Emma Thompson is an extremely accomplished actress and screenwriter that continues to thrive in her now decades-long career. She played iconic roles in films based on Shakespearean plays and Jane Austen’s novels to starring in comedies to being part of the Harry Potter franchise.

She has acted in over 70 films and has 14 writing credits to her name for various films and television shows including the recent 2019 film Last Christmas. Thompson continually challenges herself by accepting new and exciting roles and continuing her screenwriting. Her career shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon and we can’t wait to see what’s next for her!

10 Pirate Radio (2009) – 7.4

Pirate Radio boasts a stellar cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, and Kenneth Branagh. The story tells of a group that sailed out in the 1960s to play rock over the airwaves as a “pirate radio station.” Emma Thompson has a small role as Carl’s (Bill Nighy’s godson) mother who is sent to live with them on the ship. The movie has mixed reviews, but is a fun overall romp that has a great soundtrack!

9 Henry V (1989) – 7.5

This Kenneth Branaugh directed adaptation of the famous Shakespearean play about the young King trying to unite his people and find a Queen to unite France and England under his rule. Kenneth Branaugh plays the titular Henry V and Emma Thompson plays the French princess Katharine. It’s one of the best adaptations of the play, it gives a source material a grittier feel as it should because a lot of the play takes place during battles. It’s a great movie to watch for any Shakespeare lover and shows the incredible range of Emma Thompson as an actress!


8 Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – 7.5

Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of the author of Mary Poppins, played by Emma Thompson, and the process of her meeting Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and him charming her into letting him adapt her books into the Disney movie. She has a strong connection to the book and story as it’s based on her own childhood.

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It shows her as a stern and proud woman with a strict and proper British accent that seems to be all but impervious to Disney’s charms, but once he understands her position they are able to work together and create the classic film that we know and love today.

7 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) -7.5

In the fifth movie of the Harry Potter franchise, we see the characters and movies switch to a darker tone. The first few movies of the series had evil ever-present, but in the distance, this is the first movie in the series that shows how strong the evil forces can be and the major character deaths begin.

Emma Thompson has a very small part as the Divination teacher at Hogwarts. It is a continuation in the series that definitely needs to be watched in order to understand the characters and events.

6 Stranger Than Fiction (2006) – 7.6

Stranger Than Fiction is a comedy-drama with a fantastical twist that stars Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson. Will Ferrell is a normal man with a normal life until one day he starts hearing a voice in his head narrating every action he does. He figures out the voice belongs to an author, played by Emma Thompson, and he begins to understand his life is fictional, similar to The Truman Show. It’s a fun and interesting story with a lot of serious moments to balance the silliness.

5 Sense and Sensibility (1995) – 7.6

This adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel of the same name stars Emma Thompson in the lead role as Elinor Dashwood. The period piece focuses on Thompson and her two sisters who are left destitute by their half-brother John despite their father’s wishes.

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Thompson also wrote the screenplay for this film, her first time being credited as a writer, before being cast in the lead role. The stellar reviews show that Thompson is certainly a capable writer along with always bringing a competent and impressive performance as an actress.

4 Love Actually (2003) – 7.6

Love Actually is a collection of stories from different characters that are eventually revealed to all have intertwining stories. Emma Thompson plays a character who is married to Alan Rickman. Although the movie is set during Christmas and on the surface many of the stories are bright and colorful and light, underneath there is a lot of depth and suffering in the world.

Thompson’s character figures out that her husband is possibly having an affair with a secretary at work and has a break down for a moment listening to a Joni Mitchell CD, but she has to quickly wipe away her tears when her children call for her. It’s an incredibly empathetic moment that proves Emma Thompson is a fantastic actress.

3 The Remains of the Day (1993) – 7.8

The Remains of the Day is a drama based on the award-winning book of the same name. The story switches back and forth between present and past as butler Stevens (played by Anthony Hopkins) goes on a journey to find Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) and reminiscences about his time at Darlington Hall as he reacted to his former employers’ scandals and his deep caring for then housekeeper and co-worker Miss Kenton.

The film has fantastic reviews and was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins, and Best Actress for Emma Thompson.

2 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – 7.9

The third installment in the Harry Potter franchise focuses on Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, who are introduced as characters in this movie. Sirius Black is a wanted murderer and Remus Lupin shows up at Hogwarts as their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry soon realizes he has a close connection to both of them and all might not be what it seems. Emma Thompson is introduced as the quirky and mystical Professor Sybill Trelawney. She teaches a Divination class the main three attend and she gives Harry a chilling warning of a dark omen.

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1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) – 8.1

The final movie of the series sees the epic conclusion of Harry Potter versus Voldemort that has been looming over the first seven movies. Again, this is definitely a series that warrants watching in order before you get to the final movie. Emma Thompson reprises her role as Professor Trelawney and helps the side of good in the battle of Hogwarts. The movie has great reviews and is regarded as a fitting end to the franchise.

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