Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson Press ConferenceDustin Hoffman: "And then it hit me that Emma had done this scene in Love Actually that just came to me, where she's told or she finds out that her husband's been unfaithful. I told her I'd never seen a scene quite like it in films. I've seen that moment - you know, you see that many times in films - but I've never seen it executed the way she executed it. Because it was beyond acting. She gave us an entrance to her soul if you will, as corny as that sounds. And I said, 'I think we should attempt to do this piece like that,' because we spent a lifetime doing characters, quote unquote, and I don't know if we've ever done what came out of us in Chicago because we got to each other personally. And we were kind of evoking those scenes in life, like the Love Actually scene she had. And we said we would do that and with the director's agreement, ultimately, some nights having more than one camera, we would play with a scene so that neither of us knew where it was going. We knew what the scene was, but we would open it up at every single time and every take. So we really didn't know what the other one was going to do. Not really improvisation, but an improvisatory atmosphere."
"I think what came out of it, now to get to the answer to your question, was that we, in Chicago and talking about our lives, we hit on similarities that we had, and that was a certain kind of defense mechanisms that we both have. We all do that, you know? We have certain defense mechanisms that work for us, because we put them to take care of us so we don't have the same pain in life happen again. It's the guard rails. And we felt that these two characters were there and they were both frozen in life. They were meeting at a time when neither one of them had been living. She blames it on her mother, but as she says at the end of the film, it's her. I blame it on my daughter and my ex-wife and my job, whatever, but it's me. We in a sense are in it catalysts for each other. But something happens between us where I think in the subtext of it, we felt that we deserved a life. The characters did. And somehow, what married it to us, is that we felt like we deserved to do a film like this once."
Emma Thompson: "I thought of my bad date. When I was a gal..."
Dustin Hoffman: "You still are, thank you very much..."
Emma Thompson: "Thank you, you're so kind. The first job I did was a revue show in Australia. We went and did revue, Hugh Laurie, me, Stephen Fry, a couple of other [actors], we went off to Australia and did a revue. And I was the only girl and it was pretty difficult because the guys were very guy-ee. They're very, very clever, and they used to practice their cricket in the dressing room and I just kind of finally felt that I had to make a stand. So I started going out with a male model who was really quite dim, as a sort of antidote, really. Unfortunately, and greatly to my regret, he followed me back to England, which was a disaster. I remember him coming to the festival where we were performing and standing in a pair of leather trousers and leggings [laughing] with his legs akimbo, his hands on his hips, announcing to one of the boys that we was in fact an international man. I was so embarrassed that I actually went over and bit a sideboard in the assembly room bar, which bears my teeth marks to this day. So there you go."
Dustin Hoffman: "What question did she answer?"
Emma Thompson: "It was about a bad date."
Dustin Hoffman: "Okay, oh got it. Oh, it was about the bad date."
Do you think that the older you get, the more you understand love?
Emma Thompson: "Yeah, I do, actually. But that's only if you've put a good lot of graft into it. You can't just understand love because you're older. That's not a given. You can understand love if during the period that you've been getting older in, you actually work at it, work out what works, what doesn't work, what love is, which is a daily activity not something that just, you know, carries on in the ether without you. Love is as mundane as washing up, you know? The plates aren't going to wash themselves and put them back and love is not going to survive..."
Dustin Hoffman: "That's brilliant. She's a writer. That's good."
Emma Thompson: "...unless you do the work. And the work is sometimes quite painful."
Dustin Hoffman: "So we translate that line as saying you said love is as mundane as, well we say as doing the dishes..."
Emma Thompson: "Yeah."
Dustin Hoffman: "That's good. I think."
Emma Thompson: "So I think that you do get to learn about that, if you do love and you do commit to loving someone over a long period of time. I mean, then there's other kinds of loving where you just decide you don't want to stay with someone for a long period of time and you go from one relationship to another, stopping at the point at which there is an obstacle that you simply don't wish to climb over. That's another matter."
Emma, are you prepared for a sequel to Nanny McPhee?
Emma Thompson: "Nanny… Yeah, we shoot that next year. Very excited - very excited. It's taken three years to do this script. The first film took nine years door-to-door because the script took seven years to develop. Just was really hard to work it out. But this one, because I learned so much on the last one, it only took three. So we start that…we've got a green light in everything so hopefully it really will happen. Although who knows in this climate? There's a baby elephant in it that I'm particularly excited about."
Dustin Hoffman: "They're going to use a real baby elephant?"
Emma Thompson: "They're going to use a real baby elephant, yeah."
Are you directing it?
Emma Thompson: "No, Suzanna White is directing it. First time I've worked with a woman director, which I'm really thrilled about. So the triumvirate at the top is all women, me, and Lindsay Doran and Suzanna. And that I think will make for a very comfortable shoot."
Dustin Hoffman: "The sex of the elephant?"
Emma Thompson: [Laughing] "Stop!"
Dustin Hoffman: "Sorry."