. I always think that the more you know someone, the better you’ll be able to act together. We talked about the script, talked about the role but we also told each other how we were and had some food together. I couldn’t have asked for more from her – on or off set.”

What do her colleagues think about Emma?

Hugh Grant: “Emma is a genius who is not remotely sane. She’s nuttier and nuttier as the years go. She is clever, funny and mad as a chair”.

Beanie Feldstein: “Having someone like Emma Thompson walk on a set with a box of chocolate for the entire crew, it was like a warm, delicious hug of talent coming around you and blessing your film. Now I’m like, ‘Okay, great, I have to bring chocolates to everything because that’s what Emma Thompson did.’ It was like rainbows and sunshine and delicious warmth injected into the set.”

Riccardo Scamarcio: “She is an exceptional and sensitive person and an all-round artist”.

Dustin Hoffman: ““It’s great to work with her, she’s unique in the sense that she’s the only actor I’ve ever worked with who doesn’t care where the camera is, she turns her back, she’s so involved in the scene”.

Fionn Whitehead: “She is amazing, so lovely, so giving, an incredible actress! She’s a lovely human being and a safe pair of hands. Every scene we had felt like it had an incredibly high level of distress and emotion, plus a lot never felt like they had a definite ending. But it was made so much easier by having Emma around – she was so loving and kind. It was really great to be able to talk to her openly and chat and joke around and everything to defuse the tension at the end of the day”.

Maggie Gyllenhaal: “She’s cooked me roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, while acting and writing and producing a huge, multimillion-dollar studio movie. This comes through in all of the things she writes and the movies she acts in”.

Hugh Laurie: “Everything she did just oozed talent. She said talented things, she wore talented clothes, she rode a talented bicycle, she made talented spaghetti. She is a truly remarkable person, a very good friend, and I could not be prouder”.

Emilia Clarke: “It was extraordinary. I’ve admired and loved Emma from afar for my entire life, and getting to play her daughter and to now be her friend is just the most miraculous Christmas gift I could ever ask for. She became a mentor of mine and I’m incredibly grateful that she’s in my life. She just looked at me one day and went, ‘Darling, just do what brings you joy. Do whatever it is that brings you joy’. And I think about that quite a lot”.

Meryl Streep: “Emma makes you want to kill yourself because she’s a beautiful artist, she’s a writer, she’s thinker, she’s a living, acting conscience”.

Kate Winslet: “I remember when I went to Emma Thompson’s house when I was much younger and didn’t have an Oscar. Her Oscar was on the back of the loo and I picked it up and then years later I was giving my own speech”.

Stanley Tucci: “I always had a huge crush on her and I’m saying it in front of the camera”.

Mindy Kaling: “She is my favorite actor and from Much ado about nothing till The remains of the day I just wanted to write something for her”.

Stephen Fry: “Emma was so obviously gifted that her nickname was Emma Talented. Like Athena, she seemed to have been born fully armed. Among her weapons were a knack for character and boundless charisma”.

Adam Sandler: “She is a force and as an actress she is incredibly risk-taking and just as a human being she never plays it safe. I’ve never seen anybody like Emma, she is a strong, funny, great person and makes everybody feel comfortable, and sharp as hell and tells you what she’s feeling, she’s a 10.”

The children act (2017)

Even in dramatic roles, Emma’s presence lights up the screen and it is always pleasant to be in her company.

I feel a kind of affection towards her as if she were an old friend of mine. I recognize her facial expressions, so familiar to me.

The Children Act showcases another powerful performance from Emma Thompson, who shows us once again her ability to play drama roles.

Her expressions range from suffering to compassion, tenderness, disappointment, pain. This is one of the most complex and dramatic roles in which I have seen Emma try her hand.

In this movie I feel strong empathy with Fiona Maye, she is a judge with a strong personality who tries to be as rational as possible when she has to decide the fate of a seventeen year old boy with leukemia.

The consequences of her ruling will upset the lives of the people involved.

Fiona is totally absorbed in work and her marriage is falling apart but maybe it’s not too late to save it.

Fair performance of the promising young actor Fionn Whitehead.

The children act – the kiss

Look at her face after this forbidden kiss! I love the guilty and dumbfounded expression on Emma’s face, it seems to say: what the hell did I do?!

Simply fantastic! 😁