Emma Thompson Actually Lived Through Her Love Actually Heartbreak

Somebody, hold us back.

Words by Megan C. Hills

If you’ve ever watched Love Actually – and we’re sure you’ve watched Love Actually – then the sight of Emma Thompson breaking down to the sound of a Joni Mitchell soundtrack will forever be burned into your memory. However, Emma revealed at a recent fundraiser that she had drawn from her own experience of infidelity for the scene which makes it all the more painful to watch.

She said, ‘That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through.’

In the film, Emma’s character Karen stumbles across a beautiful necklace that she assumes her husband (the late Alan Rickman) has bought her for Christmas. On Christmas Day however as the family opens their presents, she is given a Joni Mitchell CD instead and connects the dots – realising that her husband is having an affair. It’s a situation Emma is all too familiar with unfortunately.

‘I had my heart very badly broken by Ken,’ she explained, referring to her former husband Kenneth Branagh and his affair with actress Helena Bonham Carter. ‘So I knew exactly 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.’

And the raw pain definitely shows in Emma’s performance as she quietly excuses herself from the lounge to cry privately in the bedroom. However, it’s the way she bravely puts herself back together to face her husband again that really drives the final nail in the emotional coffin.

Emma and Kenneth fell in love while filming a BBC series called Fortunes of War and were married two years later in 1989. It was later reported that Kenneth had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter after meeting her in an adaptation of Frankenstein, leading to a divorce in 1995.

emma thompson love actually heartbreak

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This isn’t the first time that Emma’s addressed the Love Actually scene, as she previously told The Sunday Times, ‘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…You can’t hold onto anything like that.’

Luckily, Emma seems to have moved onto bigger and better things. She and actor Greg Wise, who is currently starring in The Crown, have been happily married since 2003. They have two children, Gaia Wise and Tindyebwa Wise.

emma thompson love actually heartbreak

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Here’s hoping she’ll never have to cry in a bedroom again. Unless it’s on camera for a role, in which case – we’re first in line at the box office.