She's one of our finest actresses - and her life has been as dramatic as her work. Here, the Sense And Sensibility star tells her story...
Happy: Emma Thompson as a child (right) with her mother, actress Phyllida Law, and sister Sophie
1966: I grew up in London with my parents, Eric Thompson and Phyllida Law, both actors, and my younger sister, Sophie. It was very happy. We were encouraged to be calm and tender, and were taught manners.
When I was seven I had my tonsils out, after which I was given a box of sweets, which I wasn't usually allowed. For some reason our nanny ate them. I was so upset, I took my sister and we ran away from home.
We went around the corner and ate sandwiches behind a tree. It was the naughtiest thing I ever did.
1979: I studied English at Cambridge. I was rather quiet socially - when I was a young woman, I was not a great joiner of things.
I identified quite strongly with outsiders, with people who were left out instead of included, which is strange because I ended up being in a job in which I am given quite a lot of attention.
1982: My father died when I was in my early 20s, and Mum, Sophie and I are very close - my father's death threw us all together.
We're quite a strong little triumvirate, and probably a little alarming to outsiders as we never stop screeching with laughter. My mum and sister are both very funny, but I still think you need the male principal in there.
Outsider: Emma in 1979 at Cambridge, left, and right, with her mother and sister after her father's death in 1982
1983: Joining the Cambridge Footlights changed my life. After graduating, we worked up in Manchester for years doing sketch comedy together. In fact, I originally thought I was going to be a comedian - useful training for serious acting.
Sketch comedy: Joining the Cambridge Footlights was useful training for serious acting
1989: I met my first husband, Kenneth Branagh, when we appeared together in the TV series, Fortunes Of War.
I fell in love with Ken because he was like my father, very funny, very witty, a self-made man from a working-class background who had taught himself to get on in life. He also has a beautiful voice - as did my Dad.
First love: Emma with first husband Kenneth Branagh on their wedding day in 1989, and right, in 1993 at the BAFTA awards - a period during which Ken was always working
1993: When Ken and I were married, he was always working and I was always saying, 'Let's have a life.' But he wouldn't stop.
In marriage, you should never just trundle along - that's when problems start. Remember to go out for dinner if you haven't seen each other all week, and make regular dates.
I've had my heart broken so many times and it's the most painful thing in the world, but you do get over it.
Motherhood: Emma met Greg Wise on the set of Sense And Sensibility, and their daughter, Gaia, was born in 1999
1999: Ken and I split up in 1995. Not long after that, I met fellow actor Greg Wise on the set of Sense And Sensibility, and our daughter, Gaia, was born in 1999.
My goal is to be an ordinary mum, not one who spends so much time away working that, when she is with her child, their time together is so precious she can't relax. Why have a child at all in that case?
2003: Greg - whom I married when Gaia was four - is possibly the most decent person I've ever known. He's kind to everyone; kind to the roots of his being. Plus, we both like to go to bed early, which helps!
But there's a catch - Greg is astoundingly thrifty. If I buy anything, I lie about it, hide it, or stain/chip it slightly and claim it was 75p in a charity shop. I have managed to introduce three pairs of shoes, a handbag and a fedora, all by Donna Karan, using this ruse.
2003: I was very vocal in protesting against the Gulf War. I think there's a lot of emotional disconnection in the world these days, as well as a lot of cynicism in the media, and it worries me.
I think that anyone with any sort of voice has a duty to plug into what they think needs to be said, and say it.
Values: Emma married husband Greg in 2003; right, the actress was very vocal in her protest of the Gulf War
2005: I'm fascinated by power. I always think, 'What would I do if (like Tony Blair, who I met to promote an Aids charity) I was in charge? What decisions would I make? Which bits of me would bend under the strain?'
Power: With Tony Blair in 2005, while helping to promote an Aids charity; right, Emma was especially proud when adopted son Tindy graduated from Exeter University last year
2009: In 2003, we adopted a Rwandan refugee, then 16, called Tindyebwa Agaba. Tindy is very much a rural boy from a small community. He likes London, but he also loves to get away to the country - to go to a place where you can't have airs and graces.
We're very proud of him - and were especially proud when he graduated in politics from Exeter University.
2009: In the recent film An Education, I have a small part as the headmistress of secondary school. I only spent a day shooting it. I was playing the sort of role I am not often asked to play, which was a really sadistic, anti-Semitic woman. It was strange playing a character who is so bigoted, but I had a scarily good time doing it.
A scarlity good time: Emma as the headmistress in last year's hit film, An Educationhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/articl