Emma Thompson Believes "Romantic Love Is a Myth" and Can Even Be "Dangerous"
Emma Thompson never fails to entertain and move us with her impressive range of roles. From her epic performance as Miss Trunchball in "Matilda: The Musical" to that heart-wrenching scene in "Love Actually", her national treasure status has been firmly secured. While she has played a range of romantic roles during her 30-year career, it appears she's taken on a more practical approach to love in real life.
"It's philosophically helpful and uplifting to remember that romantic love is a myth and actually quite dangerous," she said on the Radio Times podcast, released on 21 Feb. "We really do have to take [romantic love] with a massive pinch of salt." The Oscar-winning actor was on the podcast to talk about her newest film, "What's Love Got to Do With It?", in which she stars as the mother of documentary-maker Zoe (played by Lily James) who makes a film about her best friend's assisted marriage.
"We really do have to take [romantic love] with a massive pinch of salt."
"To think sensibly about love and the way it can grow is essential if we're going to live long lives," Thompson added. She also puts the "happily ever after" dream to bed. "Long-term relationships are hugely difficult and complicated. If anyone thinks that happy ever after has a place in our lives, forget it, and that's what this film is about really," she said.
While it might seem that Thompson's less-than-romantic take on relationships is brutally honest, she has been married to her actor husband, Greg Wise, for 20 years, so clearly the couple are doing something right. However, Thompson's pragmatic take on love may stem from the breakdown of her first marriage to "Belfast" star Kenneth Branagh. The two were married for six years before the pair split after Branagh had an affair with his costar, Helena Bonham Carter.
In fact, it was her own heartbreak that inspired the "Love Actually" scene where her character, Karen, discovers her husband's cheating. "That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it's something everyone's been through," she told The Telegraph in 2018. "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."
While Thompson expresses love as far from rainbows and butterflies, her honesty is refreshing. Love is wonderful, nuanced, and messy in all its forms and Thompson just wants you to know that's ok. Armed with this knowledge, you're bound to live happily every after-ish.