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Thompson appeared on the Swedish talk show Skavlan to promote her work with Greenpeace and was asked by panel members about Hollywood’s obsession with weight.
“Every time I have to go to Los Angeles I think, ‘Oh God, I’m too fat to go there, they’re not going to let me in!’” Thompson joked.
Swedish actress Sofia Helin, best known for her work on Scandinavian crime show The Bridge, also chimed in and said she had been asked by British journalists why she wasn’t as thin as other actresses.
“I’ve been wondering about that – why is everybody in the American movies anorexic?” Helin asked.
“So thin. They’re anorexic,” Thompson agreed, adding that she had been asked the same question and had responded: “Sorry, do you want me to be an actress or a model? What do you want?”
Thompson said the competitive nature of getting movie roles meant many women were starving themselves to keep up.
“Actresses who are very, very thin who are into their 30s simply don’t eat,” she said.
“There was a wonderful actress I was working with on something called Brideshead Revisited and the producers said to her ‘Will you lose some weight?’ She was absolutely exquisite.
“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’.
“It’s evil what’s happening, what’s going on out there.”
The actress in question was Hayley Atwell, who confirmed Thompson’s story in an interview with Sunday Express in 2008.
“I went round to Emma’s one night and she was getting very angry that I wasn’t eating all the food she was giving me. I told her why and she hit the roof.”
Thompson is something of a crusader for women in Hollywood.
In an interview with Good Housekeeping in 2007, Thompson’s friend and co-star in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility Kate Winslet said Thompson proffered some harsh but helpful advice to her during filming.
“Emma Thompson told me, ‘If you ever lose weight, I will never … talk to you again’,” Winslet said.