See the Stars of Emma, Then & Now

Gwyneth Paltrow played the titular matchmaker in the 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel, with Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette and Alan Cumming co-starring.

By Tierney Bricker Aug 30, 2021 9:30 PMTags
Watch: Necessary Realness: Brad Pitt & Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar Moment

"The most beautiful thing in the world is a match well made."

While Emma Woodhouse said this about her penchant for pairing couples, the same could very well have been said about Gwyneth Paltrow's casting in Emma.

Paltrow was just 24 years old when she starred as the titular matchmaker in director Douglas McGrath's 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel, marking one of her first major roles. 

"I knew she had theater training, so she could carry herself, " McGrath told The Los Angeles Times in 1996 of casting Paltrow. "We had many actresses, big and small, who wanted to play this part. The minute she started the read-through, the very first line, I thought, 'Everything is going to be fine; she's going to be brilliant.'"

His assessment turned out to be true, with Paltrow earning rave reviews for her performance and leading a stacked cast that included Ewan McGregor, Toni Collette and Alan Cumming

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For Paltrow, the desire to play the Austen heroine was "obvious," telling the Washington Post at the time, "I mean, roles like that just don't come along for a woman in her early twenties. It's such an exception. She's such a wonderful, flawed heroine, and she learns and grows from her mistakes."

In honor of the movie's 25th anniversary, here's what the stars of Emma are up to now...

Gwyneth Paltrow

Two years after taking on the titular role in the Jane Austen adaptation, Paltrow would win an Oscar for her performance in Shakespeare in Love, which she followed with performances in The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums and Proof. Paltrow would later join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Pepper Potts and win an Emmy in 2011 for her guest appearance on Glee. She recently appeared in the Netflix series The Politician, also earning an executive producer credit.

The 48-year-old launched her wellness brand Goop in 2008, which has become a lifestyle empire, and has released several best-selling cookbooks.

After high-profile romances with Brad Pitt and Ben Affleck, Paltrow married Coldplay frontman Chris Martin in 2003. After welcoming two children—daughter Apple, 17, and son Moses, 15—they would ultimately "consciously uncouple," remaining close friends. Paltrow married Glee producer Brad Falchuk in 2018 after four years of dating.

Ewan McGregor

The same year he co-starred as Frank Churchill, McGregor starred in Trainspotting, which would help make him one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood. He went on to star in Moulin Rouge!, Black Hawk Down and Big Fish, and he also fronted the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In 2018, he won a Golden Globe for his performance in the third season of FX's Fargo

After his recent Emmy-nominated turn as American fashion designer Halston in an eponymously titled Netflix series, McGregor is set to reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in a Disney+ TV series.

McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who co-starred in Birds of Prey and Fargowelcomed their son Laurie in June 2021. The 50-year-old actor is also the father of Clara, 27, Jamyan, 20, Esther, 19, and Anouk, 10, with ex-wife Eve Mavrakis.

Jeremy Northam

After his breakout performances in 1995's The Net and as Mr. Knightley in Emma, Northam went on to appear in Amistad and Gosford Park, as well as Showtime's The Tudors. Most recently, Northam, 59, portrayed British Prime Minister Anthony Eden on Netflix's The Crown

Toni Collette

The Muriel's Wedding star played Harriet Smith, Emma's awkward best friend, in the period drama before going on to appear in The Sixth Sense, The Hours, In Her Shoes and Little Miss Sunshine. For her work on Showtime's United States of Tara, Collette won a Golden Globe and Emmy, later earning nominations for 2019's Unbelievable

Most recently, the 48-year-old has starred in Hereditary, Knives Out and Stowaway

Collette married musician Dave Galafassi in 2003 and have two children, daughter Sage Florence, 23, and son Arlo Robert, 20.  

Alan Cumming

Following his time as Philip Elton, the Tony winner went on to star in CBS' hit drama The Good Wife for six years, earning three Emmy nominations for his portrayal of crisis manager Eli Gold. Cumming, 56, also popped up on Doctor Who, Broad City and Prodigal Son, and made appearances in films such as Josie and the Pussycats, X2, Burlesque and Battle of the Sexes and lent his voice to The Smurfs franchise.

Cumming has been married to Grant Shaffer since 2007. He's written two books, novel Tommy's Tale and his 2014 memoir, Not My Father's Son: A Memoir.

Polly Walker

Years after playing Jane Fairfax, Walker traded Jane Austen for Lady Whistledown, going on to join the cast of Netflix's hit series Bridgerton. The 55-year-old actress has also starred in Rome, earning a Golden Globe nomination in 2006, Prisoners' Wives and Line of Duty.

She's been married to Laurence Penry-Jones since 2008 and the couple have two children. 

James Cosmo

The Scottish actor, who played Mr. Weston, has popped up in a lot of genre favorites, including Highlander, Braveheart, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Wonder Woman, as well as TV shows such as Game of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and His Dark Materials. 

Married since 2000, Cosmo and wife Annie Harris have two children. 

Sophie Thompson

In addition to her appearances in films such as Emma, Gosford Park and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Thompson is an esteemed stage actress, winning the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1999 for her performance in Into the Woods. Her credits also include EastEnders and Coronation Street.

The 59-year-old has two children with Richard Lumsden, the couple separating in 2015 after twenty years of marriage.

Emma is streaming on Hulu. 

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