September 2014

Emma Thompson: 'It's a different patch of life, your 50s'

Emma Thompson couldn't give a damn about fame, or getting older: she just wants to save the planet, and be a good parent in the meantime.

Emma Thompson was on a ship recently, bound for the Arctic, with 37 crew and her 14-year-old daughter, Gaia, part of a Greenpeace mission to highlight global warming. She has done a lot of trips like this, to Africa and south-east Asia - "raising awareness", as the exhausted phrase goes - but the ship cleaving through ice seemed particularly apt.

Emma Thompson with her daughter Gaia

Thompson, at 55, is regarded as formidable in almost the Edwardian style, the actor-activist more concerned with the cause than with what you might think of her - or, for that matter, with the niceties of the charity world.

"When a disaster occurs," she says, "there can be a rather unsavoury rush to plant the flag of your NGO in the nearest head of whoever's surviving." She will not bite her tongue for anyone.

Nor, for the most part, will she play the movie star card. We are in Thompson's work space in a semi-detached house in suburban north London, near where she grew up and where her family still lives.

She looks like a graduate student in a Greenpeace sweatshirt, torn jeans, owlish glasses and trainers, her face fresh without makeup - an observation that, after spending an hour with Thompson, one hesitates to make for fear of letting the side down.

Still, she is an actor, and pulls another version of herself out of the hat when necessary, appearing on talkshows and at awards ceremonies to promote, in the US at least, a highly stylised Englishness that the Americans find charming and the English, perhaps, find a little de trop.

Emma Thompson with her daughter Gaia Thompson and her daughter, Gaia, on the Greenpeace mission to the Arctic. Photograph: Nick Cobbing Greenpeace

"Well, it's just energy. It's performance energy," she says. "It's not what you do, and you might regard it with some horror, but it's what I do. And it's what pantomime performers have done for centuries in our country. I don't have to do too much that's truly idiotic."

Read the full story at: The Guardian

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