Emma Thompson has branded the pressure put on female actors to be thin as “evil” and says the problem is getting worse.
On a Swedish chat show, another guest brought up the issue of weight loss and the two-time Oscar-winner revealed she threatened to quit the 2008 British film Brideshead Revisited when a co-star was told to lose weight.
Thompson didn’t reveal the name of the actor, but confirmed that she confronted producers of the film over the issue.
“There are so many kids, girls and boys now, and actresses who are very, very thin, who are into their 30s, who simply don’t eat,” she said.
“There was a wonderful actress I was working with on something called Brideshead Revisited.
“The producers said to her, ‘Will you lose some weight?’ She was absolutely exquisite.
“I said to them, ‘If you speak to her about this again, on any level, I will leave this picture. You are never to do that’.
“It’s evil, what’s happening, what’s going on out there, and it’s getting worse.”
Brideshead Revisited, a film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel, was released in 2008 and starred Thompson, Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell. Other female actors in the film included Felicity Jones and Greta Scacchi.
Thompson also joked that Hollywood’s obsession over weight prevented her from living there. “I never moved to the US,” she said. “I couldn’t. Can you imagine? Every time I go to LA I think, ‘Oh God, I am too fat to go there.’”
The actor was similarly critical of the fashion industry. “The French fashion industry said, ‘We will get rid of Size Zero,’ and didn’t,” she said. “There are some subjects you have to keep making noises about because it’s so tedious, and it’s gone on and on.”
She added that when she is asked about her weight while auditioning for a role, her response is, “Sorry, do you want me to be an actress or a model?”
The actor has spoken in the past about looking out for her younger female co-stars.
Speaking to UK Radio Times in 2015, Thompson expressed dismay that many of the gender issues facing women in the industry now are the same as those facing her when she started out nearly 40 years ago.
“I get behind as many young female performers as I can. A lot of the conversations I have with them are about exactly the fact that we are facing and writing about the same things and nothing has changed.
“Some forms of sexism and unpleasantness to women have become more entrenched and indeed more prevalent,” she said.
“When I was younger, I really did think we were on our way to a better world and when I look at it now, it is in a worse state than I have known it, particularly for women and I find that very disturbing and sad.”
In a 2007 interview, Kate Winslet revealed that, while working with Thompson on the film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility in the 1990s, Thompson had taken her aside and said “If you ever lose weight, I will never… talk to you again.”
Earlier this week MiNDFOOD reported Winslet’s inspirational speech to 12,000 British teens in which she revealed how schoolyard taunts about her weight forced her to “rise above it all” and achieve her dream of becoming an actress.