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The Surprising Connection Emma Thompson Has With Cruella's Setting

Since first appearing on the small screen in the Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie sketch comedy show "There's Nothing to Worry About!," actress Emma Thompson has made an indelible mark through her television, film, and stage work. Her turn as Catherine of Valois in the 1989 Kenneth Branagh Shakespeare adaptation "Henry V" was just the beginning of a film career that has gone over 30 years. In that time, she has reunited with Branagh, as well as worked with directors such as Jim Sheridan, Ang Lee, Mike Nichols, Richard Curtis, Alfonso Cuarón, Noah Baumbach, Ivan Reitman, and his son Jason Reitman. She has also written and co-written a number of screenplays, most recently for the 2019 Paul Feig film "Last Christmas," and most notably for the 1995 film "Sense and Sensibility," for which she won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay to go with her Best Actress Oscar for the 1992 film "Howard's End."

Thompson's latest onscreen appearance is in the Disney feature "Cruella." Tracing the origins of "101 Dalmations" antagonist Cruella de Vil, the movie sees Thompson playing Baroness von Hellman, a legend in the fashion world who clashes with Cruella, played by Emma Stone. In a press conference about the film, Thompson revealed a surprising connection she shares with the film's setting.

A bus number in the film holds special meaning for Thompson

Thompson grew up in London in the '70s, which is the same location and time period in which "Cruella" is set, and she spoke about how the authenticity of the details caused her to flash back to her own youth.

"Well, yeah, it was like being a teenager again, because I was born in 1959, for crying out loud," Thompson said. "So in the 1970s, I was in my early teens, my teens, and so actually for me, especially in the London streets, it was surreal, because I had actually worn some of those clothes. I think some of the supporting artists were in my old gear. I mean, we were all in afghan coats and clogs and smocks and cheesecloth and maxi skirts and wet-look boots."

Thompson went on to talk about how not only the costumes but the set itself was nostalgic for her. "It was very touching, actually, because the red London buses are very different now, they look different now. But when I was a little girl, they were like that, they looked exactly the same." Thompson said. "And it was the same bus number that brought me into town from where I lived, where I still live, because I'm weird. It was the same bus, the 159, and it was this little hop-on, hop-off bus. So when I saw the bus that Emily [Beecham] gets on, when she jumps on from the store where she's just been, it just was like being little again, being a teenager going into London."

Emma Thompson's performance in "Cruella" can be seen when the movie comes out in U.S. theaters on May 28.