*Warning: contains mild spoilers for the film Emma.*
While new Jane Austen adaptation Emma. is a fairly faithful take on the original book, it does include a few new flourishes, including one pivotal scene towards the end of the film that sees Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma Woodhouse have a surprisingly bloody encounter.
No, it’s not a petticoated street brawl – she just gets a nosebleed during a moment of high stress – but director Autumn de Wilde has revealed there’s a fairly personal reason behind the scene’s inclusion, explaining that the hilarious moment was actually inspired by her own nosebleeds.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, De Wilde said: “I put the nosebleed in [the film]. I get nosebleeds all the time, in fact I had to change my suit today because I got a nosebleed and I had to put a different suit on!”
Said nosebleed appears during the film’s pivotal romantic scene between Emma and resident mansplainer Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn), with the latter confessing his love and proposing marriage only to be interrupted when Emma has an unexpected nasal haemorrhage, proving, according to De Wilde, that the pair are “both just a hot mess”.
“I was thinking about these things that never go away, like your body betraying you,” she said. “I think almost everyone has had something super embarrassing happen, you know, when they have their first kiss, or the first time they’re having sex with someone… And for me it’s nosebleeds, I’ve been getting them my whole life, and Eleanor thought it was really funny [the idea of Emma having a nosebleed]. I also thought, like, I wanted to make that scene so romantic, and then just turn it on its head, because to say just like, they’re not perfect, they’re both just like a hot mess, and seeing Mr Knightley and Emma panic and try and solve a problem together is just as romantic as the proposal, I think.”
De Wilde revealed that she spoke with screenwriter Eleanor Catton (the Man Booker winning author) about the first draft of the script, and was “really interested in finding ways to humanise rather than modernise”.
“Because it’s a historical story, we think of everyone as so grown up,” she continued but they’re just kind of kids, and emotionally they’re all kids, even though Mr Knightley is older, because they haven’t had a lot of experience in falling in love… I kind of like razzing it up a bit!”