1. She can act
Not a pre-requisite for stardom by any means, but thankfully Thompson passes the test. She has excelled in starring roles (Howard’s End), supporting roles (In the Name of the Father), TV (Angels in America) and cameo roles (An Education). But the true test of a star actor is being the best thing about a bad film, and that’s how I’d classify her turn in Love Actually - a film whose most moving scene involves nothing but Thompson and a Joni Mitchell CD.
2. She can write too
Indeed, she is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter (for her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility) and the only person ever to win Oscars for both acting and writing. Thompson has focused more on the latter in recent years, explaining “I don't see how I could be as effective a mother as I'd like to be if I had to go away and act all the time”. Forthcoming projects include her intriguingly unlikely (and potentially disastrous) collaboration with none other than Jay-Z on a new adaptation of Annie.
3. She has the right attitude to awards
Famously, Thompson kept her two Oscars in her bathroom. This in itself never impressed me - it’s so knowingly self-deprecating that it’s almost ostentatious - until I heard that she since moved the statuettes to her study to make room for her daughter’s artwork. Now that’s the right attitude.
4.…And to awards ceremonies
Actors are the natural stars of awards ceremonies, and all the best ones know that the trick to not appearing an over-indulgent, over-reacting egoist is to have fun - and let the audience have fun too. Thompson has always provided amusement in her acceptance speeches, famous collecting her screenwriting Oscar “on behalf” of Jane Austen. If further proof of her attitude were needed, it came when Meryl Streep beat her to the Best Supporting Actress Emmy for their co-starring roles in Angels in America. Streep lavishly praised all her fellow nominees “apart from Emma Thompson, who will resent me for the rest of my life”. Clearly, she knew Thompson as a woman who could take a joke.
5.She can poke fun at herself
Like Meryl Streep, Thompson is a master at playing the self-deprecating card to please the crowds, but when you look at the vanity exhibited by her fellow thespians, it is nothing if not refreshing. As a case in point, take her anecdote shared recently on Britain’s Jonathan Ross Show. Thompson was appalled when police came to her holiday home in Scotland, reporting that a naked man had been spotted in her garden. However, she soon realised that the nude intruder was her, walking back up to her house after a skinny dip in the river. How many actresses can you imagine not only admitting that, but finding it funny