Emma Thompson Rules

You knew that already, of course. But here’s why today. When Hayley Atwell, star of the upcoming film Cassandra’s Dream, came over to her house and ate like a bird, Thompson asked why — and learned that Miramax had asked Atwell to lose weight for the upcoming Brideshead Revisited, in which they both star.

According to Atwell, Thompson “hit the roof,” and the next day she called the producers and told them to back the fuck off, or she would drop out of Brideshead Revisited. And suddenly, Atwell didn’t need to lose weight anymore.

LOVE.

(Via Feministing.)

[Note: I just updated this for the second time, because my quick reading of the article and Feministing post left me confused about who was starring in the what and the when. Think I’ve got it right now.]

ETA: I’m pretty sure this is a “fat” picture of Atwell:

82 thoughts on “Emma Thompson Rules

  1. Emma Thompson is my hero. Didn’t she also say a few years ago that if Kate Winslet ever lost weight on purpose she (Emma) would stop speaking to her (Kate)?

    That actress is really beautiful, BTW.

  2. Good for both of them–Emma Thompson seems like an awesome friend for HA to have, and an awesome person to BE, so that works out well for all concerned.

    Of course, anyone who would look at that beautiful woman and tell her she needed to change is clearly cracked in the head.

  3. 1. Oh my goodness. Not that it’s (at all) relevant, but I just can’t help myself: How exquisite is she? Swoon.

    2. i-geek, I heard the same thing about her saying that to Kate Winslet. Also, in her Sense & Sensibility diaries, when she finds out the little girl who plays their youngest sister is worried about her weight, she tells her to knock that off and jokingly stuffs a biscuit in her mouth. And then wonders to herself if it really starts that early.

  4. Damn. Not enough that she’s a brilliant actress, fabulous writer, and general force of nature. Now she has to be sensible, too? Greedy woman.

  5. Can I say not only is that picture gorgeous, but I covet that dress like a coveting thing? Lordy. I’ve got shoes that’d be just perfect with it, demmit.

  6. Dear Media Moguls, TV, Movie, you name it,

    Quit telling skinny women to lose weight you fucking assholes.

    Best Regards,
    people with eyes

    P.S. For that matter, quit telling ANYONE to lose weight.

  7. Just googled “Emma Thompson feminist” to see if she used the label. Oh yes ma’am: http://nymag.com/movies/profiles/23775/ (warning: lots of irritating bold text). Nothing specific about weight or body image, but lots of feminist thought. She sounds like someone I want to have come over and just talk to me on my couch. Hella great.

  8. LOVE Emma Thompson. And love Atwell…hadn’t heard of her until this. That picture of her is SMOKIN’. Also, much love for Kate Winslet. Girl crushes FTW!

  9. Emma Thompson has long been a heroine of mine, but this just…(smooches Emma Thompson a lot and loves)

    No woman who looks this gorgeous should ever be berated about any part of her appearance! I may be as straight as a painfully straight thing, but my tongue is officially on the floor.

  10. I’ve long harboured a girl crush on Emma Thompson. She was smart and funny and lovely and didn’t ever seem to take herself too seriously and I love that, in anyone, film star or not. But this recent comment sends her into a rarefied place.

    I’ve never heard of Hayley Atwell but if she’s fat, I’m a monkey’s uncle. She’s gorgeous.

  11. Telling someone with that body that they need to lose weight in general is obviously ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure that changing one’s weight for film roles is a pretty standard expectation for actors. Off the top of my head are Christian Bale, who lost 60 lbs in order to portray an emaciated skeleton of a man in The Machinist, (Image.) and Vincent D’Onofrio, who gained 80 lbs to portrary “Pvt. Pyle” in Full Metal Jacket.

  12. Actually, a quick search turns up this page with more examples. Christian Bale actually appears twice, first by losing the aforementioned 60 lbs, and then gaining 100 lbs (and a good bit of muscle apparently) in 6 weeks for his next role.

  13. Emma is wonderful. If you haven’t seen THE TALL GUY, get hold of it immediately. Best sex scene ever!!! With Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblum!!! Not kidding!!!

