Emma Thompson's Daughter Has Grown Up To Be Her Twin

Emma Thompson has long been considered an icon of the British film industry. After getting her start in acclaimed period drama films like "Remains of the Day," "Howard's End," and "Sense & Sensibility," Thompson went on to star in several other classics, including "Love Actually," the "Harry Potter" franchise, "Stranger Than Fiction," "Nanny McPhee," and "Last Christmas," to name just a few.

Now, the two-time Oscar winner's daughter, Gaia Wise, is growing up to be the spitting image of her legendary mother: Not only has she started her own acting career, but she also has the same expressive sense of style and the same sharp sense of humor. Wise has already starred in films like "Last Chance Harvey" and "A Walk in the Woods," along with beloved shows like "Silent Witness" and "The Chelsea Detective" — she may just turn out to be Britain's next acting icon. And, if she's anything like her mother, we can't wait to see more of her personality as her career continues.

Gaia Wise was born after Emma Thompson embarked on her IVF journey

Emma Thompson met her second husband, Greg Wise, in 1995 on the set of "Sense & Sensibility." After beginning a relationship, they began trying to start a family — however, due to fertility complications, Thompson ended up trying to conceive with the help of IVF. In 1999, when she was 39, she gave birth to her daughter, Gaia.

As Thompson told The Guardian a decade later, having Gaia became a key moment in her life. "Even now, when things are bad I go back and I remember the birth process," she said. "I can transport myself back to that moment when Gaia was born — it's like a well from which I draw strength." As with so many mothers and daughters, it's clear their bond was fiercely strong from the very first moments.

Thompson tried to conceive another child through IVF but it proved to be impossible. In 2003, she and Wise adopted Tindy, a 16-year-old Rwandan refugee. "Gaia was nearly 3 when he arrived," she explained. "He became her big brother very quickly — she adores him."

She grew up in the same neighborhood as her mother did

Gaia Wise's childhood was eerily similar to that of her mother, Emma Thompson. In fact, as Thompson explained to The Guardian, she actually decided to raise Wise on the very same street in West Hampstead where she had grown up three decades earlier — Thompson's mother and Wise's grandmother had also grown up on the same street. Thompson's mother and sister both still lived nearby, too. For the actress, maintaining these strong family ties was vital. "Family is the center of everything for me," she said. Thompson's adopted son, Tindy, later bought a house on the same street, too. 

As Thompson told The New Yorker in 2022, she still lives in the same house. "I'm surrounded by people I've known since I was a child," she said. "They're not going to put up with me being grand." It seems that Wise had the very same grounded experience of growing up surrounded by family, just as Thompson had when she was a child.

Emma Thompson tried to be a normal mom for Gaia Wise

Even though Emma Thompson was already one of the biggest actors in Britain when her daughter was born, she did her best to give Gaia Wise a normal childhood. For one thing, she made sure she was there for her daughter as much as possible. 

Instead of spending all of her time on film sets, the actress tried to find plenty of opportunities to be at home. "I always knew I'd want to be the sort of mother who would be properly around," she said to The Guardian. "What I most wanted was for Gaia to take me for granted — I couldn't bear the thought of being that 'special' kind of mum, I wanted to be an everyday kind."

As Thompson went on to explain, she often picked up her daughter from school and had "girly" movie nights with her. Wise didn't even watch her mother's films as a child. "She doesn't really like watching me in other movies — though she doesn't mind 'Nanny McPhee,' because I'm in disguise," she said.

She was raised by both parents equally

Emma Thompson and her husband, Greg Wise, were careful to split parenting duties equally when it came to their daughter Gaia. In 2012, when asked if he was the stay-at-home parent, Wise told the Evening Standard, "It's not like that at all. Any woman knows that it takes two people to be a good parent." 

Wise also wasn't worried about how sharing parenting duties would mean he was enacting the "woman's role" in the house. As he told The Telegraph, "I bake and make biscuits with Gaia; I've never been hung up about it."

Thompson and Wise even tried to "take turns working" on their acting projects, as Thompson once told Good Housekeeping. "I could never have done any of my work that involved filming otherwise," she said to The Guardian in 2014. Thompson and Wise certainly took a fair approach to parenting — and, in the process, gave their daughter a great example of what a strong, modern partnership can look like.  

