New Emma Interview with The Reel Breakdown

Thelma Adams: Let’s start with the meat of this movie: the mother-daughter relationship…
Emma Thompson: My character, the mother, has suppressed a lot of her natural instincts to fulfill her responsibilities as queen, like many women, not all of them royals. We can understand why Elinor behaves as she does. She doesn’t really listen, and she doesn’t pay the right kind of attention to her daughter. She doesn’t see that Merida’s rebellion comes from being asked to do what the mother was asked. Elinor just sees the rebellion. And that resonates for mothers raising teenagers, not just queens and princesses, because often we’re not paying our daughters the right kind of attention. As a mother, you have to be quite forensic: You need to listen to your daughter and pick out the critical information.
TA: What clues does this dynamic offer for modern parents?
ET: Listen in the right way. Spend time quietly with your children. You don’t have to be solving problems all the time. Check in with them regularly so they know you’re there, but telling them what to do doesn’t cut it.
TA: Any more advice to share — since I also have a spunky 13-year-old daughter?
ET: I got a good bit of advice from a friend of mine. When his daughter slammed her door, he removed the door altogether and hid it. He took the door for two weeks. At the end of two weeks without the door, his daughter promised not to slam it. My friend put the door back and they lived happily ever after.

Read the full interview

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