It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years since moviegoers first met Nanny McPhee. Emma Thompson’s no-nonsense portrayal of the homely-yet-helpful nanny had such a positive impact on audiences that a second installment, “Nanny McPhee Returns,” is opening in theaters this week.
We recently caught up with the esteemed actress and the film’s writer to discuss why she waited so long to continue her McPhee story (which is based on Christianna Brand’s “Nurse Matilda” books) and how being the screenwriter/actress makes the filmmaking experience doubly satisfying.
“There was a big gap … four years, so I had lots of time to do other things,” she explained. Those other things included six films (“Stranger Than Fiction,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Last Chance Harvey” — a performance for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe — “An Education,” just to name a few) and getting back to work on writing another “McPhee” installment.
“It’s very different to reprise a character if you’ve also written the story,” Thompson said. “You have so much invested in the story, and because I have so much involvement in casting and seeing it come together, there’s something hugely satisfying about it, so it’s not just a question of, suddenly I turn up on set and I have to put the makeup on. I’ve been sitting and writing it for years, literally.”
Thompson said that, despite the role requiring considerable time in hair and makeup, the fact that the material she wrote inspired it makes it extra special: “In a sense, putting the costume on is the reward for having sat on my own for a few years writing the story.”
“Nanny McPhee” opens Friday and co-stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans and Maggie Smith and features cameos by Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Nanny McPhee Returns.”
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