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Academy Award–winning actress Emma Thompson starred in films like Howards End, Sense and Sensibility and Nanny McPhee.
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She starred opposite Anthony Hopkins in this turn-of-the-century drama produced by Ismail Merchant and directed by James Ivory. Based on the novel by E. M. Forster, the film followed the interrelationships between two families -- the Schlegels and the Wilcoxes. Thompson played Margaret, the oldest of the philanthropic Schlegel siblings while Hopkins played Henry,
the patriarch of the Wilcox family.
Henry ignores his late wife's last request to give her estate, Howards End, to Margaret, but he eventually falls for Margaret. As a critic in the Washington Post wrote, "the film's driving force is Thompson, who balances delicately along its ironic edge like a tightrope walker with an umbrella." She won several honors for her work on this film, including an Academy Award for Best Actress.
The following year Thompson shone in a more contemporary drama, In the Name of the Father. She played a lawyer defending Gerry and Guiseppe Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite), a father and son wrongly convicted of an IRA bombing. Based on a true story, the film earned strong reviews for its acting.
Thompson also had a supporting role in The Remains of the Day, which reunited her with Anthony Hopkins. The two played servants in a stately English manor known as Darlington Hall in the days before the start of World War II. For In the Name of Father and The Remains of the Day, Thompson received Academy Award nominations.
By the mid-1990s, Thompson's marriage to Branagh had ended. She took on a great creative challenge around this time, writing the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, based on the popular novel by Jane Austen. In this historical drama, Thompson played Elinor, one of the Dashwood sisters who are left to fend for themselves after the death of their father. Kate Winslet played her sister Marianne, and the two women set to improve their situation through marriage.
The film earned raves from the critics. Leonard Matlin wrote that the film was "a spirited and moving look at social mores and how disparate personalities dealt with them in early 19th century England." As one critic in The New York Times exclaimed, Thompson "proves as crisp and indispensably clever a screenwriter as she is a leading lady." The film, directed by Ang Lee, received eight Academy Award nominations. Both Thompson and Winslet earned nominations for their acting, and Thompson took home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Thompson became romantically involved with actor Greg Wise, who appeared with her in Sense and Sensibility. The couple welcomed their first child together, Gaia Romilly, in 1999. They married in 2003, and later "adopted" a teenaged Rwandan refugee, Tindyebewa Agaba, into their family. On his behalf, they engaged in a legal battle in 2008 to prevent him from being extradited back to Rwanda where his family had been killed during the genocide.
Around this time, Thompson co-starred with her mother in The Winter Guest (1997). The two had worked together in several films, but this is perhaps their most significant pairing.
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