Emma Thompson 'utterly blind' to first husband's affair with fellow A-list actor

Emma Thompson opens up about her first husband Kenneth Branagh's affair with a Harry Potter star that left her 'humiliated'

 Emma Thompson attends the Earthshot Prize 2021 at Alexandra Palace on October 17, 2021 in London, England.
(Image credit: Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images)

Emma Thompson's first husband Kenneth Branagh - known for his acting, writing, and directing credits - began seeing a co-star while they were still married. Opening up about the experience, Emma recalls the 'humiliation' she felt as a result of the betrayal.

Previously, actress Emma Thompson discussed body image and misogyny in a candid interview with woman&home, and as her latest interview proves - those aren't the only struggles she's survived in her personal and professional life.

Speaking to The New Yorker (opens in new tab), the Oscar-winning star of countless hit films including Sense and Sensibility, Nanny McPhee, Love Actually, and Harry Potter recalled the dissolution of her first marriage and how it all played out. 

Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh at the Premiere of 'Frankenstein', Cineplex Odeon Cinemas, Century City.

(Image credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images)

Emma met Kenneth in 1987 on set in Fortunes of War, and as their fame grew, so did the pressures intrinsic to life in the public eye. “I was embarrassed largely by the press version of our marriage,” she said. “We didn’t present as glamorous in any way. I don’t think we wanted to be some power couple, and we certainly didn’t feel like it."

Despite the difficulties of life in the public eye and a somewhat tumultuous and separate relationship, according to The New Yorker, the pair married two years after meeting, in 1989. Their marriage ended, six years later in 1995 amidst the success of Sense And Sensibility - the Jane Austen classic which Emma adapted for the screen as well as starred in.

The straw that broke the camel's back was Kenneth's affair with fellow actor Helena Bonham Carter, which began when the pair starred alongside each other in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1994.

Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter during "The Thoery of Flight" New York Premiere at Sony Lincoln Square in New York City, New York, United States.

(Image credit: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images)

"I was utterly, utterly blind to the fact that he had relationships with other women on set," she admitted. "What I learned was how easy it is to be blinded by your own desire to deceive yourself."

After her first marriage ended she said, “I was half alive. Any sense of being a lovable or worthy person had gone completely.”

In the years since, Emma starred alongside Helena in the Harry Potter film franchise, and back in 2013, she told The Sunday Times (opens in new tab) that she'd 'made her peace' with Helena. "You can't hold on to anything like that," she said. "It's pointless. I haven't got the energy for it. Helena and I made our peace years and years ago."

Greg Wise and Emma Thompson attend Roald Dahl's "Matilda The Musical" World Premiere at the Opening Night Gala during the 66th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 05, 2022 in London, England.

(Image credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images)

Following the dissolution of her first marriage, Emma met and fell for fellow actor Greg Wise - with whom she shares two children. Greg, who took part in UK dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing in 2021.

Emma Thompson and Greg Wise's relationship has been a learning curve, says the actor. "I've learned more from my second marriage just by being married," she admitted. "As my mother says, 'The first twenty years are the hardest.'"

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.