Emma Thompson Is Having a Fabulous Time


It makes me happy to see Emma Thompson happy, and boy, she’s living it up in a new interview with David Marchese at Vulture. The 59-year-old is cruising into her 60s like Rihanna on a jet ski: relaxed, completely at ease, and totally in her element. She’s like a hip, cool aunt. And what really comes across, besides the fact that Thompson is incredibly wise, is that she’s so happy with her life and career at this point that she’s very comfortable playing ball—but also knows no one can touch her. (Asked if her acting is getting better now, she says “Absolutely. I’m fearless now.”)

Exhibit A of Thompson’s A+ attitude: her answer to this question about the state of her feminism:

Has your thinking about feminism changed over time?
Oh yes. I find it incredibly exciting at the moment because this new generation of girls — Generation Z, I believe — are challenging me all the time. I’m learning new things. Gender fluidity is fascinating to me. Every time someone says you’ve got to learn words like cisgender or trans, or when someone asks me to refer to “thee” or “thou” I get so excited.

Throwing the gender binary out the window: It’s a party!

I’ve never heard of this podcast she says she’s listening to, but I also really love what she says about how women are finally giving themselves permission to be total freaks of nature (I’m paraphrasing; emphasis mine):

I get very passionate about this stuff. I reread Betty Friedan’s book recently. It’s so fucking brilliant about the 1950s — the ways in which women were completely brainwashed about what it was to be female. Then I think about the women I’m listening to on The Guilty Feminist podcast and I go, “This is fantastic! There are new voices describing what it’s like to be female.” So women are less lonely, less fearful, less weirded out by themselves. There’s less going, “You mean I’ve got to fit into that mold?” Which is good, because these gender roles that we’ve created are so reductive and painful and dull. They’re so fucking boring.

Asked what she thinks needs to happen in Hollywood, Thompson gave a rather straightforward and common-sense answer that, while obvious, is refreshing to hear stated so plainly:

You have to challenge behavior that’s entitled or bullying or sexist or racist or homophobic — all the time. Because if you don’t challenge it, as repetitive as that might get, the behavior becomes normalized. If a bullying producer is not called on it by groups of people saying, “You can’t behave like this,” then they carry on and it just gets worse.

“People aren’t talking enough to each other” is a common refrain these days, but Thompson says accusers like Weinstein and Spacey to be asked what the fuck is their problem. I can get with that:

And let’s talk. The conversation that is perhaps missing at the moment is the conversation with Weinstein, with [Kevin] Spacey. They need to talk: Where does their entitlement come from? No matter how dreadful the behavior, you’ve got to learn why it happened.

Throughout the interview, Thompson drops wisdom on life, being a woman, going through childbirth, relationships, and aging. She’s not freaking out about turning 60—she actually says it’s the best time of her life! (“The work I’m doing is more fulfilling and happy-making than ever,” she says.)

But I think my favorite moment in Thompson’s interview (which is worth your time) is when Marchese brought up the early to late 1990s, which he describe as the years in Thompson’s career when she was “most in the Hollywood fame spotlight,” after her first Oscar nomination in 1992. Marchese wants to make the connection here that Thompson’s professional height may have overlapped with a personal low, but she just don’t agree:

I’ve read you talk about that period as being difficult. Why was that?
I can’t remember saying it was difficult.
Wasn’t it around that time that you also became clinically depressed?
I forget — let me think.

And then she goes on to explain that, sure! She may have said that. But it’s not the case anymore and maybe it’s also been not the case for so long that she’s forgotten all about it. Isn’t that nice? We should all be so lucky as to forget the exact reasons and timing around what once brought us pain. Why hold on to that? There’s so much else to bring with us and look forward to.

“Although we mustn’t get gloomy,” she says at one point. “Lots of things are better today: dentistry.”

Read the entire interview here.

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