Emma Thompson says ‘romantic love is a myth’ and ‘actually quite dangerous’

Dame Emma Thompson has opened up about her view of romantic love and the longevity of romantic relationships.

In a new interview, the 63-year-old discussed her role in the new romcom What’s Love Got to Do With It?, the actor said she believes that romantic love “is a myth and actually quite dangerous”.

In the film, Thompson plays Cath, the mother of documentary maker Zoe (played by Lily James) who makes a film about her best friend’s assisted marriage.

She addressed the theme of love and long-term relationships that are explored in the film. “It’s philosophically helpful and uplifting to remember that romantic love is a myth and actually quite dangerous,” she said in the latest instalment of the Radio Times podcast.

“We really do have to take [romantic love] with a massive pinch of salt.”

“To think sensibly about love and the way it can grow is essential if we’re going to live long lives,” Thompson added.

The actor suggested that the “happily ever after” narrative doesn’t exist and that long-term commitment is often turbulent.

​​”Long-term relationships are hugely difficult and complicated. If anyone thinks that happy ever after has a place in our lives, forget it, and that’s what this film is about really,” she said.

Dame Emma Thomspon it’s ‘helpful’ to remember that ‘romantic love is a myth’ (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Dame Emma Thomspon it’s ‘helpful’ to remember that ‘romantic love is a myth’ (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Thompson, who has been married to her Sense and Sensibility co-star Greg Wise for 20 years, was previously married to Belfast actor Kenneth Branagh from 1989 to 1995.

Thompson previously revealed that she drew upon the heartbreak she experienced following her past relationship with Branagh. The couple’s marriage broke down in 1994 after Branagh had an affair with his Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein co-star Helena Bonham Carter in 1994.

“That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through,” she told The Telegraph, adding: “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.”

In November, Thompson said that heartbreak often makes the heart stronger, appearing on Diane Sawyer’s ABC special The Laughter & Secrets of Love Actually: 20 Years Later.

“I so get it,” Thompson said of the film’s 20-year popularity. “We forget, time and time again we forget, that love is all around us.”

“It’s all that matters. My grandmother used to say your heart’s no good as a heart until it’s been broken 10 times,” she said. “There’s something about the scar tissue that makes it stronger.”