  14. @Alice:

    I think it’s pretty widely acknoweldged Christian Bale endangered his health there in order to play a part that was supposed to be “an emaciated skeleton of a man”, where it’s not widely acknowledged that women routinely do the same thing just to play Hollywood’s idea of what all women are supposed to look like.

    Anyway, this is awesome. We should dig up some contact information for Miramax and let them know that we plan to support both of these movies, and why.

    Let’s reward studios for doing the right thing, even if they have to be put over a barrel to do it (and even if it’s more like “stopping doing the wrong thing”.) That way the next time somebody pulls an Emma, the PTB will be all the more likely to listen.

  15. alexandraerin: I think it’s pretty widely acknoweldged Christian Bale endangered his health there in order to play a part that was supposed to be “an emaciated skeleton of a man”, where it’s not widely acknowledged that women routinely do the same thing just to play Hollywood’s idea of what all women are supposed to look like.

    That’s a good point. I don’t know if her role requires some specific body form, but since they called off the requirement you’re probably right about that being the case here.

  16. “No woman who looks this gorgeous should ever be berated about any part of her appearance!”

    How about no woman should ever be berated about any part of her appearance? :)

  17. I love Emma Thompson, especially when she stars in anything with Colin Firth. And LJ, I totally sympathize with the covetization of that dress. Love it!

  18. Not only is she gorgeous, i freaking want that dress more than ANYTHING IN THE WORLD.

    and while she was told to lose weight and i really HATE that with a passion, she is actually quite a bit curvier than the hollywood norm. When i saw this post i looked at the picture first and thought 1.OMG i want that dress, and 2.Ohhh curves. model? actress? pretty! ad 3. If she’s an actress then YES another non emaciated actress!

    so i love this story. I hope she never caves in, and that she grows to love her awesome figure.

    mm, boobies….

  19. That’s exactly the kind of chutzpah we need coming from people in the business who have any kind of influence.

  20. I remember when Bridget Jones was made there was this huge thing about her gaining weight to play the role. She was actually allowed to like… eat.

  21. I am so glad that there are people like Emma out there to tell the truth- the girl is just fine (and beautiful!) as she is.

    Although I would have liked to seen the execs responses when Emma went all batshit on them.

  22. damn it! i was going to comment specifically on wanting that dress but i see i’ve been beaten to it. what do you say we all share? i had a beatles t-shirt that i shared 50-50 with a friend back in ninth grade because both of us wanted it but neither could afford to buy it alone … and my guess is that none of us here could afford that dress either : )

    RE: bridget jones — i remember hearing that renee didn’t just go and eat. she said she drank some weird shake with flax oil and spirulina and sea monkeys, and that it was vile stuff but she needed to gain quickly and she didn’t want to endanger her health by just binge eating on crap. i watched fear & loathing in las vegas the other night and had the actors commentary on (yes, me = dork) and benicio del toro said that in order to gain weight for his role he ate 16 donuts every day in the lead-up to filming. ugh. given the choice, i would go with renee’s method.

    but anyway, i agree that miss hayley here was probably not pegged for anything actually requiring her to lose weight. beyonce was told to lose 20 pounds for dreamgirls, and why, exactly?

  23. I’m assuming the reason Miramax wanted Ms Atwell to loose weight is so that she would typify the boyish flapper type so beloved of the period in which Brideshead is set, (*because, y’know, breasts weren’t actually invented until the late 40s). Which kind of makes you wonder why they cast her in the role in the first place.

    *sarcasm

  24. About Christian Bale: it’s definitely thought that he endangered himself for The Machinist. And on the extras on the Batman Begins DVD, he talks about how he *also* seemed to have gone too far in the other direction for that movie: the producers told him to bulk back up from his emaciated state, and he gained so much weight and muscle that the Batman costume had to be entirely remade (which is apparently a bit tricky). So he’s obviously an extreme case — so extreme that he surpasses even the expectations of the producers who ask him to alter his body in the first place. Extraordinary commitment to his roles or a bit of dysmorphia? You decide!

    Whereas adult female actresses do things like eat baby food to get roles where they’re supposed to be normal women, not superheroes or psychopaths.

    (Alexandra Erin all said this in a more concise way already, but I thought I’d add the bit about Batman.)

