A respected character actress who is also part of one of Britain's most celebrated show business families, Sophie Thompson has brought life to a bevy of characters on the stage, screen, and television. The daughter of actors Eric Thompson and Phillyda Law, and the younger sister of actress Emma Thompson, Sophie Thompson was born in London in 1962. She began acting at a very young age and had already done TV work by the time she attended the Old Vic Theatre School.
Following two seasons with the Old Vic, the actress transferred her talents to the West End for a number of prestigious Shakespearean productions, including Judi Dench's Much Ado About Nothing and Derek Jacobi's Hamlet, as well as countless contemporary works by the likes of Tennessee Williams and Tom Stoppard. Over the course of her stage career, Thompson has earned many honors, most notably two Olivier nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Alan Ayckbourne's Wildest Dreams and Company, and a Clarence Derwent Award for her performance in the former.
Onscreen, Thompson has appeared to memorable effect in a variety of films, often stealing the light from her more prominent co-stars. Although she made her film debut in 1982 with an uncredited role as a prostitute in The Missionary, it was not until the 1990s that she began to gain any sort of recognition amongst filmgoers. Thompson did hilarious work in the 1994 hit Four Weddings and a Funeral, playing a bride whose very vocal and energetic wedding night antics cause no end of discomfort for a hapless Hugh Grant. She also provided priceless support in a pair of Jane Austen adaptations, first in Roger Michell's acclaimed 1995 film adaptation of Persuasion, in which she played Mrs. Musgrove, the heroine's disagreeable hypochondriac sister and then in Douglas McGrath's Emma (1996), which saw her play the socially inept Miss Bates. The latter film allowed Thompson to act alongside her mother, who, in no great stretch of casting, portrayed Mrs. Bates, her onscreen mother. Although she has repeatedly demonstrated her comedic ability in a number of films, Thompson is equally well-suited to drama, as she memorably demonstrated in Dancing at Lughnasa (1998), a drama about five close-knit Irish sisters that cast her as a simple-minded and ultimately tragic young woman.