Emma Thompson says she has a deep dislike for Fresno’s own Audra McDonald. I find this out while talking to Thompson — England’s answer to Meryl Streep — about her upcoming movie “Beautiful Creatures” that opens Valentine’s Day. She plays a witch who has gone the dark side, not much of a stretch by the way she talks about McDonald.
The source of the discord started when the pair filmed the 2001 cable movie “Wit.” Thompson turns in a brilliant performance as a professor who’s forced to reassess her life after being diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. McDonald is equally as wonderful as the nurse who helps her deal with the terminal illness. Both picked up Emmy nominations that year.
“I’m quite bitter about working with Audra,” says Thompson in such a sarcastic tone it becomes clear that she doesn’t really have any dislike for her former co-star but is a big admirer. This is just an example of the Thompson sense of humor that all of her co-stars in the movie say made the filming process so much fun.
Thompson explains the source of her faked ill will was created by the way Mike Nichols directed the pair in “Wit.”
“He would sit in his chair and shout through a megaphone,” Thompson says. “It was ‘Audra, Audra, Audra.’”
How much Nichols shouted the Tony winners name got noticed by Thompson’s very young daughter.
“I’ll have you know the first word out of her moth wasn’t ‘mama.’ It was ‘Audra’,” Thompson says with even more false anger.
The actress laughs and says that despite her daughter’s vocabulary choice, she loved being “joined at the hip” with McDonald during the filming and that working with her was a joy.
“If we could live in the same city, I would be happy,” Thompson adds.