  25. Worthyourweight, you are absolutely correct. I put that very badly. Of course no woman should ever be berated about her appearance.

    (head, meet desk)

    What I was trying to say was simply that she’s gorgeous. Then I let my fingers keep typing stupid things. Thanks for calling me on that.

    Oh, and EastofWeston is absolutely right! The Tall Guy is hilarious and that sex scene is one of my all-time faves.

  26. Props to Emma, and that “fat” picture of Atwell is not fat, but gorgeous. We could use a few more “Correctly sized” women on the screen in my opinion.

  27. Neither here nor there but I remember Tom Cruise saying none of his shirts fit when he muscled up for The Last Samurai

  28. Props to Emma, and that “fat” picture of Atwell is not fat, but gorgeous. We could use a few more “Correctly sized” women on the screen in my opinion.

    Wow, Jeremy, I suspect you just wandered in here from the WordPress homepage, but just for the record, there is no contradiction between “fat” and “gorgeous” and no such thing as “correctly sized.”

  29. I knew I liked Emma for a reason, well beyond the brilliant acting. God knows she carried Kenneth Branagh’s ass for many years. Anyone ever notice how when they split up his movies went down hill?

    I can’t believe she’ s considered fat. That’s the worst thing about these stories, it’s the feeling I get when I look at a picture of that actress that they want to loose weight and I think to myself…”If she’s fat, then I must be a beached whale”.

    It’s taking sometime but that little voice is getting quieter and quieter.

  30. That is an awesome story!

    I guess I could see requesting weight loss of an actor if it was for a starving or anorexic or iconically thin role. It would definitely be bad for the actor’s health, but actors agree to do stuff that may not be optimal for their health all the time in the larger service of the role, and I guess that’s their choice. But as alexandraerin said, it seems mighty suspicious that every female role in Hollywood is envisioned as BMI-underweight, except the sassy fat friend or the person who loses weight and finds her true self during the movie. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, though.

    Although Hayley Atwell is gorgeous and (on an unrelated note) in no way fat or even not-thin, I can see why Miramax deemed her “Hollywood fat.” And that is just incredibly depressing. No wonder actresses are eating baby food. When she kicks the role’s ass we’ll probably be forced to hear all kinds of drivel about Hollywood’s new “curvy” or even “plus-sized” sensation, complete with retelling of the Emma Thompson story and plenty of “You go, girl”s and “The rest of those actresses should eat a sandwich”es. Then she’ll lose weight “to get more roles” and become “acceptable” (i.e. way too thin for her natural size and shape, also known as a size 0 or 2 like everyone else in Hollywood) but still be considered “the curvy one” for no reason. We are all crazy.

  31. Spacedcowgirl, that is a depressing and probably sadly accurate vision of what will happen with Hayley Atwell and the media (although you left out the part where the mean-spirited gossip sites talk constantly about how OMG FAT she is.)

    Still though, Emma Thompson is awesome. I know I loved her for a reason.

  32. I’m a long time fan of Emma Thompson’s, and I just love this story! But I totally disagree with those who have said they can “see why” the Hollywood producers thought Hayley Atwell was “fat”. That is just nonsense really.

  33. buffpuff u know that reminds me i read somewhere, maybe in paul campos’ book or maybe in gina kolata’s, that the actual flapper girls were still on average more full figured than the hollywood “norms” of today. interesting, that.

  34. I didn’t say she IS fat. (And I don’t equate fat with unattractive so that wouldn’t really be an insult in my brain if I did.) I said I can see why the film producers wanted her to lose weight, by which I mean if I inhabit their twisted, fucked-up world for a minute I can make myself see what they are seeing. They are used to dealing with and looking at Reese Witherspoon or Renee Zellweger or whomever, and this is the only feminine ideal they can envision so therefore anyone who is even incrementally bigger than that must need to lose weight. And that is hearbreaking and infuriating.

    For the record, although I in principle hate it when people guesstimate actresses’ sizes (this only leads to people assuming that Kelly Clarkson or Jennifer Love Hewitt is BMI-overweight just because they were told by Perez Hilton that they are supposed to consider her fat) I bet HA is low-BMI-normal or BMI-underweight too–not that this means anything–but by the same token I think she is slightly bigger than the current Hollywood ideal and I actually think it is harmful not to shine some light on that fact.

