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Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

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Liam Daniel

STARRING Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith
DIRECTED BY Susanna White
WRITTEN BY Emma Thompson

You may not think it to look at her, but Nanny McPhee owes a lot to Clint Eastwood. Writer and star Emma Thompson based the children’s films on the Westerns she watched as a child. ”A stranger to town rides in,” says Thompson, ”and they help the sheriff — or, in this case, the family — resolve the conflict and restore order using unorthodox methods, and then they leave. That’s Nanny McPhee to a T.”

Thanks to the number of children and animals in the PG-rated film, there was much lawlessness on the set. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays the put-upon mom in need of a supernanny, recalls, ”Emma and I would be on our knees just off camera, making fart noises to get a reaction out of the kids. Emma once literally threw herself into a pond.” That kind of dedication can come only if you truly love your character. ”She’s my James Bond, you see,” says Thompson. ”It’s unlikely I’m ever going to be asked to play Bond, so she’s all mine.”