There are so many reasons to adore Emma Thompson. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s talented. And perhaps our most favorite trait of all, she’s a straight shooter. Not only does she constantly deliver powerful performances, but she also serves as a voice of reason in the often-fantastical celebrity world.
But the best way to appreciate the magnificence that is Emma Thompson — and get a dose of inspiration at the same time — is to take a look at her words. Think you respect her now? Wait until you read the following quotes from this outspoken lady of London.
On the problem with perfection
“We’re all supposed to be happy all the time. What is that about? Why have we lost contact with the possibility of saying, ‘Do you know what? I can’t do that. Sorry, I can’t manage that as well.’” — to Good Housekeeping, 2010
Can we get an amen? We all fall prey to the facade of perfection thanks largely to the prevalence of social media today. But Thompson’s right! It’s OK, healthy even, to admit when we just aren’t feeling 100 percent. It’s a normal, human experience that we shouldn’t feel ashamed of.
“People wanting to be 35 when they’re 50 makes me think: why? Why don’t you want to be 50 and be good at that?” — to The Guardian, 2014
This entire false narrative that aging is bad and should be dreaded needs to get the kibosh. Love the age you are, like Thompson does. Every stage of life is beautiful in its own right — seek out that beauty when in doubt. We promise it’s there.
“I remember somebody saying to me that I was too old for Hugh Grant, who’s like a year younger than me, in Sense and Sensibility. I said, ‘Do you want to go take a flying leap?’” — to Vulture, 2015
Ugh, we’d like to apologize to Thompson on behalf of the universe that this even happened. However, her response is pure perfection. And at least we’re starting to see things change for veteran female actors like Thompson and Helen Mirren.
On “having it all”
“Sometimes you’ll have some things, and sometimes you’ll have other things. And you do not need it all at once; it’s not good for you.” — to Good Housekeeping, 2010
This whole “having it all” thing — who coined that phrase anyway? Thompson hits the nail on the head when she says you don’t in fact need to have everything at once. That just sounds… exhausting, doesn’t it?
“I believe that actors and anyone in the arts should be outsiders, so that we can say whatever we want and hold a mirror up, as Shakespeare says, to what’s really going on in the world. We shouldn’t be within the pale of polite society. It’s a disaster that actors have become so respectable.” — to Advocate, 2014
Do you get the sense that if creative people actually lived like this life would be infinitely more interesting? ‘Cause we do.
On children’s films
“The films I’ve made for children have been my hardest work, my best, because kids deserve the best. You look at what’s out there for children today, these awful things, the cynicism of it. It’s about selling products; children going, ‘I want the toy.’ I mean, in my day there was such a thing as selling out.” — to Parade, 2013
Children do deserve the best. And as a mother whose kids adore the Harry Potter and Nanny McPhee movies, I personally applaud Thompson for her commitment to creating such stellar content for little ones.
More: Emma Thompson Talks Lessons Learned From Nanny McPhee
On being herself
“Maybe I don’t take myself so seriously anymore. And I don’t care how I’m judged. I’m past all that.” — to The Telegraph, 2006
May we all one day reach the point that we care as little about what other people think as Thompson does. That’s the life goal, right? (Seriously, why do we care so much about other people’s opinions?! Let’s just decide to stop right now.)
“If you’ve got to my age, you’ve probably had your heart broken many times. So it’s not that difficult to unpack a bit of grief from some little corner of your heart and cry over it.” — to BBC, 2003
Thompson has the right idea. It’s my personal belief that everyone should lean into their grief instead of running from it. Heartbreak is capable of inspiring incredible change and producing powerful art if we just let it — Thompson and Helen Hunt are living-proof of that.
On supporting other women
“I get behind as many young female performers as I can and actually a lot of the conversations I have with them are about exactly the fact that we are facing and writing about the same things and nothing has changed, and that some forms of sexism and unpleasantness to women have become more entrenched and indeed more prevalent. When I was younger, I really did think we were on our way to a better world, and when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women. And I find that very disturbing and sad.” — to Radio Times, 2015
More, now than ever, women need to be in each other’s corners. Strong women in the entertainment industry like Thompson taking younger, more vulnerable women under their wings sets an example we should all strive to follow.
On her (mutual) girl crush
“Well, I met Sandy Bullock at an awards thing a couple years ago, and she said to me, ‘If I were gay, you’d be the one.’ And I said, ‘I’m there!’” — to The Advocate, 2014
Hello, match made in girl-crush heaven! Thompson and Bullock’s mutual admiration for each other gives us life.
“We have to reinvest, I think, in the idea of articulacy as a form of personal human freedom and power.” — to The Guardian, 2010
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Shall we say it again? Yes. We live in a time when debating has become a cultural milieu. We need to be able to express our thoughts in a measured and intelligible way if any ground is to be made.
On sexual assault in Hollywood
“One of the big problems about the way in which our systems work at the moment is that there are so many blind eyes. And we can’t keep making the women to whom this happens responsible — they’re the ones who’ve got to speak. Why? We’ve got to look and say, ‘This is happening,’ and say, ‘This is happening!'” — to BBC 2, 2017
Yes, the fact that we keep having to initiate these conversations is appalling. However, Thompson points out a salient truth: Not having the conversations simply isn’t an option. To be silent is to be complacent.
“There’s an awful lot of misunderstanding here about what being poor actually means. I don’t think people understand that being poor means you have to work from dawn until dusk just to survive through the day. I think there’s some notion that poor people lie about all day not doing anything. It is remarkable how many misconceptions there are here about life in the developing world and I think that that knowledge gap has done a lot to contribute to the imbalance quite frankly.” — to BBC News, 2003
Here’s one of the 1 million reasons to love Thompson: She speaks the truth even when she knows people don’t want to hear it. Nearly half of the world’s population lives in poverty, with 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty. Let that sink in for a second.