Acclaimed British actress and writer Emma Thompson was born into a show business family in London: her father was the writer and narrator of a popular children's television series, and her mother was an actress. While studying for an English degree at University of Cambridge, Thompson became the first female member of Footlights, the university's sketch comedy troupe. Fellow members included Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Thompson's first two television roles came in shows created by Fry and Laurie: first in their 1982 sketch comedy series There's Nothing to Worry About!, and then in their 1983 show The Crystal Cube. She next appeared with the pair on the sketch show Alfresco for two seasons, from 1983 - 1984.
In 1985, Thompson starred in a West End revival of the musical Me and My Girl, earning rave reviews. In 1988, she won her first BAFTA for her role in two different 1987 television miniseries - Fortunes of War and Tutti Frutti. In 1989, Thompson reunited with her Fortunes of War costar Kenneth Branagh in a Judi Dench-directed revival of the play Look Back in Anger. She also starred in Branagh's screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V that same year.
The next year came her film debut, the romantic comedy The Tall Guy. Also in 1989, she reunited with her Fortunes of War costar Kennth Branagh in his screen adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V. She would go on to star in his staged productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream and King Lear, as well as his 1993 film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing.
1993 brought an onslaught of awards for Thompson for her role in the 1992 film Howards End, based on the E.M. Forster novel. She won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA, as well as several critics association's awards, for her performance as Margaret Schlegel in the film. In 1994, she was nominated for two more Academy Awards for her performances in In the Name of the Father and The Remains of the Day, only the eighth performer ever to be nominated for two Oscars in the same year.
Thompson achieved another Oscar record in 1996, when she won the award for Best Adapted screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, a film she also starred in. She is the only performer in history to have won Oscars for both writing and acting. Other films of note include Love Actually, Nanny McPhee, which she also wrote, Stranger Than Fiction, An Education, Brave, Saving Mr. Banks, and the Harry Potter series. She will next appear in the live action Beauty and the Beast adaptation as Mrs. Potts.
Thompson has also remained active in television. She won her first Emmy for a 1997 guest appearance on the tv series Ellen, and was subsequently nominated for her roles in the TV movie Wit, the miniseries Angels in America, and the TV movie The Song of Lunch. In 2014, her performance as Mrs. Lovett in the musical Sweeney Todd was televised as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series.