Blind item: which actress was told to ‘lose weight’ on ‘Brideshead Revisted’?


I might be the only person who really watched the film version of Brideshead Revisited starring Emma Thompson and Matthew Goode. It came out in 2008, and it was supposed to be a more luxe version of the very popular miniseries from the 1980s, starring Jeremy Irons. I never saw the miniseries, but I liked the movie in general. Emma was the matriarch of an aristocratic family, the Flytes, and two young British actresses played her daughters: Felicity Jones and Hayley Atwell. There were other actresses in the film too, but I kind of think Emma is talking about Hayley or Felicity. Emma told a story on a recent chat show appearance and it’s sort of a blind item. Hm.

Emma Thompson has no tolerance for body shaming. The Saving Mr. Banks was discussing the pressure for actresses to be thin in Hollywood while on the Swedish talk show Skavlan last week, and revealed she once threatened to quit a production when a producer asked one of her costars to lose weight.

“There was a wonderful actress in a film I did called Brideshead Revisited,” she remembered of the 2008 film. “The producer said to her, ‘Will you lose some weight?’ And she was absolutely exquisite!”

That’s when Thompson decided to intervene. “I said to them, ’If you speak to her about this again, on any level, I will leave this picture. You are never to do that,’” she revealed.

For Thompson, the incident was emblematic of a larger problem in show business. “It’s evil what’s happening and what’s going on there, and it’s getting worse. The French fashion industry said they would get rid of size zero and then, you know, they didn’t. The anorexia — there’s so many kids, girls and boys now, and actresses who are very, very thin into their 30s, who simply don’t eat. They don’t eat … Sometimes there are just some subjects that you absolutely have to make noise about because it’s so tedious and it’s gone on and on,” she added.

After years in the business, Thompson said she has a comeback reserved for any filmmaker who criticizes her appearance: “Sorry, do you want me to be an actress or a model?”

[From People]

I think it was probably Hayley Atwell, because she had a decent-sized part, and I remember how refreshing it was to see an actress who looked like a woman in her position would look. I mean, Hayley was slender, but she didn’t have a toned, modern look, and she wasn’t yoga-fit or whatever. She looked like what a healthy, aristocratic girl in the 1930s would have looked like. And no, it does not surprise me that some producer asked her to lose weight. People are such a–holes and Emma is absolutely right – it’s like we’ve become accustomed to people just not eating, or for everyone in the film and fashion industry to be really, really tiny.

Hayley Atwell

The 'Beauty and the Beast' Launch Event

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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26 Responses to “Blind item: which actress was told to ‘lose weight’ on ‘Brideshead Revisted’?”

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  1. JustJen says:

    And here i thought I couldn’t love Emma Thompson more. WRONG!! She’s awesome!!!

  2. ctgirl says:

    Emma rocks.

  3. JaneDoesWork says:

    It was Hayley Atwell. This wasn’t really a blind item, this story was circulated a year or two ago. Hayley mentioned it in an interview.

    • Myrto says:

      Yes it’s well known because I had heard that story before. It was totally Haley Atwell. And Emma is wonderful for sticking up to her. However I have to say that I disagree with her on anorexia. It’s a mental illness: it existed in the 19th century, way before models and the fashion industry. So i don’t think anorexia is caused by super thin models and girls wanting to emulate them.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        It’s not but there are triggers and some people are more prone to it than others. The current ideal sold to us in the media can’t be helpful. Just as social media can’t possibly be helpful if you’re recovering.

      • detritus says:

        Most studies agree that the current beauty standards and the constant exposure to ideal/modified bodies in media has increased in the incidence of ED in men and women.

        the presentation of anorexia in other cultures and other time periods was different, and the psychology behind the similar but different disorders are considered to be different as well.

      • Vizia says:

        It’s not the cause, but in current culture it’s definitely a trigger. Pro-Ana is a real problem, and most of those sites include celebrity/model “thinspiration”.

      • Lena says:

        Well, in the 19th century there was already a fashion industry in a way with fashion plates and just in general a lot of pressure for at least some young women to fit into a beauty standard since they had little career opportunities. And while models as such didn’t exist, some of the beauty idols of that time where very thin and some even had anorexia (like empires Elisabeth of Austria) So there are a lot of parallels to today.

  4. Kata says:

    Felicity is teeny tiny, so I guess it was Hayley. And Emma is great for using her status, because those young actresses surely couldn’t do that.

  5. Lucy says:

    Emma is an actual fairy godmother. And (although I know the movie came years before) there’s not a man in this World who can tell Agent Carter what to do!!!

  6. Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

    Love Emma – I’ve heard this story before as she’s talked about it before. I agree I think it was Hayley Atwell, who I think has talked about things like this before.

  7. Agent Carter says:

    This is known. Hayley Atwell has herself acknowledged it, years ago (see this post from 2008, for example:

  8. SusanneToo says:

    I agree it was Hayley. I think Hayley looks great.

  9. teacakes says:

    It’s been on the record for years that it was Hayley Atwell, I have major respect for Emma for doing that. I suppose she just didn’t want to drag Hayley into it by name, which is fair enough.

  10. Lightpurple says:

    Hayley is curvy and movie people don’t know what to do with that.

    Also the beginning of that film, Ben Whishaw as Sebastian in a boat. So pretty.

  11. Jane says:

    I see she trying to do good. But it’s just shows the misunderstanding/ stigma about anorexia/ eating disorders in general. They a mental illness and horrible one too. Not a life style choice.

  12. Elaine says:

    I watched the film, but truly, to get the measure of the book and a luxurious take on a vanished way of life watch the miniseries. It rewards close attention and binge watching.

  13. Rocio says:

    It’s not a blind item. It’s the British actress that plays Captain America love interest. Losing weight? That woman is perfection.

  14. Lucy2 says:

    I love Emma for standing up against that nonsense, and in a big way.

  15. detritus says:

    Go Emma.
    The runway model business bothered me as well. There was one moment where Spain (? Italy?) said they would not let models under a certain BMI walk (a full point below the healthy range was the cut off).
    Then nothing.

    • swak says:

      IIRC it was France that was net letting the models walk. No matter what country it was, it was all talk and no action.

    • LA Elle says:

      But Hollywood is hardly any better. Look at Brie Larson and Emma Stone – they were both thin to begin with, and they’ve shrunk dramatically as they’ve become more famous.

      And Hayley Attwell is absolutely gorgeous – she’s one of the most beautiful actresses working today (to say nothing of immensely talented). I also still hold out hope for her and Chris Evans doing a romantic comedy together – I love their onscreen chemistry.

  16. Redgrl says:

    Love love love Emma Thompson!

  17. raincoaster says:

    It’s unfortunately very true that people, hundreds or thousands of them, are starving themselves for a chance to model, act, or simply look like a model or actor. I was horrified not long ago to find out that Audrey Hepburn struggled for years with hair loss because of anorexia. You see the gamine; you don’t see the cost.