Emma Thompson reveals her real-life heartbreak inspired that emotional ‘Love Actually’ scene

alan rickman emma thompson
alan rickman emma thompson
(Image credit: Rex)

It's perhaps one of the most poignant movie scenes of all time when Emma Thompson's Love Actually character discovers that a necklace in her husband's coat is not meant for her - but a gift for another woman.

Earlier in the movie, her character, Karen, spotted the stunning piece of jewellery hiding in her husband's pocket. Later, she expects to unwrap the necklace from Harry (played by Alan Rickman) - only to find that there's a Joni Mitchell album in its place.

Karen then retreats into the bedroom, allowing a few solitary tears to roll down her cheeks as the realisation that her husband bought the gift for another women sets in.

And just to add to the emotion of the scene, Emma Thompson has revealed that her heartfelt reaction wasn't purely down to her acting skills, as she had experiencedher own, real-life heartbreak some years before

At a recent event, speaking about her marriage to fellow actor Kenneth Brannagh, she admitted, "That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through.


"I had my heart very badly broken by Ken. So I knew what it was like to find the necklace that wasn’t meant for me.

"Well it wasn’t exactly that, but we’ve all been through it."

It's long been alleged that Kenneth Brannagh cheated on Emma with actress Helena Bonham Carter.

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Rex)

Emma and Kenneth began a relationship back in 1987, when they met on the set of a BBC drama. The couple married two years later, in 1989. But it's thought that Kenneth met Helena on the set of 1994 film Frankenstein.

Soon after, in 1995, Emma Thompson and Kenneth filed for divorce. And he and Helena went on to have a relationship, until 1999.

Discussing the heartbreak, Emma has previously admitted to the Sunday Times that she's had to put it all behind her now.

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Rex)

Referencing the devastating Love Actually scene, she said, "I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful. Gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer."

She also said she holds no resentment for the pair now, saying it is "all blood under the bridge".

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"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."

emma thompson family

emma thompson family
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

Emma is now happily married to fellow actor, and producer Greg Wise. The couple married in 2003, and have two children, Gaia, and Tindyebwa.

Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is an experienced digital journalist specialising in homes, interiors and hobbies. She began her career working as the features assistant at woman&home magazine, before moving over to the digital side of the brand where she eventually became the Lifestyle Editor up until January 2022. Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards in 2019 for her work on womanandhome.com.