Love actually … not? Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh went from working together to falling in love in real life — while also weathering his affair with Helena Bonham Carter — before the pair ultimately split.
The British actors met in 1987 while filming the series Fortunes of War and started to date shortly after. Two years later, Thompson and Branagh tied the knot and continued to work on various projects together.
“He was incandescent with ambition and performance energy,” the Nanny McPhee actress recalled of her former flame in an interview with The New Yorker in November 2022. “Like two mating lobsters, we clashed claws.”
In September 1995, however, they announced their separation — citing their conflicting work schedules as the reason for their split. It later came out that the Henry V actor had an affair with Bonham Carter while he was married to the Oscar winner, which caused their romance to take a turn for the worse.
“I was utterly, utterly blind to the fact that he had relationships with other women on set,” Thompson told The New Yorker in a profile published in November 2022. “What I learned was how easy it is to be blinded by your own desire to deceive yourself.”
She added: “I was half alive. Any sense of being a lovable or worthy person had gone completely.”
The Love Actually star revealed in February 2018 that she took inspiration from her experience with Branagh’s infidelity to deliver her iconic emotional scene in the holiday film.
“That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through,” Thompson said during a fundraiser for the Tricycle Theatre at the time. “I had my heart very badly broken by Ken. So, I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me. Well, it wasn’t exactly that, but we’ve all been through it.”
After splitting from Branagh, the Cruella actress went on to date actor Greg Wise. The pair, who met while working on the 1995 film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, married in 2003 after dating for eight years and share two children, Gaia and Tindyebwa Agaba.
For his part, the Dunkirk actor went on to date Bonham Carter until 1999. After the two called it quits, the Sweeney Todd actress moved on with Tim Burton in 2001. Burton and the Fight Club star share two children and “separated amicably” in December 2014.
“Did I work with Ken? I can’t remember anything, although there’s a reason the memory goes,” the Emmy nominee told The Guardian in October 2020 while reflecting on her relationship with Branagh. “You know, Ken avoided directing me once we were together because it can be complicated and I think he didn’t want — anyway, that’s all blood under the bridge.”
Thompson used the exact same phrasing — “all blood under the bridge” — when she spoke about her ex-husband’s relationship with the Les Misérables star in a November 2013 interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Times.
“You can’t hold on to anything like that. It’s pointless,” the Saving Mr. Banks actress said at the time. “I haven’t got the energy for it. Helena and I made our peace years and years ago.”
Branagh, Thompson and Bonham Carter all later had roles in the Harry Potter franchise. Wise and Bonham Carter also went on to appear in The Crown in separate seasons.
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