Cheat Sheet: Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin A. Scott Thomas
Date of Birth:
24th May 1960
Place of birth:
Redruth, Cornwall, England
Acting, being French(ish), being chic
Four Weddings and a Funeral, The English Patient, Gosford Park, I’ve Loved You So Long
What you probably already know:
Basically, Kristin Scott Thomas has been in all the films and done all the things. The English Patient? She was totally in that, with a plane and everything. Gosford Park? She accused Michael Gambon of being a WWI profiteer. Mission: Impossible? Someone stabbed her. In The Horse Whisperer she gave birth to the pop-eyed bitch, in The Golden Compass she voiced Daniel Craig’s snow leopard dæmon Stelmaria and in Nowhere Boy she played John Lennon’s auntie. Kristin Scott Thomas has got around, that’s sort of our point.
Since first coming to prominence with her performance in Four Weddings and a Funeral, KST has rarely been off our screens – and this year is no exception. She’s already appeared in The Woman in the Fifth and Bel Ami, both classic vehicles for her stately charm – the latter film did not, it’s true, really show her in an ideal light, but the characteristically gleaming and impenetrable lacquer of her Woman in the Fifth character Margit conceals one of KST’s hungriest and most alluring performances in years. Despite entering her sixth decade Scott Thomas is as striking and busy as ever.
What you might not know:
Scott Thomas’ romantic life has always been front page news – cheating on your French gynaecologist husband is an absolute gift to the tabloids, after all – but she comes from fairly hectic lineage herself. Her pilot father died in a crash when she was six, and her mother foolishly married another pilot without pausing to apply her new-found knowledge of the risks of having a pilot for a husband: viz., they might crash their planes and die. When she was ten, Kristin’s stepfather crashed his plane and died. From this inauspicious starting point the world alternately boosted and frustrated Kristin’s dreams of the silver screen – she trained as a drama teacher at CSSD but was told she had no talent as an actress, then when she moved to Paris to become an au pair she was almost immediately cast opposite Prince in Under the Cherry Moon. She received two Golden Raspberry nominations. Eight years and fourteen films later she won a BAFTA for her performance in Four Weddings, and her onscreen persona was set in stone. Oh, and she really fucking hates Jeremy Clarkson (but who doesn’t?).
A few months ago I interviewed Pawel Pawlikowski, the director of The Woman in the Fifth. “How did you go about casting Kristin?”, I asked. He raised an eyebrow and I took a moment to consider who else in the whole world could conceivably be cast as a slightly intimidating, upper-class, English-speaking Frenchwoman, then we both burst out laughing. KST clearly had that gig wrapped up from day one.
This, then, is Kristin Scott Thomas’ curse. Her screen appearances – poised and perfect, beautiful despite her advancing age, completely captivating – are impossible to imitate, and there is a certain sort of role for which she’s been the ever-present first choice for a good twenty years. For such a talented and adventurous artist, such typecasting must engender a certain amount of frustration – “I’m not at all fed up with British films,” she said a few years ago, “but I am fed up with playing upper-class people.” Kristin has eight years on Liam Neeson and fourteen on Sly Stallone – someone give the girl an action lead.
Kristin Scott Thomas quote:
“People accuse me of being Methody, but I’m not at all. The one thing I don’t want people to see is me. I don’t want them to be able to recognize my faults and failures and qualities, and I won’t use those things to spark off emotions or to illustrate.”
What to say at a dinner party:
“Kristin Scott Thomas’ talent and background make her that rarest of beasts, a truly irreplaceable actress. Decades of savvy film choices and peerless performances have earned her a permanent place in the cinematic pantheons of both England and her adopted homeland.”
What not to say at a dinner party:
“Are these Freedom Fries?”