Dame Emma Thompson (born 15 April 1959) is a British actress, screenwriter, activist, author, and comedian. One of the UK's most acclaimed actresses, she often portrays enigmatic and matronly characters with a sense of wit, frequently in period dramas and literary adaptations. She is the recipient of various accolades, including two Academy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, three BAFTA Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards.
Born in London to English actor Eric Thompson and Scottish actress Phyllida Law, Thompson was educated at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, where she became a member of the Footlights troupe. After appearing in several comedy programmes, she came to prominence in 1987 in two BBC TV series, Tutti Frutti and Fortunes of War, winning the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for her work in both series. Her first film role was in the 1989 romantic comedy The Tall Guy. In the early 1990s, she often collaborated with her then-husband, actor and director Kenneth Branagh. The pair became popular in the British media and co-starred in several films, including Dead Again (1991) and Much Ado About Nothing (1993).
In 1992, Thompson won an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress for the period drama Howards End. In 1993, she garnered dual Academy Award nominations for her roles in The Remains of the Day as the housekeeper of a grand household and In the Name of the Father as a lawyer. Thompson scripted and starred in Sense and Sensibility (1995), which earned her numerous awards, including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, which makes her the only person to receive Academy Awards for both acting and writing, and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress. In 2013, she received acclaim and several award nominations for her portrayal of author P. L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. Other notable film and television credits include the Harry Potter film series (2004–2011), Wit (2001), Love Actually (2003), Angels in America (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), Stranger than Fiction (2006), Last Chance Harvey (2008), Men in Black 3 (2012), Brave (2012), Beauty and the Beast (2017), and Late Night (2019).
Thompson is married to actor Greg Wise, with whom she lives in London. They have one daughter. She is an activist in the areas of human rights and environmentalism and has received criticism for her outspokenness. She has written two books adapted from The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours by Elizabeth II for her services to drama.