A Minute With: Emma Thompson as "Nanny McPhee"

Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:29pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Emma Thompson is no stranger to success, but when her movie "Nanny McPhee," which she wrote and starred-in, turned in $122 million in global ticket sales in 2005, it surprised many industry watchers.

Friday, the two-time Oscar winner (adapted screenplay for "Sense and Sensibility" and lead actress in "Howard's End") again puts on the scary-looking makeup for the tough-minded nanny who whips kids into shape for "Nanny McPhee Returns."

The new movie has McPhee turning up at the door of the Greens. The father has gone to war, the mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is beside herself trying to take care of their two kids and the family farm, and just when she thought she couldn't take anymore, two more youngsters from the city show up, touching off childish battles among the kids.

Thompson, 51, spoke to Reuters about her writing and the "Nanny McPhee" movies, which are loosely based on books about another stern nanny, Nurse Matlida.

Q: Did you read the Nurse Matilda stories as a kid?

A: "I did, and then I happened to be dusting the bookshelves in my library -- well, it's not a library, it's a room with lots of books in it -- and I found this little book. I'd just finished 'Sense and Sensibility,' and I had a feeling there was something very cinematic about this character (Nurse Matilda) because her face changes from the beginning to the end -- although she doesn't change internally -- to the kids?

"We are bound, at the moment, by an insistence on very shallow beauty and having things that are supposed to make you look a particular way, which I find deeply worrying and which hasn't contributed to the sum human happiness in any way, at all. To me, she's a great rebellion against all that."

Q: Nanny McPhee is not Mary Poppins. Poppins was spoonful of sugar. McPhee is all about tough love. Why is that better?   Continued...

<p>Emma Thompson drinks a pint from the pub her star is in front of as she poses with Monkey the Pig after being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, August 6, 2010. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas</p>