Emma Thompson's Tragic 'Love Actually' Scene Actually Happened to Her in Real Life

She says her heart was broken after her husband Kenneth Branagh's affair with Helena Bonham Carter.

love actually
(Image credit: Love Actually)

The most heart-wrenching scene in Love Actually is when Karen discovers that her husband, Harry, bought a necklace for another woman and gave her a Joni Mitchell CD for Christmas instead. She heads to her bedroom where she breaks down as Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" plays. If you haven't cried watching that moment—actually, never mind, I don't think there's a person in existence who hasn't openly weeped watching that.

It turns out part of the reason that scene was so moving was that Emma Thompson, who plays Karen, drew from real life experience. At a fundraiser for the Tricycle Theatre in London this weekend, the actress told the audience that she'd gone through something similar with her now ex-husband, Kenneth Branagh who had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter.

Event, Suit, Fun, Formal wear,

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"That scene where my character is standing by the bed crying is so well known because it’s something everyone’s been through,” she said, according to The Telegraph. "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."

Branagh and Thompson married in 1989; in 1994, Branagh reportedly began an affair with his Mary Shelley's Frankenstein co-star Helena Bonham Carter. Thompson and Branagh announced their separation in 1995 and Branagh and Bonham Carter went on to date until 1999.

"I’ve had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer," Thompson told The Telegraph.

Hairstyle, Suit, Event, Formal wear, Fashion, Premiere, Smile, Dress, Tuxedo, Fashion design,

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Branagh, Thompson, and Bonham Carter have all moved on and worked together (at least appearing in the same franchise...) since—Harry Potter fans will recognize the actors as Professor Lockhart, Professor Trelawney, and Bellatrix Lestrange.

"That is... all blood under the bridge," Thompson told The Sunday Times of her feelings about Bonham Carter years after the affair. "You can’t hold on to anything like that. It’s pointless. I haven’t got the energy for it... Helena and I made our peace years and years ago... she’s a wonderful woman."

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis is the News Editor at Delish UK, which means she’s always either writing about food, cooking food or eating food. Anna is in charge of Delish UK’s epic food news output, ensuring you’re always up-to-date with the latest product launches, food trends, and restaurant news. She specialises in Slimming World recipes, but she’ll eat just about anything – ideally gherkins or ice-cream sandwiches (but not together).