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  • Paula Mueller and Adelie Scheffler

Interview with Emma Thompson 

On the 13th of December 2022 a small group of our student magazine had the incredible opportunity to have an interview with Emma Thompson. Emma, who many know from her role as Professor Trilawny in ‘Harry Potter’ or Karen in ‘Love Actually’, is a double Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, who had recently written a Christmas book named ‘Jims Spectacular Christmas’ which was illustrated by Axel Scheffler, who has illustrated over a hundred children’s books including ‘The Gruffalo’ and ‘Stick Man’. Our interview took place in the Douglas House right before Dame Thompson and Axel Scheffler talked about their book in the forum. From the moment Emma walked into the conference room of Douglas House where we held our interview, it was absolute fun. She was very funny and nice to everyone. When walking in she hugged everyone as a greeting and politely introduced herself to each one of us. It was never very serious at any moment due to her funny and lively personality. There was a some talking, even before the interview. She told us jokingly that she “knicked a pretzel” from the snack table and her husband, who was also very friendly and down to earth, joked around about Emma speaking German which she, unlike him, does in fact not. Instead, she told us that she can speak Italian, French, Spanish and English. She then proceeded to have a conversation in Spanish with Miss Bernardino. When we eventually got to the actual interview, we asked her if she had any pets since her new book is about a dog named Jim. She told us that she has never had a dog since she isn’t much of a dog person and “animals need you to be there”, which as an actress she is not, due to constant travelling. However, she used to have a cat named Boot. She told us that she prefers normal animal names over extravagant ones. When being asked if she herself sends Christmas cards since it is a big theme of her new book, she explained that they used to send Christmas cards every year but when they became more aware of climate change, they stopped. “We look through the ones that we get and if there’s one that makes us feel guilty, we send them a card”. The ones that make her “feel guilty” are the ones that have actual writing on it and feel heartfelt. Emma dislikes how some people send thoughtless Christmas cards without actually meaning it. She described them as “automatic cards”. Emma has starred in several Christmas films and has even written one. She has also recently written a Christmas related book. Because these works must have been created a long time before Christmas, we wondered whether it was difficult for her to get into a festive spirit before actual Christmas time. Emma describes that getting into a Christmassy mood, was not difficult for her, because as soon as she would see a Christmas tree, she would immediately feel festive. She also points out that most of the Christmas films she has starred in, have surprisingly been filmed around Christmas. Emma reveals that “When [they] shot Last Christmas, [they] shot [it] before Christmas at night in Regent Street – it would have been too expensive for [them] to put up the lights so it was cheaper and easier to film at that time of the year.”. She beams and explains that it was lovely shooting the movie that close to Christmas among all the bright lights of festive London, and I am sure that anyone who has strolled through the dazzling streets at the heart of England’s capital around that time of the year would agree. We ask her if she as any connections to Germany and Emma directly jumps to the filming of “Alone in Berlin” mentioning that it was not only shot in Berlin but also in a small city at the border of Poland and Germany. She also reveals that she is due to shoot a film in Bavaria and exclaims her joy at being able to shoot in the snow. We wondered if she means real snow and surprisingly, she explains that films are often shot in actual snow regardless of the cold which must only get worse after the long hours of retaking scene after scene. However, Emma actually says that she prefers real snow to the paper version used as an alternative, as the dust of the paper gets into your eyes after several hours of filming and makes them red and soar. We move on and ask Emma if Christmas is a contender for her favourite time of year. She answers that it is one of her favourites and gives the credit for that to her family which was not only loving but also really enjoyed Christmas when she was a child. However, she states that this is pure luck and acknowledges that for many, Christmas can be one of the toughest times of the year. At the question of whether her love for Christmas is shared by her family, she jokes that she has had to force her husband to make him like Christmas, whilst again reinforcing the light atmosphere of the interview. Paula hands Emma a homemade stollen loaf and she exclaims with joy that “There are many things about Christmas that [she] love[s] and most of them are German.”. As a person who loves Christmas it seems that a Christmas tree is unavoidable, yet Emma is not unaware of the changing climate and ecological problems a Christmas tree poses. She tells us that every year she rents a tree that arrives ready for Christmas and for her and her family to take care of, before it is handed back to be kept safe for another year. Throughout this interview, we have gotten to know Emma a little better and by her beaming smile and openness she has really made this interview a very special experience.

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