Q and A With… Emma Thompson

The Last Chance Harvey actress on falling in love later in life, bad dates and more.

In Last Chance Harvey, your character surprisingly finds herself falling in love. Do you think that finding love when you’re older is difficult?

No, I don’t think it’s difficult—I think it happens. I think it’s rare, but I think the result of falling in love is the part that’s difficult. Falling in love when you don’t think it’s going to come your way—that’s enormous.

I want to see people who I actually believe to exist, who are vaguely like me, falling in love. People who aren’t perfect, who aren’t so beautiful that anyone would go for them. You don’t see love stories about that, you just see very beautiful people falling in love with each other—and I’m just bored, I’m bored witless. I don’t care about them!

It’s very relatable—two people who are lonely for love…

And it doesn’t really matter what the age is. It’s just not quite being able to find that connection—and not from want of trying. Kate does try. But it’s only somebody like Harvey (played by Dustin Hoffman) who just happens into her life and won’t give up, that makes her let her defenses down.

Do you think the older you get, the more you understand what love is?

Yeah, I do. That’s only if you’ve put a good lot of work into it, and if you work at it and figure out what works, what doesn’t work. Love is a daily activity, not something that just carries on in the ether without you. It is as mundane as cleaning up—the plates aren’t going to wash themselves and be put away… love is not going to survive unless you do the work, and the work is sometimes quite painful.

Your character has a bad date; can you tell us about one of yours?!

When I was a gal, the first job I did was a review show in Australia with Hugh Laurie (Fox’s House) and a few others. I was the only girl, and it was pretty difficult, because the guys were very “guy-y” and very, very clever. I started going out with a male model, who was really quite dim—as a sort of antidote, really. Unfortunately, and greatly to my regret, he followed me back to England, which was a disaster!

I remember him coming to the festival where we were performing and standing in a pair of leather trousers, his hands on his hips, and announcing to one of the boys that he was in fact an international man. I was so embarrassed that I actually went over and bit a sideboard in the bar- which bears my teeth marks to this day!

Well, you had great chemistry with Dustin!

Dustin and I knew that we had chemistry. That is just something that happens sometimes—but not as often as you’d like! We met on the set of Stranger Than Fiction the first time and made one of those rare discoveries you make sometimes in our profession. You can just work with someone and there seems to be no obstacle, no edges to rub off. It seems to happen with a very peculiar ease.

Contributing entertainment editor Susan L. Hornik is based in Los Angeles.
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