Emma Thompson Reveals The Real-Life Heartbreak That Inspired Her Love Actually Storyline

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by Katie Rosseinsky |

For all its problematic relationships and Christmas card sentiment, there’s one storyline in Love Actually that never fails to break our hearts, its emotional impact never dimmed by years of repeat viewing. We’re talking, of course, about Emma Thompson’s character Karen, who realises that her husband Harry (played by Alan Rickman) is having an affair with his secretary Mia, and about one scene in particular: when Karen retreats to her bedroom after discovering that the necklace Harry has bought is not a Christmas gift for her, but for Mia, and dissolves into tears to the strains of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now.

Now, Thompson has revealed that she drew upon a real-life heartache to bring the scene to life and channelled her memories of the breakdown of her eight-year marriage to actor Kenneth Branagh, who reportedly had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter after meeting on the set of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

‘That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through,’ Thompson told the audience at a #MeToo fundraising event last night. ‘I had my heart very badly broken by Ken. So I knew it 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.’

In a previous interview with the Sunday Times, Thompson shared her experiences of putting on a brave face through heartbreak, telling the paper ‘I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer.’

She has since, however, made peace with both Branagh and Bonham Carter, describing the latter as a ‘wonderful woman.’

‘That is [] all blood under the bridge,’ she told the paper. ‘You can’t hold on to anything like that [] It’s pointless. I haven’t go the energy for it. Helena and I made our peace years and years ago.’

NOW READ: A Definitive Ranking Of Love Actually's Problematic Relationships

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Peter and Juliet

Peter and Juliet are that couple. The ones who improbably live in a mews flat in Zone One, yet still try to spin the myth that they're struggling creative types through a combination of lo-fi sartorial choices (baker boy hats, Etsy-ish wedding dresses…) If Instagram had existed in fictional 2001, these two would've been insufferable (and they'd definitely have deployed a wedding hashtag on the big day). These two are so wrapped up in their soft-focus White Company and Waitrose lifestyle that they've neglected to notice that Peter's best mate is a Nice Guy about to go nuclear – they're not problematic so much as really, actually tedious.

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