Gaia Wise took a trip to the arctic with her mom

When Gaia Wise was 14, she and her mother, Emma Thompson, joined a group of well-known figures on a life-changing trip to the Arctic. The trip was organized as part of Greenpeace's Save the Arctic campaign to raise awareness about the climate crisis.

As Thompson told The Guardian, Wise had a fantastic time on the trip. As Thompson recalled, Wise had said, "'I've found my tribe,'" of the people on the trip. "And I knew exactly what she meant," she added. Wise also encouraged Thompson to take a more modern approach to activism by tweeting. "I wouldn't dream of it, normally," said Thompson of her Twitter conversion. "It's not my generation."

During the trip, Wise was pictured holding a sign that read, "Mr. Cameron, Highgate School Wants You To Save The Arctic!” directed at the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Thompson's daughter was homeschooled as a teenager after being called a hippy

Things changed for Gaia Wise when she was 15 — after visiting the Arctic with her mother, she returned to London to find that she no longer fit in with her peers at school. As Wise told the Daily Mail (via Ham & High), when she tried to speak to her friends about global warming, they teased her. "When I came back, I got a lot of people telling me to stop being such a hippy," she said. "I tried to get people to listen. It's ridiculous how many teenagers on their phones call you a hippy for being interested in this."

Eventually, her parents decided it would be best to pull Wise out of school and educate her at home. As her father, Greg Wise, told The Telegraph, "She loves learning and she's terribly focused and hardworking, but she didn't like the sausage factory of formal education. I've no argument with that." She finished off her education learning from tutors in a makeshift school room her father built for her in their garden.

She battled anorexia as a teenager

Shortly after leaving school, Gaia Wise's aunt Clare fell ill with cancer. After the diagnosis, Wise began to struggle with an eating disorder. She restricted her food intake and began exercising secretly in the middle of the night. She even grew a layer of "downy hair" all over her body because she became so thin. 

After three years, her parents sat her down for a conversation. It was only then that Wise realized how serious her eating disorder had become. "I had to listen to the ­people I loved most in the world who, at the time, I'd really forgotten about, tell me what I was doing," she explained to The Sun. "I sat on the stone edge of our fireplace because I was so bony I couldn't sit on chairs properly." 

Wise agreed to go to rehab in December 2017. "I went on December 29, 2017, and stayed for three months," she said. "Since then I've had a lot of ­therapy — and I'll always be grateful for that, because it saved my life." After going to rehab, Wise decided to speak up about her illness to help other young people going through the same thing. In 2021, she and her mother even took part in a Sorted Food campaign to raise awareness.

Gaia Wise eventually accepted that she was born to be in the entertainment industry

When she was young, Gaia Wise wasn't particularly interested in acting. As she later told Revamp, her entire family was part of the film industry. "For so long I tried to run away from it and I thought people would say to me, 'Do you want to do what your Mum does?' and I would say 'No I want to be an astronaut!'" However, when she was 14, she realized that acting was her "calling" when she landed her first stage role in "Sweeny Todd." "Being on stage and doing that was when I knew this is what I want to do with my life," she said.

She had already experienced being on a film set with a small role in her mother's film "Last Chance Harvey" in 2008. In 2015, she played Becca in "A Walk in the Woods," once again acting alongside her mother. In 2022, she landed a TV guest role in "Silent Witness" and the following year, she appeared in "The Chelsea Detective." As of 2024, she has four more upcoming projects lined up.

Gaia Wise loves some of her parents' roles – she's also inspired by them

Even though Gaia Wise may not have enjoyed watching her parents act when she was young, as she's gotten older, she's learned to appreciate their work. In fact, she takes inspiration from their previous roles. "I think for my Dad (he's going to hate me for this), one of my favourites is that he did a musical called, 'Walking on Sunshine' and he sings in it and I will never get tired of watching that film," she said to Revamp. She also gave a shout-out to "Sense & Sensibility," joking, "That's why I'm alive, it's how my parents met."

Wise also loves her mother's work in "Nanny McPhee" and "Cruella." Finally, she gave a shout-out to "Last Christmas" — "because [my parents] wrote that together and starred in it," she said. "That's always going to have a special place in my heart."

Wise went on to explain that her biggest inspirations are her mother and her mother's mother, Phyllida Law, both of whom were actors who passed on their love of performing to her.

