Staff at a York cinema were taken aback on Sunday afternoon (September 28) when a double Oscar winning movie star called in to catch a film.
Actor, writer and all round national treasure Emma Thompson chose City Screen to watch acclaimed British drama Pride.
She dropped in out of the blue with a female friend and went to watch the film in the small screen of the Coney Street cinema.
Alicia Stabler, front of house at City Screen, said it was usher Kate Calvert who first recognised the actor, famous for films including Sense And Sensibility, Love Actually, Nanny McPhee and Saving Mr Banks.
“The ripples went through the rest of the building. We were all quite excited,” said Alicia.
“Then we started daring each other who was going to ask if we could have a photograph with her afterwards. Unfortunately I was pushed to the front!”
But Alicia needn’t have worried.
“She was lovely and charming when I asked her. I said ‘we’re not used to famous people coming in, so would you mind having your picture taken with some of the staff?’
She said ‘Absolutely! But I’ve just come out of Pride – so can I go fix my face?’ Because it’s quite a teary film.”
Emma posed for a picture with all four of the staff on duty outside the cinema.
“You could see people beginning to recognise her when we were posing out the front having our picture taken,” Alicia said.
“We were all excited. We were having quite a busy, manic day but we spent the rest of the afternoon with smiles on our faces.”
In royal footsteps
Married to the actor Greg Wise, an old boy at St Peter’s School in York, Emma told Alicia she comes to the city quite regularly and was staying here for one night.
“She was just passing through, decided to come and watch a film. I said, ‘Next time you’re in York, do come back and see us.’
“She said, ‘Yes I will, it’s a lovely cinema.'”
Best Actress Oscar for Howard’s End
Best Actress BAFTA for Howard’s End
Best Screenplay Oscar for Sense And Sensibility
Best Screenplay – Adapted BAFTA for Sense And Sensibility
Emma has been nominated three further times for Oscars and four further times for BAFTAs
Emma told Alicia she had thoroughly enjoyed Pride, a surprise feel-good hit which chronicles how a lesbian and gay group raised money to help miners’ families during the 1984 strike.
“We had quite a nice little chat about the films coming up. She was excited about Mr Turner when that comes out.
“She was a lovely lady – she’s one of our favourites now!”
Emma Thompson was the first Oscar winner Alicia can recall coming to City Screen. But she’s not the cinema’s only famous patron.
“We did have Prince William come to visit us about four or five years ago now. It was when he was doing his RAF training at Linton-on-Ouse.
“He came in to watch National Treasure 2 of all the films! I do know that when he was in, the girl was so flustered serving him on the Box Office that she forgot to charge him for his ice cream.
“So he owes us £2.50 for a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!”
But Emma’s visit will live long in the memory of Alicia and the other staff.
“I’m definitely going to be following her career very closely from now on and say, ‘Yeah, me and Emma Thompson, we’re best friends!’
“I’m going to have to go home now and watch Nanny McPhee.”