Dear Emma,

First off, Happy Birthday.

Second, you should know you resemble my wife, which is a compliment. You may assume I’m biased, but trust me. On request, I can send you a photo to prove it. You’re both lovely, of course, but you also have faces with character. Your smiles project decency and intelligence.

Still, my wife is not half the actress you are (though on occasion she has surprised me).

I don’t want to talk about all your awards, but your performances- how you elevate any movie you’re in. I know that’s a cliché, but most clichés have foundations in fact. I study actors and directors pretty closely, and the list of your peers who could earn this compliment is shorter than Tom Cruise.

A recent example? Your last outing, “Saving Mr. Banks,” was a movie that worked best when you (and/or Mr. Hanks) were in the frame. Lesser actresses would have failed to deliver the dimension, the sense of a deeply wounded, conflicted woman whose brusqueness was all bark and no dog.

Emma, I admire your honesty and fearlessness, on-set and off. I love how you tackled “Wit” and convinced or coerced the brilliant Mike Nichols to direct. I thought you were every bit the equal to Daniel-Day Lewis in “In The Name Of The Father.” And though I blush to say it, if I could have entered Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” as a handsome, well-to-do young squire, I would have chosen you over Kate Winslet.

I also love the fact you write, that you love words and language. Though I said I wasn’t going to talk about awards, I do think it’s remarkable that you are the only person, living or dead, male or female, to win Oscars for Acting and Writing.

Finally, you said something about the state of mainstream movies today that resonated with me. Do you mind if I quote you?

To be perfectly frank, I sometimes think that the young must get very bored with the parts that they are required to play. It's not as though there are that many very complex, interesting roles for anyone.
                                                        The guys are now required to stand around looking beautiful and be superheroes. And I'm very, very bored. They must be bored, too. Where are all the dramas we used to love? Where are all the stories?”

Where are the stories? In foreign films, documentaries, and overlooked classics. And they are in your films, Emma. 

I don’t know you, but when I get famous (which could happen any minute), I hope to thank you in person for all you’ve been and done. 


Gratefully,

John Farr