In addition to playing the famous governess, Emma Thompson signs the screenplay for “Nanny McPhee”. And writing the script took several years, proving to be much more complicated than expected…
Nanny McPhee : a nanny from hell
Released in 2006, Nanny McPhee is inspired by three books by the novelist Christianna Brand which form a series : Dear Mathilda, Dear Mathilda, go to town and Dear Mathilda at sea baths. The famous British governess changes her name here and becomes Nanny McPhee. Played by Emma Thompson, this nanny arrives without warning in the homes to try to resolve a crisis situation.
In the film directed by Kirk Jones, the disaster concerns the Brown family. After the recent death of his girlfriend, Cedric Brown (Colin Firth) can no longer manage with his seven children, despite the help of his servant Evangeline (Kelly Macdonald). Faced with the deluge of nonsense from the little rascals who enjoy total freedom, unexpected help comes their way.
When Nanny McPhee rings at the door of the house, she explains to Mr. Brown that the children will henceforth have to obey his rules and that she intends to teach them five lessons. Somewhat distraught at the governess’ appearance, he accepts. Very quickly, he observes drastic changes within his home.
Angela Lansbury, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Eliza Bennett, Imelda Staunton and Derek Jacobi complete the cast of this family comedy tinged with magic. Entertainment for which Emma Thompson also signs the script, which was not easy to write.
Emma Thompson had to find the right tone
The actress is not at her first experience as a screenwriter with Nanny McPhee. In 1996, she won Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay reason and feelings, in which she gives the reply to Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. A year later, in 1997, she decided to work on a screen transposition of the series Matilda alongside producer Lindsay Doran, with whom she has already collaborated on Dead Again and sentimental drama from Jane Austen’s book.
Yes Nanny McPhee takes so long to see the light of day, it is partly because the writing process proves to be particularly complicated for Emma Thompson. During the promotion of the feature film, she entrusts to the site ChristianAnswers.net :
This scenario was much more complicated than that of reason and feelings. I started writing it nine years ago because I wanted to write something accessible to everyone. I knew it was going to be really hard. I thought it might be easier to adapt a children’s book than to adapt reason and feelings, but it was not. (…)
Trying to find the right tone, something that the kids will really get something out of and the adults won’t bore, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and probably ever will. I think the central and underlying story is similar to that of The Man of the Lost Valleys. It is a situation of complete chaos in which all authority figures have failed and can do nothing – in which the stranger arrives. (…) I was thinking about it when I realized how similar it was to The melody of happiness and Mary Poppins.
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Nanny McPhee: Why did Emma Thompson have a hard time writing the screenplay? – CineSeries