"I was utterly, utterly blind." When Kenneth Branagh was having his affair, Emma Thompson was clueless.

For a few years across the '80s and '90s, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh were Britain’s 'Golden Couple' - stars of the screen and stage who had fallen in love.

But in the early 1990s, all of that would unravel when Thompson learned of her husband's affair with Helena Bonham Carter.

Thompson has shared aspects of the breakup over the three decades since, but has recently admitted she was "blind" to his behaviour.

Here’s everything we know about their high-profile split, and Thompson’s life since.

Branagh and Thompson married in 1989 after two years of dating. They had met on the set of Fortunes of War and hit it off, becoming an item almost immediately.

Thompson and Branagh on their wedding day. Image: Getty.


Both were supremely talented actors with booming careers, making them something like the Brad and Jen of the British film industry. However, Branagh soon proved to have something of a wondering eye, beginning an affair with fellow famous actress, Helena Bonham Carter, while filming Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1994.

"I was utterly, utterly blind to the fact that he had relationships with other women on set," Thompson told the New Yorker recently.

"What I learned was how easy it is to be blinded by your own desire to deceive yourself," she added, hinting that there might have been a small part of her that knew all along, but ignored what was happening.

Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter. Image: Getty.


 After the split, Thompson says she "was half alive".

“Any sense of being a lovable or worthy person had gone completely,” she added.

However, if there’s any positive to be found from the situation, Thompson was able to channel the awful feelings from her divorce into a very famous scene that would come later on in her career.

In her 2003 performance in Love, Actually, Thompson’s character, Karen, is also cheated on by her husband. Upon finding out, she excuses herself from her family to cry quietly in her bedroom, away from prying eyes. It’s a scene that has resonated with women in the almost 20 years since the film’s release.

"That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through," Thompson explained while speaking at a fundraiser in 2018.

"I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom," she also told The Telegraph of the scene. 

"Then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer."


Thompson in Love, Actually. Image: Universal Pictures.

 As for their relationship now, Thompson says it is "all blood under the bridge. You can’t hold on to anything like that."

"It’s pointless. I haven’t got the energy for it… Helena and I made our peace years and years ago… she’s a wonderful woman," she added.

All three actors went on to star in the Harry Potter film franchise together, albeit in different storylines and in different films. 

Thompson also married again - with actor Greg Wise. They will soon celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.

"I’ve learned more from my second marriage just by being married," Thompson said. 


"As my mother says, 'the first 20 years are the hardest'."

Emma Thompson with her husband, Greg Wise, and their children, Gaia and Tindyebwa. Image: Getty.

Wise and Thompson had two children together.

Their daughter, Gaia Wise, was born in 1999 when Thompson was 39, with the pregnancy made possible via IVF.

Their son, Tindyebwa Agaba Wise, was adopted by Thompson and Wise when he was a teenager. He attended a charity dinner at Thompson’s house through the Refugee Council. They could barely communicate, but signed things to each other, and laughed together. 


"Slowly, he became a sort of permanent fixture, came on holiday to Scotland with us, became part of the family," Thompson told The Telegraph.

She says that having Tindyebwa as her son has opened her eyes to everyday racism.

"When a person has been 'othered'… when their status and motives have been doubted in the press and by voices of government, their humanity is often reduced in other people's eyes. ... [They] all too easily become seen as a burden at best, and at worst as grasping interlopers," she explained

"Witnessing Tindy growing up has been a continual lesson in the day-to-day challenges that refugees and asylum seekers face — from language and not being able to express yourself or to say what you need, which is a very vulnerable position to be in, to finding the right kind of schooling, to facing everyday racism."

She says that today Tindyebwa is married and has a very fascinating job.

"And they take nothing for granted unlike, let's face it, a lot of us who haven't come here under those circumstances," Thompson said of refugees like her son. 

"So what they have to offer as citizens of this country is often profoundly valuable."

Feature Image: Getty.

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