    I probably still won’t be able to articulate this very well, but IMO the main point here is that she is a professional and by all accounts very talented actress, whose body is nobody’s business but her own, and it is disgusting that Miramax would attempt to fuck with a young woman’s health and body image by telling her to lose weight, regardless of whether she is fat or not. (She is not, but as I say, that is not the point.) Succeeding in a tough, cutthroat industry and then being told, sorry, all your talent, blood, sweat, tears, and business sense are nowhere near as important as whether you are willing to torture your body into a wee, weak shadow of its real self is like a textbook demonstration that feminism is still relevant and necessary in this country. But because I suppose this concept would make Hollywood producers’ heads explode, the secondary point IMO is that yes, maybe HA weighs a few pounds more than Renee or Nicole Kidman, but she is still objectively very thin and the fact that producers and gossip rags are only too willing to split that hair between “underweight ‘fat'” and “underweight enough” IS A PROBLEM.

    I did not in any way mean that HA “should” lose weight. That would be an absurd and destructive assertion on my part and I am sorry if it came off that way.

  35. Yeah, Becky, you’re right… I forgot the part where all the commenters on TMZ “keep it real” by cutting through all the “curvy” “euphemisms” and occupy themselves for days talking about how disgusting she is and how their hatred is justified because “fat” actresses like this only encourage our children to be obese. This will continue regardless of whether she’s on the up or down side of a diet at the time the unflattering paparazzi photo was snapped, and at no time during her career will she likely be any larger than the low end of normal on the BM(eaningless)I anyway.

    It would almost be funny if it weren’t so bewilderingly insane.

  36. I’ve loved Emma Thompson since her Shakespeare & Brit Lit movie days back in the late 80s/early 90s (Henry V, Much Ado about Nothing, Sense and Sensibility, etc.). But now I have even MORE reason to love her!

    And Atwell is beautiful!

  37. Yeah, Becky, you’re right… I forgot the part where all the commenters on TMZ “keep it real” by cutting through all the “curvy” “euphemisms” and occupy themselves for days talking about how disgusting she is and how their hatred is justified because “fat” actresses like this only encourage our children to be obese.

    Riiiight. Actresses owe it to society to be bone-thin, even if it means taking speed and chain-smoking and working out 4 hours a day and not eating anything, ever, because if they don’t, our daughters will feel free to gorge themselves on bathtubs full of fries and be FATFATFAT. They don’t realize that the gorging on bathtubs full of fries and trashing of metabolism happens because the “gold standard” for female beauty is so impossibly thin that girls diet their brains out from the time they’re 9 years old trying to meet it. God forbid we should have a society full of girls and women enjoying their food and their bodies, that would be the worst thing ever.

    Oh, and Beyonce was probably told to diet for Dreamgirls because her character was based on the reed-thin Diana Ross.

  38. Can we just say that coffee (or wine) with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman (say when they were working together in Love Actually) would pretty much make our lives.

    Because that would be pretty bloody amazing.

    If I/we could, you know, go back in time and miraculously make that happen.

  39. buffpuff u know that reminds me i read somewhere, maybe in paul campos’ book or maybe in gina kolata’s, that the actual flapper girls were still on average more full figured than the hollywood “norms” of today. interesting, that.

    It is indeed cggirl. My grandmothers were of the flapper era and living proof of that. I wrote my college thesis on fashion and the feminine ideal and, when those constricting corsets finally came off in the early part of the 20th Century there were curves and wobbly bits a plenty! My paternal grandmother
    told me that the doctor who lived next door when she was in her teens insisted all his daughters bind their breasts in the name of public decency! My great grandparents thought he was bonkers and my grandmother and her equally full-figured sisters all felt really sorry for them.

  40. Emma Thompson is clearly made of awesome. I’d just like to add that I read this story in a London paper last week, which also mentioned that not only did she threaten to drop out, but also that she would call the media and tell them exactly why she was doing so. (Unfortunately I can’t find a link to that story but I am looking.)

