If you want to know why I have had such a hard time sharing my adventures in Los Angeles in real time from the AFI festival which wrapped on Thursday, blame Emma Thompson. She killed me!
The truth is that I get far less starstruck these days than I did a handful of years ago when I first began interviewing celebrities regularly. But sometimes my inner child still spazzes out, and comes bouncing to the surface like a squealing fanboy. I know I'm supposed to be embarrassed by this but the truth is that it feels good.
Enthusiasm is a form of social courage"
-Gretchen Rubin, Happiness Guru
I never want to be one of those jaded film critics who has seen it all and doesn't enjoy anything. So... back to that Saving Mr Banks party. After chatting with Colin Farrell I was introduced to Emma Thompson who is holding up really well at 54. She looks, I apologize in advance, practically perfect in every way. And as one of my formative actresses, I was quite taken aback to be face to face with her, sipping cocktails.
Small talk: we both love the decor at the party, little drawings from the making of Mary Poppins on each table and I pretend to lift one and shove it under my jacket. Eventually -- because I am me -- the conversation drifts to Howard's End (1992). I don't remember quite how we got there but Emma, politely sidestepped the questions about the past and, like a consummate pro, pulla it back to a soundbite ready encapsulation of both my movie nostalgia AND the theme of her new film, in which the author P.L. Travers (Thompson) has a really difficult time parting with her fictional nanny Mary Poppins:
Sometimes you just have to let things go."
And then Emma Freaking Thompson places her hand on my shoulder ...and I died. Using me for balance, she removes her shoes! As if on cue, her assistant materializes from nowhere to grab them. What should she do with them?
"Throw them away. They're garbage." Emma instructs.
"Speaking of letting things go!" I interject awkwardly, amused that the theme has been literalized. As it turns out Emma quite likes the shoes and it's not from lack of sentiment but practicality - she got cement on them across the street at her handprint ceremony. I help her find Colin Farrell for a smoke break and they're off, Emma weaving through the cocktail party in her stockings.
Half an hour later director John Lee Hancock introduces his cast at the front of the giant Chinese Theater. Emma, who apparently can't let a running motif go, removes her new pair of shoes while walking to take her bow, doing a little sideways hopping dance in the process. At this point, though, I'm happily back where I belong, munching on popcorn in my movie seat dreaming about movie stars. The movie begins in the clouds but I'm already there.