Emma Thompson: “The Star System Is Not a Good System”

The actress, speaking at a BAFTA event, criticized Hollywood's stance on stardom

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Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Emma Thompson at her BAFTA event 'A Life In Pictures' on Nov. 24, 2013, in London

Actress Emma Thompson, soon appearing as author P.L. Travers in December’s Saving Mr. Banks, appeared this weekend at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Life In Pictures interview series—which is a little bit like Inside the Actor’s Studio-meets-Barbara-Walters—and, in the course of her discussion, criticized the Hollywood system, even though that moviemaking machine has embraced her work.

Although the conversation also covered her own past on-screen crying jags and her failed attempt at being a strand-up comedian, she made headlines with her statement that the “star system” is bad for actors.

As Deadline reports, she compared Hollywood to England’s acting climate and—while she said that the actors themselves are no better on one side of the pond than the other—deemed the Californian version more hierarchical in a way that hurts the craft. A “grand” actor is not always a “great” actor, and Hollywood’s obsession with who is a VIP can encourage people to care more about the former. By creating a system whereby everyone in the business is ranked,  many people become fixated on who is on top and who is below, and where someone is allowed to stand at a party, rather than who is doing the best work. As for Thompson herself, though she’s undoubtably a major star, Variety reports that she told the BAFTA crowd that she is “the only star to have ever asked for a smaller trailer.”

Further highlights from Thompson’s interview should be available shortly on the BAFTA Guru website.

(MORE: Richard Corliss on Emma Thompson in 1993)