  41. It’s a shame really but it seems like Hollywood has reached the point with actresses where they are so afraid that their talent is not enough to carry them to fame that they must also force them to fit into an ideal image as well. And I don’t just mean becoming skinny as a rail but also having clear skin, big boobs, lightly defined muscles, etc, etc… Emma Thompson and other women of her generation come in all sizes and shapes. Think about Sally Field vs. Tilda Swanson vs. Meryl Streep and then try to think of three different actresses who are all under the age of 30. It’s possible but still a bit hard. You can kind of see it with the actors as no one dares to gain weight or let themselves go unless they are Jack Nicholson or someone older with an equally impressive portfolio. But IMHO it is nowhere nearly the same as it is for actresses. I wonder if it is the constant “camera” that is on the actresses that contributes to this. Then again I could be talking complete nonsense and if I am, I apologize, not everyone is blessed with the ability to write concise, beautiful comments :)

    On a different note, I’m happy Emma had the guts to say something but even happier that the studio listened. Though the pessimistic side in me wonders if the damage has already been done to Ms. Atwell’ s self esteem.

  42. Hayley = gorgeous.

    Miramax = a bunch of plonkers, but clearly plonkers who know which side their bread’s buttered on.

    Emma Thompson = more awesome than ever.

    (And I agree with EastofWeston, The Tall Guy does contain THE funniest movie sex scene of all time. Rice Krispie-covered butts and all.)

  43. Well, all *right* Emma Thompson! I’m a fan (if you couldn’t tell by the nickname) but even moreseo hearing this, and her reaction to WInslet.

  44. Heh. I’m showing my age here, but I remember being very upset after all the publicity about Minnie Driver gaining weight to play the fat girl in “Circle of Friends” and then seeing the film and realizing she was still only half as wide as I was (Hollywood + 15 pounds = shamefully fat). And I was about 100 lbs smaller back then.

    Of course, I should have known better than to go see a movie theoretically based on a book I liked in the first place.

  45. You want to hear age, HeatherRadish? Heh. I remember Donna Pescow stuffing herself to gain 20 or 25 lbs for Saturday Night Fever…and subsequently never being able to lose it. I was quite a fan of hers and enjoyed her show, but she was ever after (at least up til the last time I saw her) a BBW.

    It was apparently also in Vivian Vance’s contract with I Love Lucy that she had to remain 20 lbs “overweight” to stay on the show. Nice, huh?

  46. I have pretty much the exact same body as Hayley Atwell and it makes me really happy to read all of you talking about how gorgeous she is because it helps me feel better about my own body. It’s weird because I look at her body and see “beautiful” and then look at my own in the mirror and see “unacceptably fat”. Sigh.

    Damn, I love this blog so much. It’s really helping me work on this shit.

  47. “I have pretty much the exact same body as Hayley Atwell and it makes me really happy to read all of you talking about how gorgeous she is because it helps me feel better about my own body. It’s weird because I look at her body and see “beautiful” and then look at my own in the mirror and see “unacceptably fat”. Sigh.”

    Yeah, same here. Put me in that dress, and I’d look exactly the same. Big boobs and all. The skirt would look longer because I’m six inches shorter, but my build appears to be the same as hers. It makes me realize how messed up my head is, because my first thought was “Wow, she’s stunning.” Then I realized that I would look just like that in that dress. Ergo, I can’t be hideous even though I often tell myself that I am.

    Shapely Prose and the HAES movement are awesome. I’m slowly shutting off the voices that tell me to stop eating, not to eat things that I like, to count calories down to fractions of ounces and teaspoons, to call myself a fat pig for not fitting into a size two. Screw Hollywood. Screw the diet culture. Screw the society that wants women starved and silent.

  48. God, I want to have an Indian Leg Wrestling match with HA. And Emma Thompson. (Not necessarily at the same time.)

    It’s a lesbian thing. I think you can picture it.

  49. That saying always puzzles me, “ate like a bird”. As anyone with a bird-feeder will know, birds are GLUTTONS, and rightfully so. They have to have enough energy to FLY, for goodness’ sake. Also, English robins would not under any circumstances be cute as buttons (which they are) if they weren’t rotund. They’re even cuter during winter because they’re fat as blazes and damned if I don’t just want to snuggle them.

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