Chat Show Host Emma Freud, Sigmund's Great-Granddaughter, Gets the Lowdown by Lying Down
12/07/1987 at 01:00 AM EST
There's no way to say this without giving the wrong impression: Emma Freud does her best work in bed. In the middle of the night. With strangers. On TV. Great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, Emma, 25, is the hostess of Pillow Talk, an innovative, not to mention provocative, British talk show. Just after 1 a.m. each Sunday morning the Batman reruns and video clips that make up the usual fare of England's Night Network give way to the sound of Muzak and an image of pink satin and roses. Dissolve to Emma and a celebrity guest sharing a double bed, which is where the interview will be conducted for the next 12 minutes. Pajamas for the guests are optional (nudity is not the other option), though Emma is always pj-clad. And no, she never slips into something more comfortable, like a nightie—or a Freudian slip.
A 5'3", 118-lb. extrovert, Freud says the bed "is the obvious place to interview people. People who are watching the show are probably watching from bed. Besides, it's easy to ask intimate things, and there's no live audience so my guests are able to open up a bit more." Among those who unbuttoned themselves recently was Eurotrash nightclub owner Peter String fellow, who said he was "worth $17.2 million" and that it would be "pathetic" if, at 47, he wasn't good in bed. Other pillow cases have included gargantuan female impersonator Divine, 41, who made the less-than-startling admission that dressing like a woman can cause conflict with one's parents, as well as actor Jason Connery, who did a little Sean-tell about the problems of having a famous father.
The problem of family fame cuts close to Emma. Her father is one of Britain's most recognizable politicians, Sir Clement Freud, a Liberal member of Parliament for 14 years until he lost his seat in this year's general election. Her mother is actress Jill Freud, who runs her own theater company in London. One of five children, all raised as Roman Catholics (their mother's religion), Emma started performing in school Nativity plays. She landed her first feature role at age 7, when, with a broken collarbone, she played the Virgin Mary while wearing a sling. A 1984 drama graduate of London University, Freud has worked as a pop columnist for the London Evening Standard newspaper, acted and directed in the theater and was host on two previous TV shows.
In July of this year she was hired for Pillow Talk by producer Jill Sinclair. "We wanted somebody attractive and intelligent," says Sinclair, "somebody who could be fun in bed without being smutty." On the air for the past three months, the show has generated much enthusiasm, both among audiences and among the guests—including Lemmy, lead singer for the heavy-metal band Motorhead, who got frisky under the covers. Emma easily fends off the advances. "There are 30 stagehands around to defend me," she says. "Anyway, it happens all the time in real life, and I can handle it."
The only guy who's allowed to play footsie with her is film-and-TV theme-music composer Harvey Brough, 30. They met in January 1985 when Freud went to see Brough perform with his former band, Harvey and the Wall-bangers. "He's very nice, but I'm not going to marry him," says Emma, which may explain why Harvey doesn't share her rented two-bedroom London flat. Emma's bookshelves contain exactly one publication devoted to her famous ancestor's work—a cartoon rendering of his thoughts called Freud for Beginners. "I couldn't get through it," she says.
Not quite a keeper of the Freudian flame, Emma does not suffer from genius envy. She has never been in analysis, nor is she familiar with her ancestor's writings. "I haven't read a single essay of Freud's," she says, "not a jot, not even a bit of his work. I really know nothing about him, although I am very proud of him. I know he was a great, great man and changed the face of the 20th century. But I don't know how he did it."
Hey, are Marx's descendants out starting revolutions? Are' Darwin's busy evolving new theories? But there's time for Emma. After all, she's still Jung.