Gaia Wise has taken inspiration from her mother's style

Not only does Gaia Wise share her mother's love of acting, she also shares her idiosyncratic sense of style. Emma Thompson has never been one to plod along mindlessly following trends — instead, when it comes to fashion, she has always been a complete individual. In fact, back in 1981, when Thompson was performing in her first comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, she jokingly wrote in the program, "Wears baggy trousers . . . refuses to be stereotyped" (via The New Yorker).

It seems that Wise is much the same as her mother when it comes to clothes. In 2015, an interviewer for The Guardian noted that Wise was "following in her mum's sartorial style" by wearing a pair of Doc Martins and "a jacket that would look great on a demo." And how does Wise describe her style? "Funky, Vintage, Madness! I wear a lot of very outrageous outfits ... I'm a lover of hats and big mad shoes and lots of tartan," she told Revamp. Like mother, like daughter, right? 

After spending lockdown with her family, Gaia Wise moved to her own flat in London

In 2020, Gaia Wise spent the first COVID lockdown in Scotland with her family, even though, as Emma Thompson told the Daily Mail, she "was supposed to be off doing her own thing." Wise ended up becoming the family chef.

However, in the summer of 2020, Wise moved out of her family home into her first apartment. "Been in London nearly a week," Wise wrote on Instagram in August 2020. "I've drunk multiple bottles of Prosecco, seen fabulous people and moved into my first ever flat." 

Thompson helped Wise make the move. "I came down to London with her to move her into her flat, which is very close and it was very exciting," her mother, Emma Thompson, said to Vogue a year later, adding, "She's grown up. She's left. You don't expect it. But grief of any kind is like that, isn't it?" Even though Wise was still in London close to Thompson, her mother struggled with her new empty-nester status. 

People quickly compared her to her mother after she appeared in Silent Witness

Gaia Wise certainly has a lot in common with her mother — and as she gets older, she's also starting to look an awful lot like her, too. While Emma Thompson may have fair hair now, back in the day, she was actually a brunette. Fans of Thompson might remember her from her early days as a sketch comedian while at Cambridge University in the '80s. Back then, she had a short brunette bob.

When Wise appeared in "Silent Witness" decades later in 2022, she looked like a spitting image of the young Thompson during her Cambridge days — brunette bob and all. News outlets were quick to pick up on the striking resemblance between the mother and daughter. "Gaia Wise is the mirror image of mother Emma Thompson," wrote the Daily Mail, while the Mirror wrote, "Dame Emma Thompson's daughter Gaia Wise is spitting image of her mum in 'Silent Witness' debut."

Gaia Wise got a tattoo dedicated to her mother

It's clear that Gaia Wise and her mother, Emma Thompson, have a very strong bond — in fact, Wise even got a tattoo dedicated to her mother. Wise showed off the tattoo while attending the "Cirque du Soleil: Cabinet Of Curiosities" premiere in 2023. "The tattoo was taken from a print that my parents did when I was born and shows my mum's big foot next to my baby foot," she told the Daily Mail. As Wise went on to explain, it was her first tattoo and, because it was on the ribs, it was extra painful. — but the pain was worth it. "It's very special to me and my mum loves it," she said.

Although Thompson didn't initially approve of her daughter's tattoos, she has since changed her mind. "I like them, which surprises me," she wrote for The Guardian in 2022. "I understand the urge to mark life's more seismic events upon your body. They sear themselves into our brains after all, so perhaps tattoos are just the outer version of the inner burns." 

Gaia Wise has some big plans for the future

So, what's next for Gaia Wise? Well, based on her mother's endlessly successful career, we can only guess that Wise has plenty to look forward to. As she told Revamp, she doesn't like to plan things too far in advance — "I'm quite wishy washy in that respect," she said. 

However, her career is her focus. "I would like to have done the work with the people that I'm supposed to work with," she said to Revamp. "I would love to go back on stage, it's one of my passions." She added that the main goal is to keep acting however she can. "It's something that's a life blood for me," she said. And we'll definitely be seeing lots more of Wise spending time with her famous mom, as her other main goal is to "have a lovely time and be with my family." Sounds like Wise isn't chasing fame — like her mother, Wise is putting her family and her passion at the "center of everything."