By Andrea Karen Hammer
From the minute a film begins, some actors and actresses immediately grab viewers’ interest and immerse them in a story, which they bring to life. They fit together naturally as couples who play to each others’ strengths–and challenge their characters’ weaknesses. Each one is a formidable talent individually, creating a force to behold when they are on screen together.
Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins are a leading on-screen couple in two award-winning dramatic films, which have withstood the test of time.
Nominated for nine Academy Awards, Howards End was the winner for Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Art Direction.
As Margaret Schlegel, Emma Thompson rightfully deserves this recognition for her standout performance. In this stunning adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel set in Edwardian England, she adds depth and dimension to this tale as the decorum-upholding sister paired with the spirited Helen (Helena Bonham Carter). Her subtly nuanced performance shifts imperceptibly from her role as the compassionate friend of the dying Ruth (who Vanessa Redgrave plays with ethereal frailty) to the wife of the widowed Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins).
With signature restraint, the actor provides testimony to the principle that less is more. Often without saying a word, Anthony Hopkins can convey an expression of contained yet explosive pain, which can split others in two. As his worthy counterpart, he literally brings Emma Thompson to her knees in a scene that is etched in our cinematic memory book.
Remains of the Day
In another magnificent Merchant Ivory production, Oscar winners Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson reunite in this story about repressed love.
As the blindly devoted butler Stevens, the actor evokes a bygone era when service and devotion were held at a premium. The actress plays the estate’s independent-minded housekeeper who questions the upstair’s activities during the 1930s. She challenges Stevens’s look-away approach including denial about his elderly father’s ability to continue handling his own duties, which involve some of the film’s most painful yet memorable scenes.
Others placing this film in its own class involve small telling gestures with the power of an earthquake. In particular, the scene where Thompson tries to pull a book from Hopkins’s grip echoes the shattering impact of this actor’s shielded eyes when he cannot look at Thompson directly. Another heart slicer involves the pair’s reunion–and parting–at the end of Remains of the Day.
Your Thoughts About Dynamic On-Screen Couples
Why do you think that Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins are a leading on-screen couple in these two award-winning dramatic films? What other on-screen pairs reveal the same type of cinematic power?
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