Ms. Thompson was born in Paddington, London on the 15th of April, 1959. She was born the eldest of two daughters begotten by the late Eric Thompson (the creator of the children's show, The Magic Roundabout) and actress Phyllida Law. Emma's younger sister is actress Sophie Thompson.
She enrolled in Newnham College, at Cambridge and joined the Footlights. It was at this time that agent Richard Armitage saw her and offered her a contract while she was still two years from graduating. She did not accept, but rather went on to graduate in 1982. After Cambridge, she spent some months as a standup comédienne. Following this she joined back up with a couple of her Footlights colleagues (Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry) and created a sketch comedy program called AlFresco in 1983. It was later, in 1987, with her career well underway that she met Kenneth Branagh. They fell in love during the filming of The Fortunes of War (1987), a UK mini series, and were married in August 1989.
Throughout the early nineties her career reached its peak. In 1992 she won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her role in Howard's End. The following year she also won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for supporting actress in Jim Sheridan's In The Name Of The Father and won Best Actress for her performance in The Remains of the Day. It was in 1995 that she indulged another part of her persona, writing; her screenplay for Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility was huge box office success and won her yet another Oscar. Unfortunately, it was also in 1995 that her marriage with Branagh came to an end over his suspected affair with Helena Bonham Carter, his co-star in a production of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
She is now married to Greg Wise. It is of interest to note that she might have played "God" in Kevin Smith's Dogma had she not been pregnant with her first child, Gaia Romilly Wise.