Actress Emma Thompson took a lot of heat last month when she criticized Audrey Hepburn for being “fantastically twee” in the 1964 musical “My Fair Lady.” When asked what twee meant, Thompson replied that it’s “whimsy without wit. It’s mimsy-mumsy sweetness without any kind of bite. And that’s not for me. She can’t sing and she can’t really act, I’m afraid.”
Thompson gave that quote to the Hollywood Reporter, just before receiving her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—which she did while drinking a pint of beer and holding a live pig on a leash (presumably to promote her new film “Nanny McPhee Returns“).
To Variety, she further explained her criticism of Hepburn’s bubbly depiction of Eliza Doolittle.
Thompson is working on a rewrite of “My Fair Lady.” And she plans to take the sweetness out of the story. In Thompson’s interpretation, Eliza Doolittle is a victim of human trafficking—sold into slavery by her own father:
“It’s a very terrible thing [Eliza Doolitte’s father] does, selling his daughter into sexual slavery for a fiver. I suppose my cheekiness is in saying, ‘This is a very serious story about the usage of women at a particular time in our history. And it’s still going on today.’ Yes, OK, it’s a wonderful musical, but let’s also look at what it’s really saying about the world.”
Risking the wrath of devout Audrey Hepburn fans is just the latest thing Emma Thompson has done to raise awareness about slavery. Back in 2008, she wrote an article for Newsweek about the moment she discovered the existence of modern day slavery. Last year she co-curated Journey, an art exhibit in New York depicting the global trafficking of women for sex—proceeds went to the Helen Bamber Foundation. At the most recent Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Thompson staged “Fair Trade,” a play based on first-hand interviews of two women trafficked into sex slavery in the UK.