Share This Page

Thompson's role is two-faced in 'Beautiful Creatures'

| Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

In the late '80s and early '90s, Emma Thompson was best known for serious film projects such as her Oscar-winning turn in “Howard's End” and her starring roles in “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Remains of the Day” and “Sense and Sensibility.”

She's proud of those credits, but the 53-year-old British actor is extremely excited about her most recent work.

“In my 30s, I was more drawn to literary-type dramas. But this year, I'm doing the most wonderful work of my life because I'm getting to do a little bit of everything,” Thompson says.

That's high praise, considering Thompson has starred in such a variety of movies, including the “Harry Potter” and “Nanny McPhee” films.

In “Beautiful Creatures,” Thompson does double duty as the Bible-thumping hater of all things supernatural, Mrs. Lincoln, and the wickedly menacing witch, Sarafine.

“The character was fun to do because it was this blend of sexy and a church lady,” she says. “That's what sold me on doing the movie.”

There are points, such as when the witch inhabits the woman's body, that Thompson plays the role with such unabashed fun she ends up skipping through the scene. She also had fun with the Southern accent, which to her is as much about attitude as it is about how you sound.

Those kinds of decisions are what Thompson likes to make when she agrees to do a role. Although the film's based on a series of teen novels by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, Thompson opted not to read the books before the filming started. She wanted to discover the character on her own. For her, there's always the “wonderful opportunity to find things accidentally.”

There's a heavy fantasy element to “Beautiful Creatures,” but director Richard LaGravenese was determined to use as little computer-generated imagery as possible. That put extra pressure on Thompson.

“When we got to the scene where I had to make this transformation, I did it all with just my face. I was able to do that because it's just like something that we would do in the theater, where we don't have those special effects,” Thompson says.

She started her career onstage, but she made the jump to films in 1989 with Richard Curtis' romantic comedy “The Tall Guy,” co-starring Jeff Goldblum. That film wasn't a major hit, but it opened the door for Thompson to be in a movie that's become a Christmas classic: “Love Actually,” also written by Curtis.

She describes working on “Love Actually” as a wonderful acting job because the movie can go from making you cry in the middle to laughing at the end.

Thompson's career is heavy on drama. But those who have worked with her agree she has a wonderful sense of humor. Emmy Rossum, who plays another wicked witch in “Beautiful Creatures,” says: “You can't get a more fun human than Emma Thompson. She's intelligent, sensitive, smart, hysterically (wet)-your-pants funny.”

“Beautiful Creatures” is the first of five movies Thompson's in that are scheduled for release this year. The others are the comedy “Love Punch,” the period film “Effie,” the drama “The Secret Evidence,” and the story of Walt Disney's chase to make “Mary Poppins” —“Saving Mr. Banks.”

Rick Bentley is a staff writer for The Fresno Bee.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.